When you go on a silent meditation retreat, it is a surprise present from your Innermost Being. The stillness within has thrown you a real birthday bash. While in silence, all the distractions that have kept you so occupied rush out to create havoc, mayhem and insanity, as usual. Now, however, they are met by a vast, open space.
Slowly the disturbances begin to recede. As they pull back, you see them for what they are: mind-made figments of your imagination and memories that have been spun into stories. You see how empty and meaningless these energies are. Then grace rushes in and blossoms as your Innermost Being, the feeling-sense ‘I am’. Aided by noble silence, you begin to notice the only permanent reality there is.
Without all the baggage filling you up, this vibrant presence which has always been inside is allowed to spread. As the retreat unfolds, this underlying reality easily takes center stage, beaming a light on the hidden, unconscious personal baggage you have acquired. As you sit in meditation with this inner beam, hour after hour, day after day, you discover that it welcomes all of you with such openness and love. Then an eternal, silent dawning emerges from within:
“Nothing is separate from who I really am.” You realize that all beliefs, should and shouldn’t judgments, and repressed feelings being carried around, were not real. The light of awareness reveals that all your demons, problems and enemies were made up.
As you deepen in the silence, a sincere inquiry unmasks and detaches from any beliefs that attempt to be born. Thoughts still arise but they appear like soap bubbles which pop the moment you recognize their transparency. The belief that thought has reality may return, in the form of various trance states attempting to lure you back to unconsciousness, but you cannot stay sleeping any longer.
A broad smile etches your face. A full belly laugh erupts. You cry tears of joy. The realization that you are always free, have always been free, dawns. That everything is okay, just the way it is. You have uncovered this great stillness inside, and the endless search for more, to be enough, disappears. Life then becomes a movement into the depths of your true Self.
Note: Jikoji Zen Center, where I did my retreat, is located at the 2350 foot elevation between Saratoga and Boulder Creek on scenic Hwy 9 about 1 hour south of San Francisco and 1 hour north of Santa Cruz. They are adjacent to the Long Ridge Open Space Preserve, which has miles of rugged and wild trails whose pristine beauty accentuates your retreat. It includes ocean views and abundant wildlife. (I saw several coyotes, many deer, and watched wild turkeys undergo their mating ritual, the males inverting and displaying their feathers in full ceremonial regalia).
They offer Zen programs, cooking classes, and allow self-styled, private retreats (like the one I took). Occasionally even have Native American sweat lodges. There website is: www.jikoji.org.