*Brian Wilcox. "a hiding place". Flickr.
To live in this floating world is to wander from place to place pursuing mere titles. Each of us is born naked. But then we are given a name and registered. We’re covered with clothes, a nipple is stuffed into our mouth, and so on. When we grow up people say, “This person is great, strong, clever, rich.” We find consolation in words, when in fact everyone is simply naked.
*Kosho Uchiyama Roshi. Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo.
how can we rightly be-with others
if we are always with others
how can we know who we are
if we are always seeing ourselves
only as mirrored from others
how can we live deeply
if we are always moving along the surfaces
what is it that we fear so much
about silence, about being alone
does it remind us of death
in fact, to move apart and become quiet
this is a death
a death of avoidance
avoidance of what ~ Life! ~
* * *
"Hiding," spiritually, is not an escape as much as an inscape, a retreat that, at the same time, allows our being drawn closer to Grace. And, in this Grace, I am unclothed of all I am said to be or tell myself I am. I am nobody, not even nobody. What wonderful Grace!
* * *
As we engage the pilgrimage seriously, we may begin more drawn to apartness from others, for we have been over-engaged in the outer affairs of life and are ardent to enjoy communion in inward quiet. The power of this pull can lead us to an accent on being in quiet places, where we feel the need to commune, as the Hindus say, "Alone with the alone."
This focus on inwardness can be a natural movement, so one in a time of escape is not necessarily in an unhealthy avoidance. Many may feel this way toward such a one, while they miss that one can as easily be in unhealthy avoidance by being overly engaged with the outer life. One, in cultures over-engaged with the outer life and not appreciating the value of the inner life, will likely hold in suspicion or misunderstanding anyone who values hiding away to commune with Life. I discovered this, for example, when serving as a professional minister in churches; my joy in the contemplative life seemed to be misunderstood by most and a cause of fear from others. I was even accused, in teaching contemplative spirituality, of possibly teaching from the devil. This attitude seems widespread among many in conservative Protestant religion; one wonders what could be so harmful, in their estimation, of one simply wishing to be in quiet fellowship with Life. Why the outrage against God-loving beings engaging contemplation, when such outrage is not leveled against wordy, pedantic religionists and noisy, bellowing worship gatherings? Yet, this outrage, this attribution of holy quiet as evil induced, reminds us something about this silent communion must be deeply threatening to many in religion, as it is equally to those outside religion.