So here we are, forming a circle, holding hands: me and people I have never seen before. It is unlikely we will ever meet again in this particular constellation, ranging from the individualist to the internet billionaire. I have spent about a week with these forty others in an Indian ashram. Over the past few days, and indescribable energy has taken hold among the participants. We have laughed and danced together, meditated, talked, cried or simply enjoyed the silence. Now, on the last day, we will embark on a “Walk of Silence,” along a beautiful, natural, powerful path, paved with holy symbols. We have already walked this path once, as part of the welcoming ceremony on the first day of the Gandhi 3.0 retreat.
I was more hesitant then, observing the actions of others in this unusual setting. Now, five days later, we are about to close the retreat as we started it: with a ritual of silence.
We laughed together, we danced together, we meditated together, discussed with each other, cried together, and kept silent together.
The gentleness, connections, helpfulness and direct openness of all participants, the unconditional love I have felt from strangers, the mindful interactions, the respect and the experience of pure consciousness have touched me deeply during these days. My heart is wide open; I am ready for the “Walk of Silence.” This time around, we are going to follow the metaphorical footsteps of American-Chinese Buddhist monk Reverend Heng Sure, who walked across California for two years and nine months. Three steps followed by a deep bow, knees on the ground, palms turned up to the sky.
Access to All I Have in Me. My first steps are once again awkward. I am self-conscious, trying to avoid stepping on those stones along the way that carry writing and sacred impulses. I turn the messages I read over in my mind, feel them enhance my sense of consciousness. Who was I? Who am I? Who do I want to be? What can I do to be who I want to be? A wave of gratitude washes over me. I am so thankful to understand that my path from here on out will be very different from the route that lead me here. I want to access all there is in me. I want to be, and not just do. I want to drop the patterns of escape, deflection and procrastination that prevent me from engaging with my core. To feel contentment, gratitude, humbleness. To be conscious. I want so much. And then emotion takes over; I well up, and tears start streaming down my cheeks. The silence and mantra-like movements bring me to an inner vantage point from which I see how many opportunities I missed in life to be who I really am, who I really want to be. The missed opportunities make me unspeakably sad. It hurts, makes me humble, forces me to my knees in front of something bigger. Let us call it god, the world… and myself. The pain goes deep.