Spent the weekend attending a silent, food and drink abstinence retreat. Noise surrounds us wherever we go and is now our constant companion. Food and drink are within our easy reach, sometimes we are not even conscious that we reaching for them. We even indulge in them when there is no real necessities. The retreat came somewhat as a wake-up call, to remind me that I have been guilty of these excesses and more importantly that something can be done about them.
Silence was observed the whole two days. ‘Silence is said to be golden’, this I suspect must had come from someone who was a recluse. Try restraining yourself from speaking when you were surrounded by many others, it was a real challenge. On the morning of the first day, many unconsciously broke the silence as they naturally wished each other good morning.
The first objective of the retreat was achieved without the instructor having to point it out to us. The message that we are unmindful of our actions was amply demonstrated through our own actions.
We were also to abstain from taking food and drinks for the duration of the retreat. No one was seen to have broken the rule but we didn’t know what they did in the privacy of their own rooms. The objective of this abstinence was spelt out clearly to us, it wasn’t so much to detox our systems but to teach us mindfulness – mindfulness of our good fortunes and of the sufferings of others.
It is hope with having a clear understanding of unmindfulness/mindfulness of our own unmindful actions, our sense of gratefulness for the all the good things we have received will surface which hopefully will lead to the generation of the attitude of spontaneous sharing, genuine care, true concern for others and undisguised love for all others. Or rather, it is hope, at least the seed of this had been planted inside us who were there at the retreat.
May we develop mindfulness for the sake of all beings.