Well, I’m off. At least that’s what some people think. Actually, I don’t start driving until Sunday morning. I’m heading to a one month silent meditation retreat in Massachusetts.
For the last few weeks, I’ve told folks where I’m going. Over the years the responses I’ve received have pretty much been the same: “Oh, I couldn’t do that!” Only two or three human beings thought they could.
Many people look at me funny when I say I’m going to be silent for a month (three months back in 2015). When I mention that I’m a Buddhist, some of them really get weirded out. “You’re not a Christian?” “No.”
All of this pales before what I’ve decided to tell them in front of this trip. I’ve only said this to a few because they’ve thought it’s so strange. I’m tempted to shut up, such as right now. But that’s no fun … so here goes.
“I’m going to this retreat to love people, to explore what the depths of love can be.” It will be unlike any I’ve been on. Usually, I’d have a few hours at the beginning to talk to other yogis, and a few hours at the end to discuss how it went. On February 1, I immerse myself in an environment where I’ll never talk to the other participants. I won’t make eye contact with them. Is it possible to love people whom I won’t meet? They’ll be near me in the meditation hall and the dining room. I’ll look at their faces and bodies, from the side. I’ll see the joy and pain. There won’t be any contact but I say there’ll be a connection.
Sometimes love is more of an exchange than a communion. “I’ll keep loving you as long as you keep doing X.” Happily, relationship can be a world beyond that.
And then, who do you love? For some, it’s just themselves. Or just my life partner. Or my family. Or the members of my faith or culture. How about everyone, even the grumpy folks? How about all beings, from my dear one to a mosquito? Is it possible?
So off I go, curious about how widely love can spread its wings.
I’ll never meet them
Probably I’ll never see them again
I want nothing from them
Ain’t life grand?