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.
Swami Chinmayananda - Gurudev - himself is the next essayist in the book. Actually, it is a lengthy excerpt from his diary of 1948, when he was making yatra (pilgrimage) of the Himalaya and pondering how best to serve the world. The insight the excerpt gives as to adjusting to solitude and gaining benefit from it is quite revealing. In order to keep this post manageable in length, but also to distill an essence of the different sections (days of the diary), instead, quotations are going to be presented - key sentences which hold entire lessons within them. Your task is to ponder each deeply. The title given the 'essay' is Communing With Nature.
After returning (from Rishikesh) I went for a long walk alone among the tall, awsome-inspiring pine trees. At first I felt terrified just looking at their majesty. Then I stepped into their midst…
(Leaving the Jamuna) the ascent was no joke. Even a healthy man must pant ere he can proceed half a furlong. Yet the going was pleasant - because of the solid silence in these vaults of nature… the sight was gorgeous all around, the vegetation thick. Tall trees laden with leaves, shrubs short and stout. I wanted to leave even my friend Sri Gautamji, who seemed to be afraid of the silence and stuck to me even more. I could not shake him easily, but gained a lead as we descended down the serpentine path. It is a lovely, exhilarating experience to be in the forest alone with the silence. You seem to perceive the silence, dandle it, and come to be silence yourself. The thicker and heavier the silence, the more Gautamji would talk… not everybody can take silence in their stride. It can be as unnerving as incessant chatter.
Except for the twitter of a few birds at 4am, nothing disturbed the serenity of the moment. In such an atmosphere, prayer comes to one naturally.
We visited a vairaagi sadhu, Sri Raganath Dasji. We were with him for ten minutes. He spoke not a word; we spoke not a word. It was the most eloquent ten minutes. In that silence, the attitude of babaji, the room, the fire… everything assumed a special significance. If we did not receive its meaning, it could have only meant a weakness in our own understanding. The real life is in meditation and renunciation.
The early morning sun played on the fresh whiteness of the snowpeaks. Together they formed a chorus of welcome… as we marched along this winding ridge, falling to depths on either side, with an amazing variety of flowers of white, yellow, violet, we felt that we were on the roof and crown of creation and were, in essence, at one with the reigning spirit of pure beauty and thrilling silence. There is no language in the world that has worlds powerful enough to express such deep, voiceless, undiluted inner experiences...no earthly joy can compete, for they are incomplete and finite; this is infinite, immeasurable bliss which rejuvenates and shatters into smithereens the entire market-place values in life.
...here in the deepest, fiercest forest section, I was alone for an hour. Any rugged stretch is a 'path'. Nature is formidable with her eerie noises; birds, leaves, rivers, twigs cracking underfoot, distant calls of shepherds, all falling thickly on the exploding silence. Woven into this intricate pattern, how can one call one's life one's own?! There is the humility of absolute surrender.