Last week Devi and I spent a period apart and in seclusion, the first time in several years that I had had a chance to be totally alone with God as my sole focus. It was wonderful!
My heart began to soar as even a few days of seclusion helped me realign my habits with my lifelong priorities. The world has its own pulls and magnetism. Even sincere devotees find a gradual dilution of their longing for spiritual liberation. Seclusion helps us reorient toward the subtler “gravitational” pull of God’s love for us.
Paramhansa Yogananda said, “Always remember that seclusion is the price of greatness. In this tremendously busy life, unless you are by yourself, you can never succeed. Never, never, never. Walk in silence; go quietly; develop spiritually. We should not allow noise and sensory activities to ruin the ladder of our attention, because we are listening for the footsteps of God to come into our Temple.”
I often chanted silently during the week, which helped to open the heart. One chant came spontaneously into my mind, and I later remembered that Swami Kriyananda writes about it in The New Path:
“During the Christmas meditation that year Master led us in singing his chant, ‘Do not dry the ocean of my love, with the fires of my desires, with the fires of my restlessness.’ Over and over we sang it. ‘Christ is here,’ he told us. ‘Sing it to him.’ Later he added, ‘Because you have sung this chant here today, whenever in future you feel delusion pressing in upon you, sing it again, thinking of this occasion, and Christ and Guru will come down themselves to save you. Mark my words, for they are true.’” These words apply equally to us if we sing with devotion. God and Gurus are beyond time and space, and are eagerly awaiting those moments when we call to them with deep sincerity.
There are three essential elements to seclusion. The first is withdrawal from outward activities. It is important to disengage from electronic devices with their incessant demands and lures. The second is to focus on God alone. During the week, when I wasn’t meditating I read only from the books of Master and Swami Kriyananda. Finally, there is feeling God’s presence as a constant. When our feelings, which are usually disturbed by daily events and demands, are allowed to calm themselves, we are much more able to hear God’s whispers, and to feel Him close.
Swami Kriyananda said that one of the most blissful times in his life was four weeks he spent in seclusion in a holy cave, Vashishtha Guha, located on the banks of the Ganges above Rishikesh, India. (Although it was his karma to do a large and busy public work, he told those close to him that his natural inclination was to be a hermit.) He added, with a chuckle, that it was later discovered that a cobra had been living with him in that cave throughout his seclusion. Maybe it was Lord Shiva watching over him and adding his blessings to Swamiji’s efforts!
Admittedly it is not easy for most people to find time for seclusion in their busy lives, although we should all make the effort. An interesting insight came to me this morning: Every meditation is a miniseclusion. The same three elements are needed: withdrawal, focus, and feeling God’s presence. Without them meditation will be scattered and ineffective. These three seem to be like fundamental spiritual forces of nature, required in any successful spiritual search.
So, my friends, try to be alone with God and with your own higher Self. Take a seclusion whether it be for a month, a week, or an hour. You will find that it resets your priorities, opens your heart, and refreshes your soul.
From the Inner Silence,
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