“We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being.” Hermann Hesse
“There can be immense benefit in seeking places of solitude and stillness, removing ourselves for periods of time from the bustle of the world. If we bring our aversion to the world with us to these sacred places, we also bring the bustle. If we learn to enter into sacred spaces with the intention to be awake and listen fully, they deepen and enrich us. We learn powerful lessons of letting go, of stillness and sensitivity. We learn the lessons of freedom that are offered in the meandering thought, the fleeting sensation, in the heart of sorrow and joy. We learn to live in harmony with what is, to discover the spaces between thoughts and the stillness between sounds. We explore the profound stillness that embraces the gaps between the events and the events themselves.
We discover how vast and encompassing our hearts can be, and that wisdom has no end. The freedom of not resting upon anything, not being defined by anything, not wanting or missing anything, not being captive anywhere. Stillness and awareness are the nature of the mind unobstructed by grasping. Compassion is born of the understanding of emptiness. Within this world of arising and passing forms of life in all its shapes and bodies, there is nothing separate from ourselves. In listening deeply to the world, understanding the causes of suffering and the way to its end, no other response is possible but compassion. Aware but still, we are awakened by the “ten thousand things.”
Discovering these sacred spaces of stillness, we are encouraged to approach life in a sacred way. Great moments of illumination do not only belong to the recluses of this world, but are found in the hearts of ordinary people, extraordinary in their capacity to be awakened by their life. A couple raising and nurturing a profoundly disabled child, speak of it as a spiritual journey. The sleepless nights, the constant care, the surrender of personal freedom teaches them new depth of kindness, patience and generosity. A young Tibetan nun thanks her torturer for awakening her to new depths of faith, compassion, and forgiveness. A teacher speaks of approaching her day as an opportunity to awaken just one child to new possibilities. A former athlete, debilitated by chronic fatigue, tells of the discovery of trust, humility, and kindness, amid his helplessness. The essence of all spiritual teaching encourages us to turn toward our life and discover a freedom that leans upon nothing and embraces everything.” Christina Feldman