July 24, 2010

In The Cave.

What Is Your Place Of Refuge?

Ever since consciousness dawned on man, caves have been used as places to connect with the greater dimension of life. The Buddha himself spent many years in caves in Northern India, both before and after his enlightenment. Last February, during Shantum SethIn the Footsteps of the Buddha pilgrimage, I had the great privilege to visit several of the caves where the Buddha meditated and talked. One cave in particular, alongside the windy path up Vulture Peak, made a lasting impression. I remember huddling inside with my fellow pilgrims, and all of us sitting for an impromptu meditation. For a short while, I wrestled with the uneven stone that served as my seat. And then, at once, a sudden feeling a absolute stillness, and an energy field beyond the world of thoughts and ordinary emotions. Hard to put in words really, and a most beautiful experience, that was corroborated by others afterwards.

Back home, I have my own cave. A place where I can retreat whenever I am not alone in the house, and I want to meditate, uninterrupted. Not as dramatic as the Buddha’s cave, but good enough: the walking closet next to my bedroom.

This morning, sitting in there, I reached a place of deep calmness, not unlike what I had experienced in the Buddha’s cave. Oh! the joy. I could have sat there for a very long time. Half-way through, the sound came, of my daughter calling for me. “Mom!” . . . “Mom!” . . . “Mom!” many times over. This was not an emergency, I could tell from her voice. In my cave, I stayed, perfectly silent and still, and waited until the bell rang to resume my motherly duties. She wanted to know, “how do I bleach my shirt?”

Do you have a cave, a place you can retreat to, when you want to be alone with yourself? I would love to hear.

Other posts on same topic, that I have enjoyed:

– ‘Meditation for the Working-Class Family Folks‘ by John Pappas

– ‘Family Life As Practice‘ by John Makransky

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