RetreatSep 08, 2016 04:19PM ● By Seijaku Roshi
We cannot be happy if we expect to live all the time at the highest peak of intensity. Happiness is not a matter of intensity, but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony. Music is pleasing not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it: without the alternation of sound and silence there would be no rhythm. ~ Thomas Merton
The dictionary defines retreat as, “An act of moving back or withdrawing.” Whenever a fighting force chooses to retreat it is usually a strategy for regrouping, rethinking and reinforcing in order to meet the challenge another day. Merton says to us, “We cannot be happy if we expect to live all the time at the highest peak of intensity,” which describes most people’s lives. Retreat is not a luxury just for those who afford the time or money, but a necessity, a requirement for real and sustainable change and happiness.
Balance is another necessity. I’m confident that if you ask most people why they feel so unbalanced, it’s because they are. We need to create the balance we are looking for, in the way we live our lives. “For everything there is a season, a time and a purpose…” Humans are the only species on the planet who live “out of harmony” with the rhythm and seasons which dictate sustainability and vitality. Creating balance is reentering into harmony or “atonement”, “at-one-ment” with life and its source. Without balance there can be no harmony; without harmony there can be no happiness or sustainability. Without “retreat”, that space we create to nurture balance and atonement, we step out of the rhythm of the planet which connects all life’s species to its source. When we do, we lose essential vitality for living.
Success in anything is not a function of willpower; if it were; all of our endeavors would be hopeless. “Success in anything is equal to our excuses.” We hold our excuses as facts of our lives. They never are. They are all learned experiences or habitual behaviors which began in childhood when we married our dreams to “I can’t” or “but”. All excuses are a function of our priorities. Like it or not, “what we can” or “cannot” do is all about our priorities. If you feel stuck you need only to examine your priorities. Early on we married the idea “I can’t,” because we actually “didn’t want to.” Because we didn’t want to and knew that deep inside, we created an “excuse” and sold it to ourselves and others as a fact. We’ve been buying and selling it ever since.
So, if you really want to experience vitality, happiness and a real appreciation for your life:
- “Retreat” regularly to a quiet space everyday and reinforce.
- “Create Order”, establish real “integrity” to living life fully and in harmony with its source.
- Get back to the real “Rhythm” of life… and start living again.
I love you.
Seijaku Roshi is the founder and spiritual director of The Zen Society, Pine Wind Zen Community, at 863 McKendimen Rd., Shamong, NJ. He is a Zen Buddhist Monk, parent, author, life coach and Abbot. Learn more by visiting at PineWind.org.