Recently, Tom Stine returned from a weeks silent retreat and wrote about his experience. It reminded me of my own experiences. I’ve been on retreats as short as 2 days and as long as 6 months. (it really took longer to go deep in the ’70’s) I know some people who lived ‘on retreat’ for many years. I’ve wanted to go on more but there is the old saying about dying the cloth.
To dye a cloth the old way, one would dip the cloth in dye, then hang it in the sun to bleach out. Then redip, rebleach. And so on. Soon the colour becomes fast. It won’t bleed on the rest of the laundry. In the same way, we dip into being, into transcendental awareness. We touch silence on the cheek. Then slowly, we bring that experience out into the world. Silence begins to infuse our daily life. At a certain point, the balance shifts. We change from the individual experiencing silence, into the silence experiencing the individual. This is waking, the beginning of the process of knowingly expressing Oneness through form.
On a retreat we have a chance to have a little holiday and step more deeply into the silence. The structure of a retreat helps make that possible. Not having to deal with the routine aspects of life, like making dinner. Also being surrounded by spiritual thought rather than the evening news. But more importantly, a retreat creates a group together, focused on being. As I’ve said elsewhere, oneness is not achieved through the one, it is achieved through the many. In a group, we focus and that amplifies the being, it amplifies the peace, it draws the silence up into our experience, opens the door to who we are.
An awake person can aid in focusing or opening that being by serving as a lighthouse, an example. But its not required. I once went on a retreat with over 8,000 meditators in the early ’80’s. You could feel the group from miles away. They predicted certain reductions in standard measurements like crime rate and hospital admissions in the whole country and exceeded them. Smaller groups later went into war torn areas like Lebanon and literally stopped the war. It restarted when they left. These effects have been published in reputable scientific journals but they fall outside the paradigms of what many can accept, so remain unapplied. 25 years later and they’re still working to create a sustained group large enough to calm the world. There is great resistance, but its gradually dissolving. The world is waking up.
Others have stated that the power of being is vastly greater than the power of negativity. I agree, particularly when you recognize that negativity is based on illusion. I have learned to never underestimate the power of a group. Last summer i was on a 2 day non-residential ‘retreat’. Really, more a gathering to chat a little with a teacher and watch a few videos, try a diad. But the group was very clear and the happiness people were experiencing was off the charts. The room was alive with bliss. One woman even briefly fainted, it was so intense. (laughs)
More recently, I’ve gone on a couple of small weekend retreats where the majority were already awake. Those that weren’t almost all soon were. In this time, there is not much needed. Its such a remarkable change from 30 years ago.
As we step forward past the illusions we have been lost in, the true guru emerges. The all-knowing being within. The one guru of all gurus, the one knowledge that flows through all we experience. Retreat within, then move forward into the world. Place silence where it can be seen.