What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours—that is what you must be able to attain. To be solitary as you were when you were a child, when the grown-ups walked around involved with matters that seemed large and important because they looked so busy. ~Rilke
when all is quiet, mystery lingers a little longer……the sky is bigger, and time is soft and malleable…..life becomes infinite again…..
inquiry for today~ lean into the subtle gray sky of November and be still….feel what moves inside…..
Jesus taught his followers to be like children. The Buddha built his enlightenment on a memory from childhood. Just before his enlightenment, split off from his fellow ascetics, broken and despairing from years of fruitless search, he remembered being a young child, sitting alone under a tree, watching his father and others in his community engaged in a plowing festival in the distance. He was in seclusion in the liberating way that children can be in seclusion.
According to some versions of the legend, the child who would become the Awakened One saw some insects whose homes were being torn up by plowing. He felt a burst of compassion, experiencing a fluid balance between inside and outside, secluded yet connected to life. This was the platform of the Buddha’s awakening. But he defeated the temptations and fears of Mara, grounded (he literally touched the earth) in the experience of childlike solitude.
On retreat, surrounded by sangha, I went from the surface of my life to the depths. My experience and my sense of myself became less rigid, more fluid, more like a child. I sensed currents that move far below. I went on retreat braced for loneliness and found connection.
Over the course of the week, I began to realize that awakening is the practice of letting-go. “Do everything with a mind that lets go,” taught Ajan Chah, a great Buddhist teacher in the Thai Forest Tradition, a founder of Theravada Buddhism in the West. “Don’t accept praise or gain or anything else. If you let go a little you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace.”
On retreat, letting-go can be a practice. It is the slow process of opening like a lens to the radiance at the heart of our real lives, here and now. We are enlightened as we learn to let the light in and let it shine out. This happens as we learn to be with life just as it is, receiving what is always being offered, always waiting to be received.