What are we doing in silent retreats?
We practice intense or serious non-attachment...
Retreat from the attachments in our life. Retreat from names and forms that we always see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think... Retreat from our everyday worldly activities, actions and speech... Retreat from our usual behavior pattern or routine... Retreat from our daily life worries and cares... Retreat from interaction, communication, discussion, debate, argument, expression, reaction, expectation, wanting, talking, mingling, socializing, mixing, gossiping, criticizing, judging, comparing, justification, worldly sensual pleasure and enjoyments, and etc...
We stop giving the mind what it wants and likes... We stop gratifying the craving and aversion of the mind... We move the mind away from its usual activities and enjoyments... This will not be easy nor comfortable for the mind... It will reject and resent... It will experience irritation and frustration... It will want to runaway from the retreat and go back to its usual habits, activities and enjoyments...
Meditation is not about making the mind to become creative and artistic, no doubt that many people who practice meditation regularly will naturally be developing the creativity and artistic side of the mind... They will have many creative ideas and imaginations... But, this is not the purpose of meditation. It is just one of the side-effects of meditation... Those who are not careful about this, will tend to attach to the "side-effect" of meditation, attach to the increasing creativity and ideas, and spend their energy and time into worldly social activities...
Meditation is stopping the mind from being creative. It is about absorbing or entering into silence, into namelessness and formlessness... There is no colours, no shapes, no forms, no qualities, no sights, no sounds, no smells, no taste, no sensations, no thinking, no thoughts, no creativity, no ideas, no imaginations, no interaction, no passions, no desires, no perception, no reaction, no happiness, no unhappiness, no good, no bad, no birth, no death, no fear, no worry, no gain, no loss, no ignorance, no excitement, no depression, no enjoyment, no suffering, no cessation of suffering, no ego, no mind, no intellect, no body...
The mind absorb into its source - The highest consciousness or the universal consciousness.
There is no meditator, no meditation, no fruit of meditation...
And this practice should not just be practice during or limited in silent retreats... It should be practice in our everyday life moderately, if we really want to be free from the bondage of birth and death, be free from suffering that co-exist with the body and the mind...
Talk less... If we really need to talk, may it be the speech of Dharma or the Truth... Even though most of the time, the Truth is not something that we want or like to hear... Sometimes, the Truth can be hurtful and painful, but it will release us from heavier suffering and ignorance...
Reduce or limit worldly passionate activities, socializing, interacting, gathering, stimulation of the mind...
There is no more attachment or clinging onto worldly materials, relationships and affairs... There is no more craving for love, care, support and attention from the world or relationships with anyone... There is no more depending on any worldly achievements to be confident, to be happy, to be somebody... Not even depending on any spiritual achievements to be confident, to be happy, to be somebody... The one who is beyond all names and forms, is a free being...
Those who retreat themselves moderately in everyday life but still living amidst in the busy and "interesting" world, might be criticized by worldly minded people as loner, insociable, unfriendly, strange, arrogant or care-less, but it doesn't matter... Because the wise will not argue with the ignorant, and will not mind about worldly perception, judgment, criticism and comment coming from the worldly minded... They will only be compassionate towards the beings who are over-powered by ignorance...
In those who had tasted the joy of detachment and dispassion, only they will know and appreciate the joy of trouble-free that comes from non-attachment and retreating from worldly passionate activities... And they are not interested to attain some sort of momentary satisfaction or happy feelings that come from worldly passionate activities...
They will spend their existing energy in their own practice and to help the world silently, not getting any attention from the world... They are the beings who really know how to help the world but without being known of who they are and what they do, and without being affected by the world and the result of their compassionate actions...
It is common that during or immediately after a silent retreat, we will be able to taste the joy of retreating ourselves from worldly passionate activities and relationships, experience care-free and worry-less, but very soon once we step back into our life in the worldly society, we start to attach to our worldly activities and relationships, and move away from detachment and dispassion, and be miserable again...
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- Meng Foong
- Pantai Cenang, Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
- My husband and I run ongoing yoga retreats in Langkawi Malaysia. We teach traditional Hatha Yoga - a combination of Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (breathing techniques) and relaxation, that has given benefit to millions of practitioners over thousands of years. Our yoga studio is situated in Langkawi. We also run yoga retreats in Europe and India.
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