Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation
SOLITUDE. Does it serve a purpose for the meditator? Does it have to mean 'lonely'? We are going to explore the writings of a number of notable contemplatives of various backgrounds and explore the role of solitude in spiritual pursuit. These are from a collection published by Chinmaya Publications.
A piece now on what happens in silence. (NB, this item is again edited for brevity.)
SILENCE IN ACTION by Vimala Thakur
You may have three meals a day, a car, a good home, a family and friends around you… but when you are with yourself, how are you? Is there a sense of loneliness? It's a funny thing, loneliness, it can creep up even when we are in a crowd. One gets tired, dragging through the day to day repetitiveness that so often passes for 'living'. We fall into ruts, even in our thinking and can see no way out. It is in this condition that we can feel so alone.
Freedom from your own mind removes the loneliness which settles in those ruts. This freedom permits being alone, as in solitude, without the angst of loneliness. Once the mind is silent and learns the art of living in freedom from conditioning, we find that Love, True Affection, comes forth for all whom we meet - the ego melts away and is transformed for Love Universal. The meditative way of life frees us; if enough people took up this way of living, we could have true hope of a humane society based on freedom and equality.
To work towards such a transformation, it is necessary first to appreciate solitude. Only in true aloneness is it possible to become a proper self-observer. Solitude is not idleness; here you can watch, examine and assess as you process. It is important to note that solitude, true silence, implies non-verbalisation… even the quiet internal kind. If you are chattering with yourself, you are indulging in 'company' of past, possible future and so on. It is essential to be able to stop all this when in solitude, if your intent is to develop in personality and spirituality, which equals humanity. This 'nowness' without interaction, even with your own ego, can scare some folks; loneliness is a fear of being without company. You have to educate yourself to be comfortable in solitude, to be separate from people and things, to drop attachments.
The mind, addicted to words, symbols and verbalizations, is comfortable only when exposed to the chattering of another, or its own chattering. If the mind is removed from the company of people, it begins to talk to itself. Soon, tired of even this inward chatter, it becomes bored and starts to complain. It turns from its addiction for chatter, to a boredom phase, which prompts and pricks the individual to look for the chatter which is missing...boredom has no reality, it is a reaction of the mind and ego; but we have become so conditioned to this prompt, we respond to it as if on autopilot.
If you are alone and the mind reacts "oh I feel lonely", don't run away to some distraction. Eat your loneliness and drink it and digest it! Stop running away from yourself. To sit alone and get beyond loneliness into a true acceptance of solitude, permits the essential, original you to make an appearance. The person that you, perhaps, never even knew was there.
Thus you can explore new dimensions. A new way of living will begin. You will be able to see what is truly feared and, with work, recognise that fear also is a construct of mind and ego.
Create an opportunity, and if you find you cannot bear the austerity of solitude and silence, or the departure from the orbit of thought, time and space, then go back and live comfortably the way the world has been lived till now, accepting that for what it is. Otherwise, follow other paths, which enrich and strengthen the mind and develop the mental powers, giving further opportunity to expand the new dimensions, both at sensory and non-sensory level.
It is a multi-stage process in which there will be mental rebellions, fears, despairs, questions and doubts. So you observe and keep observing - the you which is the intellect, the detached self. It is a non-reactional attentiveness. It does not condemn neither approve any action, any perceived weakness. A sense of exhaustion may arise, for letting go is an almost physical process. All sorts of strange and peculiar things can arise as we attempt to move beyond our conditioned state. If you are serious about examining and exploring new dimensions, if you are willing to leave behind the classical, organized, standard paths of inquiry and are willing to allow the whole "I" consciousness to drop away, you also have to accept all the impediments as they arise and move past you. It is like moving to a foreign country, adjusting to language and lifestyle - one has to permit time to absorb the shock of the difference.
Do not force things; give time for the absorption. Be kind to the Self which seeks to reveal...be careful, though, not to become complacent or forget that you’re a participant in your own process. On the frontiers of the unknown, many an enquirer stays put or gets stuck; there is no desire to return to the old way of living, but incomplete process results in frustration at not living in the entirety of ego-lessness; there is a suspension, a limbo state, which bears no fruit for the personality.
Solitude, silence, non-action, is a very positive and tremendously creative state. It has its own energy that is qualitatively different from the energy of ego-consciousness. Meditation, exploration into silence, is a psychic adventure. Your time in solitude, your period of self-education, prepares you to be an adventurer into the unknown.