A year ago, I left Spirit Fire for a personal meditation retreat and sabbatical. Isolation, emptying my mind, and understanding more of my heart called with such power that I was packed and gone within three days. It was completely spontaneous and was blessed by the kindness and generosity of several people. A gestation later, I returned.
Many things are still sorting out, but the linch pin to everything has been the undoing of my sense of self. We, and all in existence, will always have a locus of identity. As long as we are in manifestation on some plane of consciousness, somewhere in the universes of form, a focal point of and for Being is necessary. That focal point of identity will go through many unfoldments, emptyings, and transformations, but it will still be a locus of identity, no matter how refined. Going on a long meditation retreat usually has one reason: to get clear. One’s intention is to see through and in doing so to become clear about truth, self, reality, responsibility, lasting happiness, creative service to others, compassion, and wisdom.
I returned with clarity as my foundation, with emptiness as a pretty constant view, infinity as the known, and therefore the first-hand knowing of all possibilities. In touching into the vulnerability of my heart, the delicate beauty of others and life blossomed all the more. The well-being of all beings was practiced before I went away, now it is breath itself.
There is a challenge born from this womb of awareness. It is that with the coarser layers of self no longer insisting a self-referential reality, one is left like the “hanged man” of the Tarot temporarily upside down and content in that emptiness of self not being what it/one used to be. The freedom experienced as a result only goes away if one knowningly and willingly imprisons oneself again in a contraction of thought or with labels or judgements. As old mental patterns try to exert their feeble nature, now a visceral recoil happens inside: there is no self, I am not these contractions of mind or emotions, nor is anything what my old contractions declare those things to be.
So, the challenge is the radiance and peaceful contentment that directly results from freeing the locus of identity from the contractions of a self-believing self. The almost nine month meditation retreat birthed and nursed more Awareness. Now, I am a toddler learning what to do with new legs and new mind. There is a funny combination in this awareness: all-is-perfect and working out according to profoundly simple laws and an urgency to BE which comes from the all-is-perfect and necessary working out of the profound and simple. BE because ONE IS. That’s all there is. But this leaves me like a little child. That which I lived as before the retreat seemed developed from the ground up. But, even before the retreat completed, I experienced a different paradigm or source of this necessary locus of identity. Source and identity, by nature, are completely empty, infinite, radiant and clear, uninterrupted and unfettered. Therefore, I am a child, new in this constant unknown, in this perpetual limitlessness and its contentment.
My life purpose remains the same: serve others, teach, Be. But maturity as this radiant limitlessness is not expressing yet. Thus my being is like a second gestation, as if a further birth is needed or is to come. Then I will know what to do with this more awakened mind, this constantly erupting heart, and this throbbing peace.
- A Journey Within series (written during the retreat)