What Is the Purpose of Silent Retreat? by Amoda Maa

Image of solo meditation practitioner on the beach, sun shining through hand

What Is the Purpose of Silent Retreat?
By Amoda Maa Jeevan, author of Embodied Enlightenment

Many spiritual traditions offer silent retreat as the basis of their teachings. Most often, some kind of meditative practice is central to this—a way to still the mind and be more present. In the privileged Western world, silent retreat is mostly a luxury—something “spiritual” that we do when we have the time to get away from the busyness of our everyday lives in order to de-stress or find a higher state of consciousness. But for me, as a “spiritual teacher,” silent retreat is much more than this—it is a necessity, for each of us as individuals and for humanity as a whole, if we are to play a part in the transformation of the world.

Most people are lost in the matrix of their thoughts, beliefs, opinions, preferences, and grievances; it’s a prison characterized by stress, struggle, anxiety, confusion, and argument—in other words, it’s a state of inner division in which there’s an identification with the many “voices in the head” (which are often in opposition to each other). Seven billion people in a divided state creates a divided world; we see this in our social, economic, political, environmental, and religious arenas—this is the matrix of the world, and the outcome is war. We cannot end the war within or the war in the world without first freeing ourselves of the prison of identification with “psychological form” (thoughts, beliefs, opinions, preferences, and grievances). Discovering a dimension deeper than psychological form is vital for our own survival and for the survival of humanity.

The good news is, this deeper dimension is actually our natural state. Our natural state is the unending openness of being—in other words, consciousness itself. This consciousness exists prior to thinking and feeling, and even prior to self-awareness. It’s what is always here when you stop giving your attention to the movement of mind. It’s what happens when you are immersed in beauty, when you’re still in nature, when you’re running or dancing or making love. And very often, it’s what happens in the intensity of pain, trauma or shock, or a near-death experience. It can, of course, also be revealed in the midst of meditation. For some, the practice of meditation is a very useful tool. But many meditation practices do not use silence as the fundamental teaching—and even if they do, for many people meditation is far from silent!

Silent retreat has the capacity to go deeper than meditation practice. For me, it is not meditation itself that is the vital part, but the very nature of silence itself. It’s not about getting rid of thoughts or even about quieting the mind; it’s about falling into an inner dimension of beingness, like falling into the depth of the ocean—thoughts are the waves on the surface, beingness is the stillness and silence at the bottom. The more we rest in this silence, the more we come to know it as our essential nature. It is this silent core of being that remains unmoving and unbroken throughout the glories and tragedies of “my life.” When we keep coming back to this silence, we become more rooted in it, even in the midst of the vicissitudes of life, and eventually it is recognized as the backdrop to the movie of “me,” and gives rise to the true fulfillment of our innate wholeness. It doesn’t necessarily make our lives “perfectly happy” or “perfectly successful,” but it does free us from the prison of erroneous identification with psychological form (thoughts, beliefs, opinions, preferences, and grievances), thus ending the war within and revealing a peace and joy that is not dependent on circumstances.

Silent retreat is the opportunity to notice what keeps your attention at the surface, to be honest with yourself about what prevents you from falling into your innermost depth, and to practice surrender of the mind’s safety-seeking strategies while being held in the loving spaciousness of the “container” of the retreat itself.

The invitation to fall into the silence at the core of your being is a coming home to your natural state. And when we move from this silence into the world, the reverberations are revolutionary!


Join Amoda for her upcoming silent retreat this December:

Coming Home to the Core of Your Being
Resting in Silence
December 3–7, 2017 (Sunday–Thursday: 4 nights)

Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health
57 Interlaken Road
Stockbridge, MA 01262

Embodied Enlightenment

 

Amoda Maa Jeevan is a contemporary spiritual teacher, author, and speaker who recently appeared at the Science and Nonduality Conference in San Jose, CA (SAND17 US).
Embodied Enlightenment: Living Your Awakening in Every Moment is based on both her vision for humanity and the conversations on the cutting edge of spiritual inquiry in her meetings with people from all around the world.

What to Do When Fear Strikes by Amoda Maa Jeevan

The word FEAR in red on grungy grey wall with blue sky and fluffy white cloud visible through big hole

What to Do When Fear Strikes
By Amoda Maa Jeevan

Fear does not belong to you.

Do not take ownership of it.

There is a lot of fear in the world now.

There are many earthquakes in the Earth, and many unstable and threatening political situations. Many people are very scared.

When this collective vibration reaches a certain intensity, we feel it as individuals—but it is not personal.

Allow it to pass through you like a storm. You survived last time this fear was here; you will survive again.

Do nothing—nothing stupid, nothing clever.

Be open like the sky. Do not make it personal.

Just bear it as it passes through. The Earth bears the earthquake. The universe bears the galactic winds. You, too, can bear the emotional maelstrom.

Be open like the sky. Everything passes.

And you…are still here.

Embodied Enlightenment cover

Amoda Maa Jeevan is the author of Embodied Enlightenment: Living Your Awakening in Every Moment, published by New Harbinger Publications. Copyright 2017.

Confessions of a Spiritual Teacher by Amoda Maa

Book heartConfessions of a Spiritual Teacher
By Amoda Maa Jeevan, author of Embodied Enlightenment

Even as a spiritual teacher, life is not always easy. There is an idea that after awakening, life just flows along in some kind of fluffy way—that there is nothing we have to do and nothing we want and nothing to work toward—and so we experience only the bliss of ease and happiness. But this is blatantly not true, at least not from the perspective of the human experience.

Yes, it is true from the perspective of the absolute, of no-self; the self as ego is actually not in charge of life, and there is a death of this belief and a cessation of the attempt to control anything. This is the surrender: the recognition that life manifests you; that life really does just happen, and you are responding to this; that you are not the creator but the servant of this intelligence that moves life—this is the deepest realization, and it is ever-present when awakening has fully matured. And of course, there is a great peace in this, a peace that has nothing to do with what happens or does not happen in the external world.

But I can tell you that for me, fifteen years after awakening, there is still a very human experience going on in which the waves of life keep coming. Of course, I could have “gone to sleep” after awakening, become passive, and stayed in my comfort zone; then everything would have been easy. But I hold a passion to grow in ways that are as yet unknown, I hold a dream that is unfolding within me, and I simply cannot ignore this. I’m willing to take risks by jumping into new adventures and walking through new pastures (even though there is discomfort and fear and insecurity)—just because this is the intelligence of life moving through me and I have to obey it. And so there is grit on the road, I am continuously being tested in my capacity to surf the waves, and there is an incessant demand to sacrifice any tendency to “play it small” in order to fulfill my destiny in the world. To be more accurate, it is not “my destiny,” but the destiny of life’s flow.

I hope that you, too, my friend, have the courage to live selflessly by listening to the deepest call within you—before or after awakening, it does not matter. In any case, none of it really matters because when you die, the whole movie comes to an end. What is there to lose, my friend? Only an illusory idea of comfort and security. What is there to gain? Just the deepest fulfillment of following what is true in you.

Embodied EnlightenmentAmoda Maa Jeevan is the author of Embodied Enlightenment: Living Your Awakening in Every Moment, published by New Harbinger Publications. Copyright 2017.