Tag Archives: mystic

Isolation – The Solitary Retreat

Isolation is a period of time spent completely alone, cut-off from the world’s distractions, for gaining self-knowledge. People have ventured into deserts, forests, and mountains for thousands of years to escape their fellow men, to find peace, and to find answers to their deepest questions. Such time alone may be an undistracted attempt to delve within in search of the truth of our being. Such time may also be an escape into daydream and fantasy. For me, a few days or weeks alone each year allowed a clearer perspective on the rest of my life and was a time to pursue meditation with full intensity. At the very least, it was an amazing adventure into a tradition few modern people dare to explore. What follows are some suggestions for the process.

Solitary Retreat
Solitary Retreat

 

First, you need a reason for a stint in isolation — something you wish to think about or investigate. I remember the first time I chose to spend a day alone. I sat on a blanket by the edge of a field. Shortly, I realized I had nothing to focus on. I simply had heard that it was good to spend time alone. My mind wandered from one thought to the next for half a day. Finally, I packed up and went home. Of course, it wasn’t a total waste. You learn something from any experience if you take time to ponder what happened and why. I am trying to save you a few steps, though.

 

Perhaps explaining more of the benefits will help clarify your reasons for undertaking an isolation. Many people like taking a few minutes at the end or beginning of the day to review and plan. Isolation is an opportunity to review and plan for months or years of your life. Sometimes in my isolations, I reviewed my journals from the past year. This was a priceless opportunity to see how I changed, how I spent or wasted my time, and what my actions said about my priorities. In short, to learn from my history. Next, I planned for the coming year, and developed a strategy for how I wanted to live my life.

 

You can use isolation for reviewing and planning, or for creating and discovering. Think about the scientist working late at night in his lab, the artist in their retreat, or the Native American on a vision quest. This is isolation as meditation. Eliminating distractions so we can look within and see what arises. For a moment, we put the demands of society on hold. No cell phones, no bills to pay, and no class or job to attend. Just you and the universe — you and life at its simplest. In this case, your reasons may be harder to articulate — taking the form of a feeling or intuition.

 

Once you realize a reason for isolation, the question becomes how long to spend alone. I’ve spent anywhere from a half a day to thirty days in isolation. I know others who spent up to sixty days. Avoid the thirty-day marathons for your first time. Best to start out too short rather than too long, since the ramifications of extending your time are clearer than those of shortening a stay.

 

Life is a sticky business, so you’ll need to reserve a block of time and prepare to cut the cords of responsibility. Get your life in order so you won’t worry whether or not your dog is starving while you are supposed to be contemplating the meaning of life. The older you get the harder this becomes, as not only your dog, but your kids also might wind up starving. Few students realize the luxury of time the college age provides. One’s twenties are a window of opportunity for the grand adventure of spiritual seeking.

 

Where to go is the next consideration. There are numerous spiritual retreats and even a book or two listing them (such as Sanctuaries: The Complete United States). Make sure you will be left alone. It is best to not even see another person for the duration. Having to dine with others, or listen to singing and chanting can be distracting. There are options besides official retreats. Maybe a friend or friend of a friend with land where you could pitch a tent. Parks and National Forests are possibilities. I know people who simply holed up in a cheap motel room for the weekend. What is wrong with using your own home? Many reminders of your life in the everyday world, easy to be disturbed by friends or family, and too many distracting temptations like the television.

 

Wherever you go, plan to keep your life simple while you are there. Food preparation can become a time-consuming chore or a major distraction. Some people simply choose not to eat. Fasting is worth a try. Over-eating will make you sleepy, as will lack of exercise. The more primitive your housing situation, the more planning it may take to keep things simple — how will you cook, clean, use the toilet? Beware of too broad a focus for your isolation. Don’t plan to read ten books in two days. Or plan to decide on a career, a mate, and to discover the source of thoughts. Plan a major thrust for your isolation time and let all other actions be in support of that goal.

 

So you found a reason, a place to go, and a plan to make your isolation happen. Now you are there, so what are the unexpected hurdles? Typically, people find reasons to leave. You decide isolation was a stupid idea, or you are not prepared, or now is not the best time, you feel weak or sick, you have too much nervous energy (can’t focus), or there is some emergency at home. My advice is to not shorten you isolation. If you said you would stay a week, stay a week. However, use your best judgement. If you vomit blood once (I’ve seen it happen), don’t panic and leave. If you vomit blood for two days, and are unable to identify and correct the cause, then you’ve got a problem.

 

Generally, decisions to leave can be negated by changing another aspect of the isolation. Once, I meditated so long that my knees hurt day and night, so I kept changing up my sitting style so I could continue. Another time, a book I thought would be inspiring was a dud, so I used another book. I could have said my knees hurt too much or that the book was uninspiring and I might as well go home. Adapt the details of your plan in mid-stream, if necessary to preserve the whole.

 

There is knowledge and change that will come from the isolation experience. The answer to your deepest question may not come during isolation and you shouldn’t expect it to. On a long afternoon of the twentieth day of a thirty-day isolation, as you are wishing you could sleep away the rest of time, this will seem solely an exercise in determination. That may be one value, but other values are not realized until far in the future.

 

Richard Rose gave me the best description of the attitude one should take. He said not to approach isolation as challenging God or the universe for an answer. Don’t draw a circle in the sand and say you won’t come out until you are enlightened. Instead, and this is my interpretation, work as hard as you can and be thankful for whatever happens.

 

Isolation is an invaluable experience, but even it may outlive its usefulness. Eventually, I felt isolation was no longer useful for me. Perhaps the focus of my isolations had so permeated my everyday life that I was always alone; always looking for an answer even in the midst of an outwardly typical life. Along this line, I do not recommend a cloistered life. Escaping the world through permanent isolation will become another cage from which we must escape.

 

Shawn Nevins, from the TAT Forum -November 2002

*
*

Forgetting

In Dan Sutera’s article on John Wren-Lewis, a very important point is brought up, that of forgetting. This problem of forgetting gets little mention is most esoteric circles. Wren-Lewis tells us of two forms that this forgetting of ourselves can take. The first he calls a “slipout” and is caused by focusing the attention on and through the mind. Usually this does not lead to a complete forgetting, but occasionally one forgets “eternity” and the slipout occurs. The return occurs when one remembers the “Dazzling Dark” and returns to the “correct “seeing, or eternity consciousness. This forgetting is relatively minor, as long as the attention, or value, placed on the mind is minimal. The second forgetting, that he refers to as “screening”, is much more severe in that it is a complete loss of the Dazzling Dark, his own dark night of the soul. This has occurred rarely and comes from intense stress. Let’s take a look at these two types of forgetting and see how they occur in daily life.

G.I. Gurdjieef remarked that we need tools to remind us of ourselves, he called these ‘alarm clocks’. Little mental

Forgetful
Forgetful

mechanisms we can put into play to remind us of our aim to ‘remember ourselves’ or to reconnect to the Dazzling Dark. These alarm clocks are necessarily of a personal nature, and serve to pull us back from the outward mind, reminding us to ‘go within’ once more. Sooner or later these alarms will lose their effectiveness by becoming habit patterns and will need to be changed. One of the best methods of remembering the need to staying awake is to take advantage of our fellow seekers. Nothing serves to remind us more of when we are slipping into the mechanical mind than a good shock from a friend or fellow group member. They may know us better than we know ourselves.

The more severe form of forgetting can be caused by becoming engrossed in the first until we have become so hypnotized by the problems and demands of the outward mind that we become wholly identified with its self-madness. Wren-Lewis refers to this madness as “some kind of inflation or hyperactivity of the psychological survival-system.” The ego/mind becomes wholly concerned with its own personal brand of self-survival and we no longer have any freedom of attention. We have lost the ability to go within and listen to the Dark. At this point, Grace and surrender may be our only hope. Again, our fellows can help us see the pattern of ego-infatuation and help us to relax and turn the inner head back towards its source.

One of the best alarm clocks we can have is to remind ourselves of the three lines of spiritual work, as taught by Gurdjieef/Ouspensky. These simple reminders can help us to remember that we are not alone in our struggle, that there is help to break the spell of the outer-directed mind.

Bob Fergeson

 

Zen Leadership

Zen Leadership: The Toughest Best Business Decision I Ever Made

by August Turak

http://www.forbes.com/sites/augustturak/2012/03/15/zen-leadership-the-toughest-best-business-decision-i-ever-made/

Richard Rose
Richard Rose

He cared deeply, lived carelessly, and couldn’t care less, and he died in the same obscurity into which he was born.Yet he remains the greatest leader and most remarkable man I have ever met. Everything that is best in me I owe largely to him.

 

For more information on Richard Rose go to : www.tatfoundation.org

The Eternal Child Within – The Puer

” The Child and the Presence are the same one Presence and It is right here where we are, transcending this world’s time and space.” – Willam Samuel

Samuel was a man who learned his lessons through fire and suffering, and later put them to the test in everyday life, and found them true. He speaks directly to the Heart of the listener in a forceful and simple manner, leading them to recognize that their own intuition is the surest path to the Inner Child.

Holocene by Bon Iver from Secretly Jag on Vimeo.

“The Child of Light and Love is the pathfinder, the guide, the wayshower up the mighty mountain in Kwangse Province. Science, religion and philosophy can take us a great distance, but the Child takes us to Dominion. It is absolutely essential that we actually get in touch with the eternal Child.” – William Samuel


For more on Samuel’s work, visit http://www.mysticmissal.org/william_samuel.htm

For ordering his books and tapes, visit http://www.williamsamuel.com/

 

Stalking Yourself with the Listening Attention

     Above the door to the ancient temple in Delphi were inscribed the words, “Know Thyself”. These words describe the process by which we separate from our false state of ignorance and rediscover true Being. But how do we initiate this process, this grand work of spiritual discovery? What tools should we choose to come to know this thing we call ‘ourselves’? If we are to engage in the pursuit of self-definition we will need to use the best tools available. To stalk our ‘self ‘, we will need something above or behind this personality to best observe with, something of a different order. Using the personality to observe the personality simply doesn’t work. It’s like trying to lift a plank while standing on it. This self we wish to come to know is a constantly changing, moving target, a veritable chain of reactions and patterns, seldom still, but always within our sight. To observe it we will need something calm and constant. Something that looks but doesn’t react; a seeing that listens.

Shadows on Snow
Shadows on Snow

 

  Coming to know ourselves eventually crushes the ego, in that we find we are not what we imagined ourselves to be.  We begin to see that the person we think we are is purely mechanical, a robot. Honesty and courage will be needed if we are to accept what we see, and perseverance when we find our task difficult and wish to retreat back into imagination. This process of dis-identifying leads to ego-death, as we separate from our pattern. The simple act of clearly seeing the person we were for what it truly is, is enough to bring about its death. We find we have become that which witnesses experience, where before we were experience, creating more and more experiences in an endless mechanical pattern. We are no longer the wily animal we have been tracking, which becomes cleverer with every experience, but instead something free, eternal, and indescribable.

The process of contracting the attention to improve reception, followed by a period of relaxation for it all to bring fruit:

We have to have a contraction of our attention from the manifested world, to save our energy and create an aim and direction; simplify our life. But at some point the danger is this contraction could become the search in itself and an end in itself rather than just part of the means.  The contraction has to be given up(actually, it’s removed) for a total relaxation, once the contraction has done its work.  In other words, once we find that thinking and planning and doing in our practice have come to a dead end, then we have to give it up once we’ve hit the wall beyond which our mind cannot go, and allow the inner relaxation, so that we can receive.

First, we contract or withdraw our energy and attention to make the machine efficient and gain a vector and direction to get surely headed in the right way. Then, at some point there has to be complete inner relaxation, because the contraction of itself can’t give us the answer, the answer has to come from within through the relaxation. We get out of our own way. We must allow ourselves to receive, once we have improved the receiving mechanism: the intuition.

I've got my eye on you