Tag Archives: silence

Reflections from silence

Just yesterday I finished my annual 3 week practice of silence and I wanted to share an entry from my diary which gives a hint why one would want to enter into silence:

Just this morning I went rowing for the second time. There was no rain, there were few clouds and almost no wind, so the lake was very calm and you could clearly see the reflection of the trees in the water. I enjoyed just staring over and into the water very much.

I came to understand the analogy of the mind with a lake a lot better because I suddenly had the idea to make a small experiment.

I held the boat still on a spot where I could clearly see the reflection of the top of the trees. I kept my eyes fixed on where I saw the reflection and in that place I started stirring the water with a paddle. When, because of the moving water, I wasn’t able to see the reflection anymore I stopped using the paddle and kept looking at that point. Suddenly, as the water started calming down, the reflection emerged and became clearer and clearer, until it was once again a very clear and accurate reflection of the tree top. I was amazed by seeing this, it was like a magic trick!

This little experiment helps my understanding that when the mind becomes perfectly calm, we can see things as they are. (And according to my understanding, seeing things as they are is the goal of the spiritual processes.)

中文版本稍後提供。
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Pictures from silence (2011) 守靜照片

I would like to share a number of pictures that I have taken after my first silence practice of 3 weeks, which was in 2011. The pictures were taken with my phone. I have also included one picture of myself almost immediately after the practice (it’s not one of the most flattering ones!).

Wolfgang calls this place his ‘cave’.

Enjoy.

我想和大家分享我在2011年三週守靜練習時所拍的照片。這些照片是以手機拍攝,當中還包含一張我自己在剛結束守靜後(並不怎麼好看)的照片。

沃夫岡總是稱這個地方為他的「洞穴」。

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Two wings to fly. 雙翅飛翔

God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches by means of opposites so that you will have two wings to fly, not one.
~ Rumi

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3 – This article

Last year after my silence practice, I felt like I had never felt before. My meditations were deep and powerful, my mind was calm, my energy level was high and my love for others was intense. I only had positive things to say about my practice. People were surprised when I told them that this year I experienced almost three weeks of intense mental suffering. I would like to share with you what I learned from that suffering and I hope it helps you in your meditation practices.

The two main causes of my suffering were self-condemnation and expectation. Let me try to explain how self-condemnation affected me first. One of the interesting things that I have observed in myself since beginning the practice of yoga, is a very strong idea that I need to improve myself, that I need to become perfect, so that I can experience ‘samadhi’, ‘enlightenment’ or some other over-my-head kind of thing. I do not know if that idea was there before I learned about spirituality or if the practice of yoga gave that idea a chance to manifest itself, but that is actually not so important.

What is important is that this idea of having to improve myself is based on another idea: “I am not good enough”. This idea is one of the most dangerous things I have encountered in my life. The moment that I started accepting this idea, I stopped accepting myself. Not accepting yourself is fundamentally unyogic; the first practice of yoga is the practice of ahimsa (non-violence). Practicing ahimsa means practicing love. Love means accepting all and rejecting none, that means accepting yourself as well as others.

Why does the practice of yoga begin with accepting all and rejecting none? One reason is that meditation that starts from “I am not good enough”, turns into a frantic experience of trying to become something, trying to achieve something and trying to do something. But meditation only happens when effort slowly stops and a calm, relaxed, concentrated, peaceful and joyous awareness remains. The only thing that you become when meditating from the “I am not good enough” idea is depressed and/or frustrated!

That depression and frustration is exactly what I experienced this year. And I experienced it very intensely. Even though I had already let go of a lot of my self-condemnation, that which is still present in me came forward in a very strong way.

There are two reasons that I was able to learn from my self-condemnation. One reason is that by experiencing the madness of trying to achieve something for a long period of time, I began to understand the uselessness of it. Another reason is that, whenever it was needed, Wolfgang reminded me to stop with condemning myself.

Some self-condemnation still comes up in me every now and then, but now it does not influence me as it did before. I do not know if a tidal wave of self-condemnation will rise in my mind on another occassion, but I also do not fear it.

The second cause of my suffering was my expectation. A great teacher of meditation once said that he has observed something very interesting in almost every practicioner of meditation. The first time a newcomer meditates, he has a wonderful experience, the second time he meditates, he has wonderful expectations. The point is that meditation is great the first time because there is no expectation, and the second time it is not because of expectation.

Even though I knew all of this, it still happened to me. Last year I had a wonderful experience and I expected it to be like that again this year. It was in fact worse, I was expecting it to be better! And in this way I created an experience of frustration for myself. I was not getting what I expected (and desired), so I got frustrated.

The most interesting part is that I was realising that expectation is causing problems for me, so I tried to let go of my expectation with the expectation that my meditation will improve! It shouldn’t be hard to imagine how my attempts only blew up in my face because of this.

As with the self-condemnation, I began to understand the uselessness of my expectations better by experiencing the fruits of my expectations intensely. And again, Wolfgang was there to help and remind me of the suffering I was creating for myself.

What’s more, I misunderstood my suffering as me having some sort of defect (more self-condemnation), because I thought that meditation should make me feel wonderful (expectation). A few days before my practice came to an end, I was free of this vicious circle because I realised that everything I was going through is simply a part of my development and learning process. The realisation came from that wonderful Rumi quote that you can find at the beginning of this post, I’d like to invite you to reread it. When I experienced freedom from this vicious circle, I understood the importance of mental freedom, the subject of my previous post.

With this I’d like to end the sharing of the lessons learned from silence this year. Do let me know if it the posts on my silence practice are helpful to you in any way!

上帝將你由一種感受帶往另一種感受,透過彼此相對的感受,祂教導你,使你擁有雙翅飛翔
~ 魯米

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3 – 本文

在去年守靜練習後,我有一種前所未有的感受。我的靜坐既深沈又強烈,我的心靈平靜,能量高漲,而且充滿對他人的愛。當時對於我的守靜練習,我只想得出正面評價。因此,當我告訴別人,今年的守靜練習中,幾乎整整三個星期的時間,我飽受心靈折磨,他們總感到驚訝。我想和大家分享我從這些掙扎中所學到的,而且我希望這對你的靜坐練習有所幫助。

我的痛苦,最主要來自於自責與期待。讓我先解釋自責是如何影響我。從我開始練習瑜珈起,我觀察到一件有趣的事就是,在我心中有一個很強烈的想法,認為我應該要改進自己,變得完美,才能體驗「三摩地」、「開悟」或者一些非常高深的事情。我不知道這些想法是否在我開始靈修前就已經存在了,或者是因為瑜珈練習才使得這些想法浮現,但這其實並不重要。

重要的是,這個必須改進自己的想法,是建立在另一個想法之下-「我不夠好」。這是我人生所經歷最危險的事情之一。我不再接受自己。而不接受自己,根本而言是非常不「瑜珈」的:瑜珈的第一個練習,即是非暴力(Ahimsa)的練習。練習非暴力,即意謂著練習愛。愛意謂著接受一切,什麼也不拒絕,也就是接受自己和他人。

為什麼瑜珈練習由接受一切,什麼也不拒絕開始?一個原因是因為,以「我不夠好」想法為基礎的靜坐,會漸漸轉化為試圖成為什麼人、試圖達到什麼成果、試圖做些什麼事的瘋狂想法。但是,只有當你漸漸停下所有刻意的付出,而平靜、放鬆、專注、平和且喜悅的覺知浮現時,靜坐才會出現。當你帶著「我不夠好」的想法靜坐時,你只會變得憂鬱且沮喪。

這份憂鬱和沮喪正是我今年所經歷的、非常強烈的感受。雖然在那之前,我已經放下許多的自責,但那些仍存留在我心中的自責感,依然強烈地浮現。

我之所能夠從自責中學習,有兩個原因。其一,由於經歷過試著達成某件事的瘋狂狀態,我開始了解這有多麼沒有意義。另一個原因是,無論何時,只要我需要, Wolfgang(沃夫岡)總會提醒我,要我停止自責。

現在,我偶爾還是會出現自責的情緒,但它不再像過去一般影響我了。我不知道自責的巨浪是否會在某個時刻再度襲捲我,但我並不害怕。

我之所以掙扎痛苦的第二個原因,來自我的期待。有一個偉大的靜坐導師曾說,他從每個練習靜坐的人身上觀察到一件事:當一個新手第一次嘗試靜坐時,他經歷過美好旳體驗,而第二次的靜坐,他則抱著美好的期待。重點在於,第一次靜坐之所以美好,是因為沒有期待,而第二次之所以不再美好,是因為有所期待。

雖然這些我都知道,但我還是經歷同樣的問題。去年我有美好的經驗,於是我期待今年也會如此。其實今年的經歷是很糟糕的,我卻還期待會有更美好的體驗!因為沒有獲得我所期待(渴望)的,我因而感到受挫。

最有趣的事情是,由於意識到我的期待為我帶來問題,我試圖放下期待,盼望著靜坐會因此好轉。不難想像,正因為這樣的期望,我的嘗試完完全全地失敗了。

透過體會期待所帶來的後果,我開始理解到,期待和自責一樣都是沒有用的。再一次地,Wolfgang(沃夫岡)向我伸出手,他提醒我,這些痛苦都是我自找的。

更重要的是,我將自己的痛苦誤解為一種個人缺陷(更多的自責),是因為我以為靜坐應當使我變感到美好(期待)。就在今年守靜練習結束前幾天,我意識到,我所經歷的一切都只是成長和學習過程的一部分。這份體會來自於在文章一開始的魯米名言。我希望大家可以回頭再讀一次開頭的引言。當我從自責與期待的惡性循環中體會自由時,我了解到心靈自由的重要性,而心靈的自由,正是我上一篇文章的主題。

有關今年守靜的經驗分享在此結束。如果這些分享對你有任何的幫助,請留言告訴我吧!

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Sing like the birds sing. 如鳥兒般歌唱

I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.
~ Rumi

Part 1
Part 2 – This article
Part 3

Dear friends,

Now I have the time to complete the sharing of the lessons learned during my silence practice this year. What I want to share on the blog here is a bit too much to share in one post, so there will be one follow-up post to this one.

The most important thing that I learned in my practice this year, is the importance of remaining mentally free. When I use the term ‘mentally free’, I do not mean something over-your-head. I mean being free from ideas of how life should be and accepting life as it presents itself to you, by remaining free from judgements and expectations. Allow me to illustrate this concept in this post, and explain how I learned about it in the next post.

I have observed that many yoga teachers and students have a very strong idea that yoga, and especially meditation, should be practiced seated on the floor in a cross-legged posture. Some will even go so far as to say that using a chair for meditation is not yoga and that it is wrong! This leads to two kinds of unnecessary suffering:

  1. Physical suffering. In our current times, we are not used to sitting on the ground and we also do not have a lot of physical exercise. The body is then not prepared to sit on the floor, and especially not for a prolonged period of time. When an unprepared body is suddenly made to assume a cross-legged posture, the body will hurt like crazy! Moreover, meditation will simply not happen when the body is suffering without reason.
  2. Mental suffering: First of all, a student will practice a cross-legged posture under the duress of his or his teacher’s idea of what yoga is. Practicing under duress disturbs meditation in a many ways, some of which are hard to notice. Secondly, since the student is not able to practice according to that idea in a comfortable way, he will slowly start to think he is a bad student. I will explain the problems of self-condemnation from my personal experience in the next post.

Being mentally free in the example I just gave means letting go of the idea that meditation should be practiced seated on the floor. Learning to sit on the ground is not essential for meditation. I do not mean to say that meditation on the floor does not have certain benefits, but the choice to learn to sit on the ground should be made

  • freely, willfully and joyfully;
  • free from self-judgements and expectations;
  • when the circumstances allow for it.

My experience is that this kind of mental freedom makes the experience of life wonderful. It does require the courage to let go of all external support, becoming self-reliant and claiming responsibility for how you feel and this is not always easy.

我想如鳥兒般歌唱,不論是誰聽見我的歌聲或他們如何作想,我皆無所憂。
~ 魯米

Part 1
Part 2 – 本文
Part 3

親愛的朋友:

現在我終於可以完成今年守靜練習的經驗分享。因為有太多話想說,所以我將這些想法分篇敍述。

我在今年的練習中學到最重要的事,是保持心靈自由的重要性。我所謂的心靈自由,並非指一些不切實際的念頭。我所指的是放下人生應該如何如何的想法,接受生命在你眼前呈現的面貌,免於評論和期待。在這篇文章裡,我會就此說明,接著在下篇文章裡解釋我如何學習到這點。

我發現很多瑜珈老師和學生都有個很強烈的想法:他們認為瑜珈,尤其是靜坐,應當是盤腿坐在地上練習。有些人甚至會說,椅子上的練習並非瑜珈、是錯誤的。這導致兩種不必要的痛苦:

  1. 身體折磨:在我們的時代裡,我們並不習慣於坐在地上,也沒有太多的運動。我們的身體於是尚未準備好坐在地板上,尤其無法坐上一段較長的時間。當一個沒有準備好的身體突然間被迫成盤腿坐姿時,我們的身體會痛疼得不得了!再者,當身體這樣無來由地痛苦時,我們是無法進入靜坐狀態的。
  2. 心理折磨:首先,在老師或本身對於瑜珈的概念的壓力之下,一個學生會以盤坐的姿勢練習。然而,在受迫的狀況下練習,在很多方面而言,都會干擾靜坐,有些甚至難以察覺。第二,因為學生無法根據自己對瑜珈的想法而舒服地練習,他會漸漸地認為自己是個壞學生。在下一篇文章中,我會從自己的經驗裡,分享有關自責的問題。

在我所提出的例子中,心靈自由意謂著「放下靜坐應當是坐在地上練習」的想法。學習坐在地板上,對靜坐而言並非必需。我並不是說,坐在地板上靜坐不具特殊益處,但是我們應當可以選擇是否要學習坐在地板上靜坐。我們做出這個選擇時,是:

  • 抱持自由、自願、喜樂的態度;
  • 不帶任何評斷和期待;
  • 在情況允許之下.

我自己的經驗是,這樣的心靈自由使得人生變得美妙。但它的確需要我們擁有放下外在支持的勇氣,變得獨立、為自己的感覺負起責任,而這並不總是容易。

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Alone, not lonely 獨處,但不寂寞

Part 1 – This article
Part 2
Part 3

So yesterday I finished a three weeks practice of silence in North Germany and I was in essence all alone. When I did the same thing last year, the most common question asked was “Didn’t you miss your girlfriend, family members, friends, etc.?” The simple answer is “No”, but it is interesting to know why.

This year in my practice, I twice found myself crying out of gratitude for the presence of all the beautiful people in my life. I do not know if you have ever experienced this, but I can tell you it is wonderful.

The question is whether or not this sort of experience can happen only when you are in silence. I am sure that the answer is no, but silence in the way that I practiced definitely stimulates such an experience.

In my native language (Dutch) there is a saying which translated into English goes “Whatever the heart is full of, the mouth spills”. This is not true. In actuality, whatever the head is full of, the mouth spills; and whatever the heart is full of, the eyes spill.

In our daily life, our minds are filled with many many impressions. They come from our experiences at work, world news, entertainment, etc. There is nothing wrong with these impressions, but they do fill your head and make your mouth spill them. Then meaningful conversations with your loved ones remain few and the true blessing of your relationship is hard to feel.

I remember that a few weeks before I entered into silence I was at a restaurant with two friends. I was in more of listening mood on that day and I was surprised by and interested in what I heard. In one hour of talking, nothing was said! When I asked them then and there if they remembered what they had talked about, they said no! I wonder if they even remember that we went to dinner…

In a prolonged period of silence, the mind can process the daily impressions because you don’t give it any new ones. Then it becomes easy to come in touch with your feelings and you may find yourself crying out of gratitude. And then you do not miss those you love.

If I could make a suggestion to you, it would be to contemplate on the beautiful people in your life and to allow yourself to feel what you feel for them. You will be pleasantly surprised, I promise.

There is much more to say about my silence practice, but since I don’t want to bore you, I will write about it in the next post.

Part 1 – 本文
Part 2
Part 3

昨天我結束在德國北部、為期三週的守靜練習。這段期間裡,我基本上是完全獨自一人。去年我做完同樣的守靜練習之後,人們最常問我的問題包括:「你不想念你的女朋友、家人、朋友嗎?」我的回答很簡單:「不會」,但是箇中原由是很有意思的。

今年的守靜期間,我有兩度因為我生命中那些美妙的人們的存在,而感激流淚。我不知道你是否曾有相似的經歷,我只能說,那是個再美妙不過的體驗。

問題在於,這樣的經驗是否只有在守靜時才會發生。我相信答案是否定的,但是我的守靜練習確實激發了這樣的經驗。

在我的母語(荷語)裡,有一句俗語若翻譯為中文是:「那些充滿心中的,將從口中溢出。」但那並非真的。事實上,那些充滿腦中的,將從口中溢出,而那些充滿心中的,將從眼中流出。

在日常生活中,我們的心靈總是充滿許多印記,它們來自於工作經驗、世界新聞動態、日常娛樂等。這些印記本身沒有錯,但它們充滿你的腦中,而從你的口中流出。人們幾乎不曾和所愛的人進行一場有意義的對話,依然難以感受一段情感關係中最真切的祝福。

在我開始守靜前幾個星期,我和兩個朋友在餐廳裡聚會。那天我很有傾聽他人的興緻,而我所聽到的對話,讓我感到既驚訝又有趣。在整整一個小時的談話中,他們卻沒有真正說些什麼!當我問這兩個朋友是否記得自己說了什麼時,他們的回答都是「不記得!」我甚至不確定他們是否記得我們去了那家餐廳….

在一段長期的靜默中,心靈能夠處理這些日常生活累積而來的印記,因為此時你不再添加新的印記。你變得較能夠去體會自己的感受,而你可能發現自己正因感激而流淚。那時候,你並不想念那些你愛的人。

如果我可以給大家一些建議,我會建議你,去想想那些你生命中美妙的人們,容許自己深刻體會對他們的情感。我保證,你將經歷一場妙美妙驚奇的體驗。.

關於守靜,我還有很多心得想和大家分享,但我不希望大家感到無聊,所以就留待下次再談吧!

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