Joshua Tree has always been a magical place.. but now, now… it’s sacred.
I just completed my first 10 days of silence at the Dhamma Vipassana Center, lead by the incredible late S. N. Goenka and I have to say…. it’s in the top 5 of most amazing and profound things I’ve ever done..
During this retreat, there are countless things to recall.. it’s impossible to really focus in on any single one. Moments of pure joy and silent belly laughs to deep surgical reflection of the self and the purpose of this life.. I cannot tell you about the meditation.. that is an experience that only the person doing it can understand. This retreat takes “you had to be there” to a whole new level. So I do not want to taint the experience of anyone by explaining the process of the meditation itself – it’s too personal. All I can say is go. Find 10 days and go. It will change your life.
There are a few things that rested most with me.
I started out on day one asking “oh man… who am I if I don’t get to tell people who I am?” A couple of us had arrived late and went straight into our silence.. I had no time to introduce myself… to explain myself… to provide a first impression. I thought this question everyday. I also wondered if the clouds know they’re beautiful. I wondered if worker ants ever stand back to marvel at their amazing creations like we do.. and when they’re destroyed by a careless passerby, do they call it a natural disaster or an act of God… I wondered if all these women always looked for the moon at night. I wondered who desert flowers blossom for. I wondered what day it was.
As the days went on, I found myself breaking noble silence not by speaking, but by smiling at everyone.. though we were to be working as if we were alone, I could not help but smile at everyone that walked by. Everyone that I passed in the bathroom or watched enter the meditation hall. I simply felt too much joy to be in the desert wandering around with all these other strange creatures.. I had to smile about it. I had to smile at the gargling bellies in the meditation hall. At the lizard watching the worker ants. At the women pausing to take in the sunrise. At the restlessness of the room and my own mind. How very curious this all was. This was not everyone’s experience of course… but I was lucky I suppose.
I did find answers…
Of course the clouds don’t know they’re beautiful – that’s why they’re beautiful.
Ants don’t marvel at their own creations.. but they do die building them….
I figure it doesn’t matter if looking at the moon is a new or old habit. All that matters is that for those 10 nights, it was the habit.
Desert Flowers – they blossom for us.
I never figured out what day it was..
And at the very end of the retreat, the women I was with answered the first question for me by thanking me for smiling.
I am smiling.
Do yourself a favor. Cease talking for 10 days and just be… find out who you are.