This is the twenth of the series of reflections arising from a month in silence and solitude; the musings invite the reader to explore the Truth for himself or herself. May the writer's reflections be windows to look in, or out, onto the vista of our one Beloved, our deepest, truest Self. Peace! Brian
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A thought to introduce the reflection today...
The greater challenge is not taking time for solitude and silence apart, rather taking that back into your moment-to-moment life, not letting it drop away. Say, you go to sit in your meditation time. If you see that as apart from your life, that is a hindrance. You've set time apart and all other time as different, not a continuum, a flow. So, how do you consciously choose to drop that, and see your whole life as silence and solitude, just some time set apart from others, other time engaging what others might see as everything but silence, solitude?
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One could inquire, "Why go into a month of being alone? Why this being silent? What value in it? What do you expect?" Some might think, "What a waste! when you could be doing something useful." Or, "How selfish?" Or, "I really don't fathom how you could tolerate that much time alone and, even more, not speaking or singing or chanting or shouting, just mute?" And, "What if a war or something started, and you're not even checking the news?" Some may see this as starkly irresponsible.
A legitimate question "Why?". And few would engage such apartness in an extroverted, stay-busy, over-stimulated society. One may sense a risk at being seen as odd, anti-social, or fanatical. And the reply to "Why?" might be surprising, as we are socialized to need an objective, self-validating justification for all we do, I mean all, even what we do religiously or spiritually. Some might sense a need to go into this solitude with at least a mental to-do list, so on the way out, he or she could check the list and conclude if the venture had been profitable ~ after all, is not profit how we define life? as in, making a living, rather than enjoying living, life itself ~, or had he or she failed in this effort.
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A check-out guy asked me yesterday, at a grocery store,"What do you do?" And when persons often are introducing themselves, they focus on matters like, "I work at...". The ego thrives by doing, a means not so much usually to impress anyone, but to justify its place on Earth and protect itself from being removed from the center of life. If someone is impressed, even better or some egos do not even want to impress, afraid being noticed will threaten a sense of worthlessness, that is hidden only momentarily by a sense of having proven one's utility. "He approves of me, good, now I can return to my self-loathing."
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How would it be for you to go into a time of aloneness, for ten seconds or a day or a week or however long, to be silent, without seeing it as another thing to do? Like riding in your vehicle down a road on which you've never been, having no idea where you're going, having decided to leave your phone at home, without any means for directions at all, not even a GPS and no one anywhere in sight to stop and ask for directions. You might discover a pleasing relief, even subtle dread to return to a world that must make sense, in which one must grasp to know something. You might find a freedom, a bliss, a love in this liberating not-knowing. If you just stayed on that road, you would be one of many over the eons who decided to do just that, never live again in the world of noise, competition, and aggression, even aggression in trying to prove something spiritually either to "God" or yourself, to anyone. Likely, however, you would decide you wanted somehow to return from that trip, go back home, and take what you have felt and known into the life that is your life among others.
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So, why did I engage in this month of alone and silent? I cannot answer that in any detail, beyond that I felt a deep summons, call it from God or whatever, to do this; a strong energy seemed to carry me along in the planning and entering. My first such retreat, about ten years ago, was with a wish to have a major spiritual opening to occur, a revelation, a big one. That happened, after for seven days into the eight-day retreat, days I pushed and pushed, like trying to pry the heavens open and pull a god down, or get something unseen to shout out a reply. Okay, another experience, I'm grateful for it. Yet, like all experiences, passed, gone. Going into a time apart to seek such is not wise. These experiences, call them epiphanies if you wish, can hook one easily, become another jewel to hang around the neck, to share with others ~ "Hey! let me tell you about what happened to me." Easily, a trap, a diversion away from the glory of the simplicity of not-knowing, from the beauty of life itself, here, now. What is more a revelation than the miracle that you, yes you, are on this Earth, now? I learned not to attach to any great expectations. Just going in, seeing what will happen, being-with what happens moment-by-moment. And is this not the sane way to live anyway, day to day, moment to moment?
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I cannot say anyone can engage in any spiritual practice without expectation. Desire and expectation is part of the duality in which we live in this body. Some say we are to have no expectations, for example, in love. Rubbish! More of that cliche nonsense that circulates as spiritual. Who would advise anyone, "Joe, now, when you marry Ruth Ann, just love her, love her with no expectations"? Of course, Joe will expect, hopefully, Ruth Ann to seek to fulfill her side of the covenant, as Ruth Ann will Joe. Thankfully, we have times, even if a moment, when all that drops, and there has arisen a spaciousness free of any wishing or wanting or hoping. Joe is just enjoying being with Ruth Ann, and vice versa, and all expectation is still present, only in the background, not attached to. Now, that would be wonderful, that shift, and that is what a spiritual path invites us to.
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"Why?" My answer would not be possibly what you need to hear, might be a hindrance to your listening to your own deepest felt-need. You need to find your own answer of the reason you would find it wise to engage in some form of regular apartness in silence. Possibly, I would be more helpful leaving with a poem, written the second day in retreat, and invite you to hear it with the Heart. I think, for now, that's enough... So, stay in Love, and enjoy Life! Peace Always.
Why seek more?
Not enough? and even more?
Look and cannot see
Do the waves rolling into shore need your help?
Then, why such effort?
Life is always moving, even when you see only stillness,
Something here always waiting
for you to relax and enjoy the flow
Stay with it, all this you're doing,
until you've dug
a deep hole under your feet
and find out you're completely closed in
you're still too strong
to find the treasure hidden inside the Heart
for your weakness to grow
then, suddenly appears, smiling at your door
Effort! more and more
until you exclaim "Enough! Goodbye!"
What relief! What joy!
Those too strong to die
well, they'll not see
these life-giving streams
always running through a thirsty world
This Lover calling out
Of me, drink!
When ready, what to do? Nothing.
Kneel in gratitude, in reverence
nothing need be said, this Love
has always been breathing inside your chest
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*All material, unless another source is cited, is authored by the presenter of Lotus of Heart, Brian Kenneth Wilcox, Florida USA. Use of the material is permitted; Brian only requests that credit be given and to be notified at firstname.lastname@example.org .
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union, is available through major booksellers.
*Move cursor over pictures for photographer and title.