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11/5/09

Spending Five Months In Silence

If you have ever tried gazing at a wall for hours a day, every day of the week, you can appreciate the account below. I have done it. I have attended Zen sesshins, sitting in lotus position, following my breath, noticing the occasional wayward thought or sensation as it skittered across a somewhere called the mind. Meditation, deep and prolonged, changes things. It alters how you look at the world and how you look within. Read on about meditating in Nepal.

"My childhood nickname was 'Chatterduck.' But last year, I decided to spend five months on silent meditation retreat, mostly in Nepal. What, my friends have asked (at least the ones who didn't think I'd lost my mind), is it like to spend five months without talking, writing, or even updating my facebook status? Short answer: not what you'd expect, but more powerful.

First of all, not talking is the easy part. You don't go crazy, and you don't forget how to speak."

". . . What's the point of noting all these mundane sensations, feelings, and thoughts? Well, enlightenment, of course, which comes as a result of seeing directly and in one's own experience that perceptions arise and pass of their own accord, that none of them ever really satisfies, and that there's no self or soul separate from the sensations, feelings, and thoughts themselves. Consciousness just happens, and the interiority of our experience is an illusion. There's no there, here. . . . There weren't many weird mystical fireworks that shot off during my months of silence -- just a lot of time to see the ordinary very, very clearly. This is true in everyday experience, too. It's not like most of us don't know what's good for us; we do. We're just too busy chasing the next pleasant experience to live up to our own ideals. Sure, what really matters is timeless and free -- but the timeless and free is also boring. So we get back on the hamster wheel and start spinning." More

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