A student recently asked Shunyamurti, “How does a silent retreat help?” In response, he wrote this inspirational essay on “The Power of a Silent Retreat.”
The Power of a Silent Retreat
If you are coming to a retreat because you have decided you want to be free of the suffering caused by the ego, and you are willing to do what it takes to attain Self-realization—which involves deep meditation, then a silent retreat can be of enormous help.
This is because the capacity of the ego to keep consciousness captive within its illusory world depends on its ability to maintain its equilibrium through the production of a certain kind of mental discourse and behavioral ploys to sustain subjectively favorable kinds of social bonding.
The silent retreat, conducted in an energy field governed by Dharma, minimizes the opportunities for the ego to impress others, to form couples, to massify in order to collude against the power structure, or otherwise to act out its multi-faceted imaginary/symbolic representational pseudo-existence, producing conflictive scenarios in its wake.
Once outer silence is accepted, it is far easier to make the mind subside into inner silence as well, especially once one feels the relief and healing that such inner peace provides. The deeper one enters into meditative Silence, the more wisdom is accrued, the more detachment, and the more independence from the Other of the phenomenal plane. This is the significance of the mantra Om Namah Shivaya.
This is also the true meaning of meditation:
to bring the attention to its Silent core of Pure Egoless Presence and have the power to abide in this immovable, impeccable, and impervious Center of the Real. This is the significance of the mantra Shivoham.
When Silence is total, then the Supreme Understanding unfolds. Awareness transcends all frames of reference, all symbolic grids of meaning, and all mental and sensuous attractors. The Silence is the infinite consciousness that contains all Knowledge and thus abides as the timeless changeless Absolute. About This, nothing can be said, nothing can be thought. This is the significance of the mantra Om Tat Sat.
A silent retreat helps the attendee to gain control over its own sabotaging mind and to bring its full attention to its essential Self in order to become coherent, discerning, expansive, empowered, and egoless. By cutting off the options of using language to foment the ego’s desires and enjoyments, the silent yogi starves the ego of its junk food diet and forces the awareness to nourish itself from its living Source.
Through silence, the ego is eliminated as a factor in consciousness, and life becomes a fulfilling expression of the infinite divine nature of Pure Presence, the Knower and the Dreamer of the Cosmic Dream.