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.
Moving onto the final section of the book… Solitude Amid the Many.
Serenity of Mind by Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Disciple; Is solitude helpful for practice?
RM; what do you mean by solitude?
D; keeping away from others.
RM; Why should it be done? This is actuated only by fear. Even in solitude there is the fear of intrusion by others and of it being spoilt. Moreover, how are thoughts to be erased in solitude? Should it not be done in the present environment?
D: but the mind is distracted now.
RM; why do you let go the mind? Solitude amounts to making the mind still. This can be done in a crowd also. Solitude cannot efface one's thoughts. Practice does it. The same practice can be made here too.
D; is solitude necessary for a jnaani? (wise one)
RM; Solitude is in the mind of Man. One might be in the thick of the world and maintain serenity of mind; such a one is in solitude. Another may stay in the forest, but still be unable to control the mind. There is no solitude - it is a function of the mind. Being attached to desire takes away solitude, no matter what the environment.
D; so then, one might be engaged in work and be free from desire and keep up solitude. Is it so?
D; it is said that there are many saints in Tibet who remain in solitude and are still very helpful to the world. How can this be?
RM; Realisation of the Self is the greatest help that can be rendered to humanity. Therefore, the saints are thus said to be helpful despite being hidden in the forest. It should not be forgotten, thought, that solitude is not in the forests only. It can be had even in towns and in the thick of occupations.
D; is it not necessary for those saints to mix with society?
RM; the Realised being does not see the world as different from his or herself; as far as they are concerned, they are in the world, even when not. Thus, the saints' Realisation leads to the uplift of humanity without it being aware of it. The help is imperceptible, but still there. As far as the saint is concerned there are no 'others', there is only Self. There is only one Self and there are no numbers there. No distinctions of nation or continent. Realise your Self and then All is Realised.