Seclusion and Pandemic

This is an attempt at a post, it needs actually writing...


Excerpts from Ananda article ([How Taking Seclusion May Help Us During Periods of Sheltering in Place]) on seclusion:

Yogananda highly recommended the practice of seclusion. He said, “Seclusion is the price of greatness.” Swami Kriyananda urged us to take a week of seclusion yearly and more if we could.

I have often thought of seclusion as a time to send our inner explorers into unknown spiritual territory so they can return to tell all our inner citizens of the wonders they have seen, the joys they have felt, and most importantly the transformations they have experienced. Then in our regular daily meditations, we can revisit those new realms and make them our own. Thus our yearly seclusions can bless us all the days of our lives.

Social isolation gives us similar opportunities. Yes, there is misunderstanding and disharmony these days. But beyond that, people are also discovering a greater sense of togetherness, of concern for and solidarity with others, and gratitude for the things in life that really matter .

Better To Light A Candle

But this responsibility for taking care with what advice you take has become a wariness against taking almost any advice. Virgil coined the phrase ‘beware of Greeks bearing gifts’ about the ‘Trojan Horse’ left at the gates of Troy. The Trojans thought the Greeks had left a parting gift because they had given up and sailed home. They took it within their walls not knowing it was filled with armed soldiers who would destroy their city. Applying this means that you, the reader are automatically suspicious of any advice given and the writer has the responsibility to show he is giving good advice.

What has this got to do with Untemplater? We are here because we believe in ‘[rebellion against the status quo]‘ no matter how old we are or what our status is in life. This means working where we want, living how we want and being who we want. But does this rebellion mean rejection of all that has gone before, assuming that it is generally bad advice? Does this mean that whatever we don’t agree with is the status quo? Does this mean we start again and make the same old mistakes?

In ‘[When You Should Take Advice?]‘ we read,

The hard thing about getting advice is, as humans, we have a tendency to ignore and discredit advice we don’t like, while heavily weighing advice we do like. The dangers of this approach are that we still don’t know what to do and end up just doing what we want.

Hmmm this would suggest a ‘Greeks Bearing Gifts’ approach. But, as it goes on to say, this “may not always be the best decision”. So maybe, as one commenter says,

Best is to just listen to your elders. When you are in your 20′s, you think you know everything, but it’s hardly the case. It’s hard to see the bigger picture.

Harsh and personal, but maybe there is a kernel of sense in there?

A commenter says,

More often than not, I see people giving out advice freely without having any bearing or knowledge of the situation whatsoever. It’s one thing if I as a web developer offer some advice to a problem you might be having with your own site. While I may not know the particular problem, there’s a good chance what I am saying is at the least relevant.

If you see what you read as a ‘Trojan Horse’ that will usually be what it is. Why all this suspicion? When did rebellion become fear of being misled?

Yes, there is a difference between expressing opinion and giving advice. When we write we need to openly express our opinions but take care about giving advice. But when we read do we have be so critical of what people are writing, can we not just trust our responsibility for ourselves. If we could trust everyone who writes on the internet there would be no issue, but this is clearly not possible. So do we just mis-trust people and “end up just doing what we want”?

Is there another way? Could we not start with an open view and receive all advice gratefully? We all have our agendas, all of us, could we not accept what they are and look behind them? We are free to comment on what people say and express our own opinions. Would we not be better off just doing that instead of assuming the worst in people?

Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

This came from a speech at the inauguration of Amnesty International, since when the candle has been used as Amnesty’s symbol of truth. Instead of pushing things away and complaining could we not expose the truth as we see it? This is to be open and honest not closed and fearful.

Should this not be our approach here at Untemplater? Look at what people say, how people think, what advice they give. Think about it, talk about it and expose what is there. Be forthright and honest, but don’t complain and criticize.

How can we apply this? Here are some of my thoughts, my opinions, what do you think?

– Read with an open mind.
– If we disagree explain why.
– Don’t seek to change people but seek to understand them.
– Be open and free in our views.
– Don’t insist people think like us.

Nick Cave, the musician, said,

An artist’s duty is … to stay open-minded and in a state where he can receive information and inspiration. You always have to be ready for that little artistic Epiphany.