After a long, luscious period of sitting together in silence, Gangaji asked, ‘Are your minds beginning to wind down?’ One of the benefits of gathering in a retreat space, particularly in a place like Findhorn, is to have the support to rest and open. Gangaji likes to leave plenty of space for participants on retreat to be unstructured. Contrary to society’s messages, you don’t have to be industrious, you don’t have to be engaged in conversation, you don’t have to do anything.
As the mind unwinds, there can be resistance or fear – it’s the same fear we have of death. Gangaji encourages us to open to a trust of what arises in the mind. In our over-industrialised nations, this need to constantly be ‘doing’ is very deep in our psyche. It is radical to do nothing. Retreat is an opportunity not to follow our normal commands. If a nap is what you need, take a nap. If a walk is what you need, take a walk. You have permission to be happy, to be free, to be your self, and you also have permission not to do that. You’re grown up now, although our internal commands from childhood still arise.
Just be open to the truth without trying to understand it. It is closer than understanding. The radical invitation from Ramana, from Papaji, is to be still. Don’t try to understand who you are, or who the other is, or what you should be doing or shouldn’t be doing. Then there is a natural blossoming of the truth, waiting to come out. It can’t be forced. Let there be a natural, organic blooming of the truth that has always been in you.
We have our alarm clocks, we have our schedules, even here on this retreat, but just let that in – you are free, and you have the privilege of being relatively free, in other words, not in prison. You are free to speak heresy and you are free to hear heresy. So, what do we do with this freedom? Nothing – let it live your life. Let truth lead you to understanding. This means 90% of the thoughts we think over and over needn’t be thought! We can conserve our thought energy. The truth lives you, breathes you – let it live your life, let it inform your insides, your poetry, your dishwashing, your sweeping up…. That’s the point of being in Findhorn – there’s great support – it holds you. It may hold you under water for awhile – it may not be comfortable – but it is support. We can’t even begin to understand how Findhorn is supporting us, how we are supporting one another. It’s deeper than understanding.
Gangaji reiterated, ‘I support you fully in relaxing, in taking in what’s here. Who knows if you will ever be back here to Findhorn again or if this place will even be here. We’re lucky – we’re here now. And that support automatically goes to those who aren’t here; it’s naturally unfolding.’
During this morning’s inquiry, a participant brought the experience of the mind spinning with the notion of moving in and out of separation and oneness. Gangaji spoke of the experience of realising what you’ve never moved out of, never been separate from. Let the mind spin, just let it spin off its moorings. To that both Gangaji and the participant burst into laughter. ‘Now, that’s a language I understand,’ Gangaji declared. The participant said he knew nothing, to which Gangaji replied, ‘That is a very pristine beginning.’ Those of us who have benefited from being educated have difficulty being willing to open to receive. To consciously not know, and to meet your death, gives you knowing – direct knowing which only comes from a willingness not to know. If you try to hold on to that knowing, it’s the same thing as not knowing. It’s your imagination, and imagination is beautiful, but for purposes of self-discovery, it’s not useful. Imagination has huge power. It mediates how we experience reality, life, each other. The invitation is to not know and yet to be awake, to be part of the whole – receiving from the whole and contributing to the whole.
To this the participant said, ‘I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about,’ and Gangaji responded, ‘I’ll take that as a confirming sign.’ Once again, laughter filled the auditorium.
Another participant started her inquiry by saying, ‘My problem is….’ when Gangaji suddenly stopped her and said, ‘Wait, before you tell me your problem, what is your solution? What else is new? Is there some emotion? Emotions are not a problem. Just take a moment, as an experiment. If this problem is imaginary, then what is here? There’s no right answer. Let’s just be with this moment. I’m a ‘moment doctor.’ Let’s begin where we are which is right here. There are signs of emotion. What’s the emotion? The cause is irrelevant. The emotion can take us deeper into ourselves. Identify the emotion without evaluating it. Is it possible just to let it be here?
The participant said ‘nothing’ was here. Gangaji replied, ‘ Can you just open your consciousness to nothing being here?’ ‘No,’ said the participant, ‘because I’m still suffering.’ Gangaji shared, ‘There is a moment of choice to experience what is here rather than concentrating on suffering. What happens if you allow your attention to sink deeper? Our natural intuition is to move away from suffering and toward pleasure. The invitation is to be counter-intuitive, to discover the source of our pain, the source of our pleasure. For this we need an enormous amount of strength. If the focus is on suffering, suffering will continue. Freedom is below suffering. We are human animals with animal instincts to preserve the body, until there is a recognition of the limits of that and a desire for something deeper. We need to be willing to suffer to get to freedom. Conscious suffering is the conduit for freedom.’
There comes a time when we outgrow our cocoon, when we long for something our ‘normal’ life can never give us, when we can face death. Of course, some people live their whole lives just forgetting about death and there’s nothing wrong with that, but there are those of us who long to awaken. Maybe we’ve always longed and never been normal. Findhorn certainly isn’t normal and no matter how hard it tries, it will never be normal. Gangaji then recalled her own search for someone to save her. She looked to Jesus, to the Buddha, to the Goddess. It was exhausting. Then she met Papaji who said, Stop. Deeply, internally, stop. That’s my invitation to you, just for our time together. You’ve signed up for this retreat, so let’s just stop.
Another participant spoke of the courage it took just to come and sit in the chair beside Gangaji and expose herself to all the people in the Hall. Gangaji reminded us of our herd mentality that keeps us low, afraid to expose ourselves. Under that is a longing and a desire to surrender that takes us to where we need to be.
Someone else spoke of having moments of great peace, then scampering off, chasing the next thing, getting lost again. Gangaji encouraged us to stop and, for a moment, appreciate that great peace. ‘First of all,’ she said, ‘there is always more.’ However, there will be inbetween times too when things can seem flat. Papaji used to talk of a transit time. He likened it to being in a waiting room of an airport, having just got off one plane and waiting for the next one. Now we have a choice. We can leave or stay, but most normal people would stay of course. So we don’t escape the transit lounge, we wait.
It’s not you that goes somewhere. It’s simply revealed. We can’t do it. It is done. Even if I die in this moment, I do nothing. You don’t do it – you are available to it. It’s free from you and me. Trust yourself, trust this peace, then you will see. Past conditioning will come up. Let it arise, don’t touch it, just rest in this peace. You see for yourself what has always been here – it’s retroactive. You are peace – it’s not a place, or a state or a sense or a feeling or an experience. It is not separate from anything and it is free of everything. And it is recognised by the intelligence of the heart.
Join us later today when we bring you this afternoon’s session of inquiry with Gangaji.
– Mattie Porte –
May 24, 2008