On 30 September 2011, I concluded a year-long Sabbatical. At the conclusion of this retreat, it has become apparent to me that I would now spend some time with all that I learned and discovered and promised myself in this while. This year that I spent mostly with myself—in my room at the writing desk, or in my garden lounging curled up in an old, beat-up but lovely cane garden-chair—initially reintroduced me to my inner life and landscape. In its latter half, the journey turned outwards. I knew, with ever-greater clarity, what I was to be and do ahead.
Here are a few things I know for sure I intend:
— To live a less ‘wired’, and more ‘earthed’ life. This means a greater, conscious contact with Nature. Less Internet.
— To move into deeper silence. Avoid unnecessary speech.
— To cultivate greater quality in relationships with people, places, things.
— To appreciate that which is not a person, place, thing, or event.
— To teach and communicate what I know.
— To continue learning and unlearning, as necessary.
— To align with the greater (and smaller) rhythms of life.
— To do what I must do, how I must do, when I must do.
— To create. (Update, 20 Jan ’12: My first creative project since the Sabbatical, On Writing, is now under prep for release.)
— To enjoy my time on Earth.
— Be authentic.
There are a few things here that are new, such as a deeper connection with Nature. I was born and have lived in dense urban settings. This intent answers an inner longing.
Other matters are re-affirmations and rediscoveries. I learned in the year of my retreat that re-affirmations are important, often daily. Each day in life is to be lived saying “Aye, aye!” to that which is true within. If this practice is dropped, one may get floated away to places that are alien and unfamiliar to their true nature. Try as one might, there is no peace in such a situation. Can a fish make peace outside of water? (If it decides to go in a new direction, however, then it must evolve into something other than a fish.)
Finally, as expected, the year-off led to re-discovery: of who I am, of what I love, of what matters to me. A re-discovery of my values and my unique understanding of existence. It was quite unsettling to observe how far I’d gone from what I believe to be true. What was unexpected in all this was the content of what was discovered. A Buddhist teacher says, “Enlightenment is nothing like what you expect it to be.” Truly, I did not go in directions I expected to go into; I discovered something else. Yet it was familiar. And this is what was unexpected: that I knew ‘it’ all along! Argh!
I hear that many are investing into gold these days. The discovery of one’s true nature is worth more than gold—it is real gold. While I wouldn’t prevent anyone from investing in whatever property they consider it safe and prosperous to invest in :-}, I do invite the ones who’d care to seek my opinion that it is worth far more to invest in discovering and living themselves. (Discovery alone is not enough. It can indeed be painful, if one lacks the courage to put it into practice.) I think self-discovery does not serve mere philosophical needs: it is a matter of practical use. It governs all aspects of one’s life, including the all-important financial aspect. A person who considers themselves worth discovering and worth living excels in the practical areas of life in a way that someone with an opposite attitude would not.
These are the openings, the directions I have discovered. If I were to highlight two phrases that describe the emerging road ahead, it would be these: Deeper Silence. Deep Ecology. The links lead to inspirations for each. I invite you to explore them.
Edit, 13 October 2011: I must add a third without which nothing else would work: Deeper Honesty. As one contemplates, one discovers. When one discovers, inner honesty arises. This honesty then asks itself to be put into practice. Practicing honesty engenders further honesty. This entire process needs one to remain always aware of it. When one stops paying attention, they may slip inadvertently into dishonesty. This dishonesty may be as simple as mindlessly accepting invite to an event that one has not consciously decided to go to. A friend asks you to come over next weekend. You say, without thinking, “Yes, sure!” without actually meaning it. It may be that you’ve already promised to be elsewhere — perhaps to take a family member out. Why did you say yes?
This is the question I ask myself as I look back at life. Mindless ‘yeses’ and ‘nos’ take us to places where we hadn’t intended to be. As we trace the path back, we realize the value of always choosing consciously. That does not mean excessive thought. That just means knowing at the right time what exactly do you want to do at that moment, and then going with it. Your path is the standard by which you choose. If you chose wrong, but chose it mindfully, there is no resentment. If, however, you chose mindlessly, you would not be pleased with yourself.
To choose and to live with Deeper Honesty is to choose what I wish to choose at any given moment. That choosing can be in circumstances of outward freedom or force — it does not matter. What matters is me granting myself the freedom to choose with open inner eyes.
Now, a word for friends and others who may care:
I can also share that I intend to teach what I know to be true. Programs will be announced on this website in time. Though as I am paying a greater attention to place-based community and minimizing one’s footprint (and word-print!), I am testing the idea of working quietly and privately within my circle(s) of influence rather than broadcasting to the unconcerned. This is why this website remains barren. I am aware of some fantastic online solutions, but have not settled on one, yet. I vastly prefer that I am found in person; I have mostly shunned email. Thus it’s likely that any teachings I give are communicated through word-of-mouth.
Please know that since I am shifting from a life of self-regulation to a life based on natural rhythms, my energy is haywire during this shift, and I have not yet figured my pace out. For a long time, this behavior struck me as ‘shifty’ and I was deeply aggrieved with what I considered a personal flaw. Resistance to change only deepened what I thought was a crisis. For the past 5-6 years, I’ve been concerned about low energy levels and the sudden disappearance of interest in matters.
I have finally discovered that this relates to diet and life-value changes—thank goodness! Some of these were beneficial, and I would not have faced any challenge had I not resisted the changes that were occurring. Other sprang from foolishness, including sudden and extreme ‘environmentalist’ practices in a hostile setting. In retrospect, it’s both educative and amusing to me, and I look forward to share the experience. (I’ve been hearing a lot of similar stories; if you think there’s resonance here, please keep tabs on this space and on my Facebook page. I may just share a useful resource or plan a class on this!)
What stands true is that I have opted for a slow and deliberate lifestyle. I don’t get up and jump into things. I plan and pace ahead. I try my best to say “no” to that which doesn’t fit in with my life anymore—but much of it remains to be negotiated with those used to an older me or other life values.
Therefore: we only know for sure when we know for sure! :-}
All I can say is this I am very glad for having taken this journey, this far. Shukr’Allah!
On this note, I’d like to put the pen down for today, the first day after my year-long time-off—Saturday, 01 October 2011. It’s been a long and testing and delightful journey, and I am now preparing to let my Self go in directions best for its growth. Deeper stillness! Deeper silence!
Thank you for following this journey! Peace!