It’s possible to trace the earliest indigo pea cultivation–like the cultivation of Buddhist wisdom– back to India. But the word “indigo” is derived from the Greek word bapto, meaning “to immerse.” Through mindfulness practice, we intentionally immerse ourselves in the reality of the present moment in order to be clear-sited and know better how to respond to daily life challenges.
The indigo dyeing process is one of transformation. To start, a garment absorbs “white indigo” (a clear liquid). Then, the indigo oxidizes in the air. The garment turns green-to-blue as it dries. This transformation takes some time, not unlike personal transformation through mindfulness study and practice.
Indigo production is a source of both beauty and suffering. The first European cash crop in Charleston was indigo peas. However, plantation profits soared because landowners enslaved laborers. Indigo production was marked by violence and revolt. What’s more, synthetic and natural dyeing processes produce environmental toxins. Proper handling requires mindfulness and care.
By choosing indigo as our namesake, we acknowledge the whole of our local heritage–that which is wholesome and unwholesome, beautiful and ugly, joyful and painful. As a spiritual community, we aspire to live in such a way that a peaceful, healing, and happy continuation is possible for the Lowcountry people and land.