You know what I did there? I thought negatively most of the time.
I had been there once before, three years ago, so some of the faces I saw were familiar. Actually, many of the faces were familiar. One of the first things I thought was; “these people must come back every year! What’s wrong with them? Why aren’t they free already? They probably don’t really want to get free, they just like coming.” I promised myself I wouldn’t be a serial retreater, I’d get free right here, right now. And then I worried that maybe I won’t get free this time and I’ll become “one of them”.
“Oh, how horrible that would be!” I thought. “I must work hard, I must achieve, I must be better than them, I must be better than I am now, and I must be quick about it!”
I went to lunch with various people and listened to them talk about “how much progress they were making”. I silently judged them. Well, I wasn’t always silent about it, unfortunately. I could oh-so-clearly see how they were causing themselves to suffer with their thoughts, so sometimes I told them what they could do to fix themselves.
Denise the Guru.
I wasn’t the only self-proclaimed guru there either. There were many of us, and by the end of the week I began feeling restless by all of the advice I was giving, and being given. I’ve learned to recognize that feeling of “boredom”. It means something needs to change. It means I either need to change, or I need to change something about my life.
Just the awareness of that is enough to bring on the change needed, thankfully.
So yesterday, on the last day of the retreat, I naturally stopped buying into every one of my thoughts, philosophies and opinions. I questioned them instead. I stopped believing everyone else’s thoughts, opinions, and philosophies too. Even that of the facilitator. I stopped taking everything as gospel and decided to take it for knowing instead. Knowing is based on experience, and until I experienced the truth for myself, I wouldn’t buy into anyone’s version of it, especially not my own.
On the plane ride home I found an email I had neglected to read the other day. It was from a favorite spiritual teacher of mine. She explained how there is no truth and there is no non-truth. There is no right and there is no wrong. There is just “what is”.
It’s funny how we get the answers we need when we need them, isn’t it? Funnier still, how sometimes the answers don’t make sense until we are ready for them. This time, the timing was perfect.
The very next thought I had I said to myself, “this thought isn’t right or wrong, it’s just what is.”
Wow, how the mind quieted down! It had nothing to say to that. How can it argue when it’s being told that there is NO answer? It felt wonderful and peaceful and silent and even a bit curious—what is this NOTHINGNESS, and please sir, may I have some more?
Yes, my mind eventually got silent. I couldn’t believe it. I recognized that the silence is not NOTHINGNESS in the sense of defeat. It’s where the higher intelligence lives, and it’s where the answers we are looking for are found. Maybe not right away, but they will come. Or there will be peace.
I looked back on my time at the retreat and thought about the people who didn’t randomly pass out advice. I had found these people to be difficult to have a conversation with. They weren’t talking so much as listening, and I was used to lots of communication (interrupting and being interrupted mainly). I realized it’s the quiet ones who are the biggest guru’s. It’s the ones who don’t run around insisting they have all the answers who have the most freedom.
I think I may have found my key. I will keep using it until I know for sure.
I am forever grateful to all the amazing people I met at this incredible retreat. Every single one of them influenced me in some way, and I hope they all find their unique key to unlock the freedom we all seek. I also expect to see them again one day soon because I just may become a serial retreater from now on! It’s not right or wrong, it just IS.
Namaste! From my “inner guru” to yours.