The following is an edited excerpt from
the December 2, 2001 morning meeting with Gangaji,
at the West Coast Winter Retreat
I have often spoken about the value and privilege of retreat. There is the opportunity for deep investigation during retreat – investigation of what has been avoided on the positive and on the negative side. True inquiry occurs when one is willing to fully investigate and what is discovered in that investigation is the truth of oneself that is deeper and closer than either the positive or the negative. The capacity for investigation arises naturally in the willingness to rest. If the mind is wound around its normal activity, its aversions and graspings, there is no space for investigation. There is no space for inquiry.
This retreat follows the September 11th calamity and the penetration of the cocoon of separation that we, with our affluence and power, had wound around ourselves. As is natural with affluence and power, we like to be insulated from the horrors and discomfort of the world. But in the penetration of that cocoon, retreat has even greater meaning, especially this aspect of rest, of letting go. Not letting go to get something, not letting go to inquire or investigate. Just to be here. To be fed, to meet together, to be in one another’s company.
You may not even be aware of the wound-up-ness of body and mind. In a national tragedy, which reflects the world tragedy, which reflects the on-going tragic side of the human progression through history, there is agitation. I am not saying that agitation is wrong or misplaced. There is an appropriate time for agitation, but it is wearing on the psyche and on the body.
Give yourself this day, at least, to not get anything, so that the unwinding can begin. That requires a level of trust that is not a part of our conditioning as Westerners. We have trusted work, not rest. Work is beautiful, but without rest it is horrible. So I invite you to just be here, resting deeply, without knowing how to rest.