I’ve been meditating since 2007 and have been going on silent meditation retreats since 2010, including two that lasted three months. I learned many things, including the value of being still. Just as the Buddha was still under the Bodhi tree for hours … until enlightenment said hello.
I have no interest in enlightenment but the stillness remains with me. At the retreats, feeling “in place”, immersed in the truth of the Buddha’s teachings and immersed in the moment, was contrasted with “leaning forward”. As in never quite staying in this second, being so eager to rush into the next one … and missing them both.
My more recent work with the Evolutionary Collective has shown a different way. Being unchanging and centered doesn’t draw me anymore. Instead, I feel a pull to move forward into the future, which like the present is evolving. It’s not like I’m at Point A and saying “I’m going to Point B!” Rather, I’m roaming around what seems like Point A, and I’m just going. I don’t know where but I feel that the path is good.
In the 1970’s, I read Carlos Castaneda’s book The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. It records conversations Carlos had between 1960 and 1965 with an aboriginal mystic – Don Juan Matus from Sonora, Mexico. No doubt Don Juan knew all about stillness, but his life moved. There was a path.
Before you embark on any path ask the question: “Does this path have a heart?” If the answer is no, you will know it, and then you must choose another path. The trouble is nobody asks the question. And when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart, the path is ready to kill him. At that point very few men can stop to deliberate, and leave the path. A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy. It does not make you work at liking it.
Thank you, Don Juan. You helped me forty-five years ago and you help me now. Despite not seeing a destination, I’m at ease with the journey. I simply walk and smile with my friends. Hearts and smiles go well together.