Day 5: Silent Meditation Retreat, 2023

I am now in the fifth day of not knowing what floods into the inbox, text messages, the various communication apps on my phone and desktop and brain. I haven’t read the news to know what other worrisome headline or political circus is afoot. I AM UNPLUGGED. One could get mentally healthy this way.

It hasn’t been all rest, though. The temptation of outside work was great and I went hard yesterday, physically and mentally. Not in a supercharged fashion, but rather just pushing myself too long. I spent the better part of the day in non-stop, though well-paced, work; and in that work I was in mantra, repeating over and over my selected phrase. Which was not, incidentally, “Make America Great Again.”

I’ll wax more introspective and contemplative now with some various threads that came up for me, any of which could be double-clicked to expand into larger worlds in this particular microcosm that is me.

Self-Examinations: The mind continually reaches and grasps with a hundred desires, resulting in overwhelm. And pain at the unfeasibility and the constant reminders of my limitations relative to the strengths of others. It turns to see the wealth of knowledge available that will remain out of reach; and it considers all the information I have absorbed, seemingly, but how little the memory retains.

There are many things I want to do—be with loved ones more, travel, use social media to connect, read (everything), learn a language, make more creative offerings, become a world-class mountaineer, learn to write more skillfully, be a better husband/friend—but supreme among that which has called me from the beginning is self-realization.

There is a master’s course available to me, but to walk it…

It is an effort to work out my own salvation. That is ever the project I am engaged in, underneath the various energy expenditures of the day. It is needed, because of… dissatisfaction, to put it one way; misery, to put it another. Virtually every pursuit ends with fleeting satisfaction or the dissatisfaction of emptiness. A service to a loved one, or to L/L or to anyone, personal or organizational accomplishment, a good time with a friend, along with sexual energy exchange with Trisha—those can leave a satiated afterglow, but by and large the projects for lasting satisfaction and peace come up empty-handed.

This is why (typically only weekend) alcohol and/or nicotine are an issue. The brief momentary relief they offer, and the easy shift in consciousness, foster a greedy, attached reaching. The strong will within me falsely senses, or rather, buys into the lie that this is a way toward peace; this is a way out; or at least: this will bring relief from the chronic discomfort/burden/weariness.

If I get deep enough into it, I’ve discovered that there is also a yearning for oblivion, for the erasure of self. I am fortunate to have programming and guardrails sufficient to keep me well clear of the truly destructive and addictive behaviors and substances in the deep end; I am ever wired for meeting my responsibilities. But what I do engage is is still a deviation from the straight and narrow—a “groping in the moonlight.”

Part of the melancholy that comes up in between the busyness is that no matter all the effort, effort, effort, I still end up being the same wretch that I was before, though often well-hidden from others. And it is that base-layer condition that drives the distracted patterns and the search for escape and relief and self-medication (insofar as I allow myself those reprieves/self-sabotages).

In the complexity and fullness of dynamics within me, I notice a disenchantment with the world, with self, a sense of impurity about it all, and a deep rejection. I wonder if part of the numbness, and the scorched earth I feel at times, particularly when knowingly surrounded in beauty, is that rejection. Was I hurt early on in this life? Live’s past? Did I shut down?

The pain of not meeting a responsibility is among the hardest. In fact, I’ve learned that one of my greatest, soul-deep fears is failing my responsibility to L/L Research or my primary relationship in some way. (1:11) One of my greatest drives and hopes and needs in life is just to accomplish the work before me, to fulfill what I incarnated to do. I intend that not in a grandiose fashion: everyone incarnates to fulfill a program of learning and service. It is perhaps a rather universal if not generic thing to say.

The Reaching Higher: To open that indigo awareness, Ra describes a couple broad-pattern prerequisites when they say that “This One is to be sought, as we have said, by the balanced and self-accepting self, aware both of its apparent distortions and its total perfection.” They then go on to describe the clearing of the chakras so that the kundalini may reach the indigo ray.

Ramana doesn’t quite speak to these prerequisites, though it can be unpacked from his teaching. He speaks principally to that final and third portion of the three-part disciplines of the personality: to become the Creator. He does this through the simple but laser-like focus on the quest of cutting off the ego at its source, which is also the key to the dissolution of the separate self—the dissolution of all illusion, suffering, and misunderstanding.

He repeatedly indicates that by engaging the direct method of self-inquiry, the past conditioning, habituated patterns, attachments/aversions, karmas, etc.—what his native philosophy calls vasanas and samskaras—arise to be worked through and burned away. This is what Ra would refer to as “distortion leavings” and the process whereby distortions “fall away.”


And in this journey, Ramana highlights what I would call the North Star, which is the pinnacle use of the faculty of will, by directing the sight to the quintessential root (or terminus) of the straight and narrow: the end of the illusion of an individual “I” and its illusion of an individual will. So long as one, through self-discipline, continually sets their sight upon the North Star, recalibrating through circumstance after head-turning circumstance, the right experiences will come along to support the fulfillment of that desire. It is a vector, and it is why the Confederation continually counsels the clarifying and purifying of the intention and desire. The vector is a way of being and necessarily requires self-discipline.

When there is time for the preoccupied mind to do so, I like to contemplate the Ra’s description of the Logos, or Second Distortion, or Creative Principle as a literal Focus of intelligent infinity, and the relationship of that with the single-pointedness necessary for contemplative absorption, Samadhi, and the collapse of the subject-object dichotomy (or the end of the trinity of knower, knowing, and known).

In that one-pointedness, fixed upon one thought to the exclusion of all else, the mind gains strength and stops wavering. The subject (the false “I” you think you are) is absorbed into the object until the object vanishes. The self then sinks into Source, un-separated, once again not other-than the Logos. This is not as a new state, but a remembering of the state that always was and will ever be. There is total, pure, present moment awareness. Equanimous in all things. Simple, effortless witnessing. It is the all-seeing eye. Aware of but unattached to/unaffected by the passing images of light and shadow, embracing all phenomena in unbroken, foreverness. The I Am. Absolute consciousness.


I’ve read a whole 400+ page book of Ramana’s teaching. I have returned to my dog-eared pages, and highlighted, asterisked, annotated passages many times over the past maybe 15 years or so. I’m surprised the binding is holding together. But in all those visits, even if spending an hour reading those words, it is the visit of a busy mind in a crowded schedule. I am reading, I am intellectually absorbing, but seldom am I doing the work and following his sole teaching to go within to search for the “I” in the space of agenda-less quiet, and deep stabilized focus.

This time for the first time, I did. I went in search of the “I”. I looked at the phenomena arising in my awareness. A thought. A memory. A sensation. A worry. A story. A cloud of energy. My body. Etc. Each thing could be seen, but where is the “I”? To whom are these things occurring? What keeps saying “I” in the inner and outer monologues of: I feel, and I think, and I want; and This or that happened to me; or I once did, or I will do? Where is the I? There is this sensation and that sensation, but where is the “I”? I feel the body and its subtle tension, but where is the I? Each thing that can be seen and named is not the “I”, but yet there is an awareness of these objects, and this awareness is not seen. What is this awareness?

For the first time I got a glimmer of a glimpse of what Ramana says over and over, and what the Law of One corroborates, and what the perennial philosophy reinforces: There is no I. Ramana specifically encourages the search for the I, because it will lead eventually to the certain understanding of its non-existence; and the true state, which had always been there, just seemingly obscured, will become apparent. It is wild. It is the aroma of liberation wafting from a(n illusory) distant, exotic, and unseen source.

In the work of spirit generally, and a meditation retreat specifically, one is visited by glimpses of the deeper work underway as it brushes up to that subtly sensed liminal threshold. Like wading in warm surface waters to feel a ribbon of cool water flow upward from the depths to move past legs and torso, a reminder of what awaits below.

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