Solitude and Awakening

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runstrails
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Solitude and Awakening

Post by runstrails » Sat Jul 13, 2019 3:19 am

I found this short article very interesting. It interviews people who have happily lived in solitude for decades...and to me, it sounds like their experiences of solitude lead to awakening.

https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-48968502

And it makes sense, if you were willingly, happily, living in nature by yourself for years on end, you would likely lose sense of self and feel at one with the larger world. Don't you think?

steve Davidson
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Re: Solitude and Awakening

Post by steve Davidson » Sat Jul 13, 2019 4:54 am

Interesting article, thank you for sharing it with us.

Yes, i think so too that these people lose their sense of self and feel at one with the larger world.

However, few of us would be willing to live like they live.

I never was into backpacking or being alone for extended periods like that. But i have known people who have taken some time off and gone backpacking in the wilderness for a extended time. I asked one of them what it was like and what he experienced. He told me he still had a lot of thoughts and his mind was very active and he even had a lot of sexual thoughts. I was surprised by this and said i would think your sexual thoughts would be less when you are alone in the middle of the wilderness, not seeing any women or movies, etc. and he said it was the opposite, at least for him, that he had even more sexual thoughts than usual, that is what his mind was thinking about often. He also of course experienced a lot of positive things during his time alone, but the fact is we take our minds with us, wherever we go, even if it is the most beautiful quiet environment, our minds can be loud and active.

steve Davidson
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Re: Solitude and Awakening

Post by steve Davidson » Sat Jul 13, 2019 7:23 am

Here is something from Ramana Maharshi that speaks about solitude and also talks about how you can help others and the world:

30th January,1935 Talks with Ramana Maharshi

Mr. Evans-Wentz: Is solitude necessary for a jnani?
M.: Solitude is in the mind of man. One might be in the thick of the world and maintain
serenity of mind; such a one is in solitude. Another may stay in a forest, but still be unable to
control his mind. He cannot be said to be in solitude. Solitude is a function of the mind. A
man attached to desire cannot get solitude wherever he may be; a detached man is always in
solitude.
D.: So then, one might be engaged in work and be free from desire and keep up solitude. Is it
so?
M.: Yes. Work performed with attachment is a shackle, whereas work performed with
detachment does not affect the doer. He is, even while working, in solitude.
D.: They say that there are many saints in Tibet who remain in solitude and are still very
helpful to the world. How can it be?
M.: It can be so. Realisation of the Self is the greatest help that can be rendered to humanity.
Therefore, the saints are said to be helpful, though they remain in forests. But it should not be
forgotten that solitude is not in forests only. It can be had even in towns, in the thick of
worldly occupations.
D.: It is not necessary that the saints should mix with people and be helpful to them?
M.: The Self alone is the Reality; the world and the rest of it are not. The realised being does
not see the world as different from himself.
D.: Thus then, the saint’s realisation leads to the uplift of humanity without the latter being
aware of it. Is it so?
M.: Yes. The help is imperceptible but is still there. A saint helps the whole of humanity,
unknown to the latter.
D.: Would it not be better if he mixed with others?
M.: There are no others to mix with. The Self is the one and only Reality.
D.: If there be a hundred Self-realised men will it not be to the greater benefit of the world?
M.: When you say ‘Self’ you refer to the unlimited, but when you add ‘men’ to it, you limit
the meaning. There is only one Infinite Self.
D.: Yes, yes, I see! Sri Krishna has said in the Gita that work must be performed without
attachment and such work is better than idleness. Is it Karma Yoga?
M.: What is said is given out to suit the temperament of the hearers.
D.: In Europe it is not understood by the people that a man in solitude can be helpful. They
imagine that men working in the world can alone be useful. When will this confusion cease?
Will the European mind continue wading in the morass or will it realise the truth?
M.: Never mind Europe or America. Where are they except in your mind? Realise your Self
and then all is realised.
If you dream and see several men, and then wake up and recall your dream, do you try to
ascertain if the persons of your dream creation are also awake?

runstrails
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Re: Solitude and Awakening

Post by runstrails » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:59 pm

Hi Steve,
Good insights (as always). I agree that solitude is not for everyone and for some (as you have described) it will amplify recursive thinking. Interestingly, many of the great awakened souls (Jesus, Buddha, Ramana himself! and the sages of ancient India) spent many years in solitude. So, I don't doubt that there is a connection between solitude and assimilating self-knowledge. But as you point out, its not for everyone.

Thanks for the Ramana quotes. Great stuff. And such a timely reminder that Karma Yoga (action performed without regard to the results--i.e., surrendering the results to Ishvara/God/Universe) is really the answer to most aspects of life!

As an aside, I started reading the book by Sarah Maitland one of the persons interviewed in that article and its very good. I'm only a few pages into it though. A Book of Silence: Sarah Maitland.
https://www.amazon.com/Book-Silence-Sar ... 1582436134

steve Davidson
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Re: Solitude and Awakening

Post by steve Davidson » Sun Jul 14, 2019 2:57 am

Glad you are reading her book right now, it looks good.

I read a few articles about others who were living in solitude and it seems more common than i thought. Certain people are indeed attracted to that lifestyle.

What about you personally, have you spent any time in solitude? Do you spend any time in silence?

As for myself, i enjoy silence. I hardly watch any tv and if possible, i enjoy sitting in silence reading or just sitting and being, especially in nature. I would have no problem being in silence away from all noises for awhile, but would not want it to be for years. I prefer a nice balance between alone quiet time and being around people. And as Ramana said, which i agree with, one can be in the world, in the midst of all, and still be in solitude.

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Re: Solitude and Awakening

Post by runstrails » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:50 am

Hi Steve,
Thanks for your input! I do love my solitude. Its a chance to reflect on the teachings, take a stand in/as awareness and just enjoy the accompanying ananda (bliss). I'm less able to be in solitude in transactional reality (i.e., every day goings on). These days I am focusing more on letting things be and seeing Ishavara's order (universe's unfolding) in how things shake out. It is very freeing :D.

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