30 Day Process – Day 30

Yes, it is true, if you stop looking at the news, then the news stops being on your mind. For me, that means that now my mind is free for other thoughts. There will always be thought. Which thoughts do I want to think? I assess myself. 30 days is enough to detox. It is not enough to build something new. The dilemma is to keep building the new way without going back to the old way. I am on a cusp. I am in a clear and open space. What thoughts would come to me apart from societal conditioning? Is it possible to obtain thoughts that are outside of mass consciousness? Of course. So, go get them.

For the 30 day process, there were four practices, apart from news fasting. Two of them, focus wheel and segment intending, I didn’t use that much. I realize now why not. I viewed segment intending as a tool for dealing with difficult people and situations. I don’t have situations with difficult people. My life is somewhat only one long segment. I viewed focus wheel as a tool for working on a known objective. I don’t really have a material world goal. I have created exactly what I wanted. So I have only half heartedly used these tools. My desire is for God, so how do I use these tools?

As I am clear of news debris in my thoughts, it is time to go deeper. Keep exploring the depths of my soul, the divine presence and consciousness. Can I think, or receive, a thought which is not directly someone else’s? My studies of philosophy indicate to me that the subject is a shambles. Philosophy has been dominated by European white men, mostly competing with each other over trivialities. My new thought should be an expansion or evolution.

I went to the monastery to be a contemplative. It seemed like the main desire I obtained from living in a monastery for nearly 4 years was the desire to live an eremitic life. I had to achieve a point in life where I didn’t have to work. And now it is a thing of courage. Is being a hermit a genuinely worthwhile activity? I am currently listening to a philosophical lecture on the meaning of life from an MIT professor. My ideas clearly don’t fit his definition of worthwhile. Do I dare try it? Would I go crazy? Ha! I haven’t been any crazier than the time I spent in a monastery. That was the worst emotional experience ever.

What is the meaning of life when bad thing don’t happen? That is my story. Bad things don’t have to happen for one to find meaning in their life. I find meaning in epiphanies, which aren’t necessarily sourced from externals. In the hermitage, I can realize that I am beloved of God. I can also realize that so is everyone else, and grant them that reality. Non-trivial, don’t you think?

My life continues to include physical fitness. In fact, I am incredibly grateful to love 10 mile runs, being in my sixties. Or the small weight workouts I use to break up my academic days. You don’t know how grateful I am to have arrived at this point in my life without the 30 or more pounds that my peers are carrying around.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Self Isolation Perspective

I have been in isolation since I left my job 14 days ago (not including today). Yesterday, my employer extended the pay period to May 3. So I still have 31 precious days. My isolation is in a rhythm. I speak occasionally to store clerks and I nod hello to people on the trail. An occasional text. Conversations are very few, maybe 3 in the past 14 days. Despite these pandemic times, I enter the silence of isolation with a quiet mind and the ability to maintain inner peace. This quiet mind stands out as a difference from other times when I have been unemployed. The occasional intrusion of bad news or frightening headlines gets fed into the stream of well being, which flows quietly through me, and I watch it float away.

I\’ve wanted to be a hermit for a long time, since I learned about solitaries in the monastery. Right now is the first time in 61 years that I have achieved such emptiness as I have now. I don\’t need to worry about getting a job. I\’m not going to class. There are no AA meetings. An empty life. I am coming to see how I am in my natural state, outside of societal programming or interaction.

I like sleeping, morning coffee, the view from my kitchen table, the apple blossoms popping out, the forests in which I walk or jog , lifting weights, eating well and little, spiritual reading with meditation and writing.

I learned a new word today: elision. Elision is a deletion, like elision of my social life. Does this leave me with only my soul for company? Yes, I think. My ego doesn\’t really have any plans or things to compete for or people to push against. And I feel at peace with that, surprisingly enough. My ego has little to say.

I\’ve wondered if I should impose some more aggressive schedule on myself. So far, I\’ve let the natural rhythms exist.My ego wants a schedule to show that I\’m not wasting my life by merely existing. Using my isolation to merely exist, to commune only with my soul, cannot be shown to be productive.

I\’ve always wanted to know the value of \”just being,\” mere existence. What does it mean to be human if you are not engaged but isolated? Does my life only mean something if I achieved worldly notoriety?

I am uplifted and inspired by this intense focus this morning on communion with my soul. I sometimes call my soul the Christ within, even though the word Christ comes with a lot of religious baggage. The word Christ within came to me from contemplatives of times past. I allow the Christ within to be free of religion and just represent the inner truth of my human soul. I feel thrilled by this open door to my inner being.

Monday Go Again

From Sunday 9/16:

To allow myself to be afloat in a sea of nothingness; no moorings to anything of the ego. In the emptiness of this morning, I \”almost\” felt my true self. that is, I felt a moment of that something which is not my ego; something which had no agenda.

And now it is Monday:

See, weekends are hermit weekends. Yesterday, I did not even go outside. This time of introspection coupled with Course in Miracles study helped me to see how much I fight every thing and every one; at least in my mind. In person, I\’m seen as helpful friendly and competent. Inside my head, it is fight fight fight. Fight food, fight exercise, fight my body, fight society, etc.

But, when I remember to stop and let it go, things are ok.

Hermitage Weekend

This weekend in Seabrook, a replica of the NASA shuttle is being transported to NASA for display. Big deal. When I left work on Friday, my colleague mentioned it. I said my plan was to stay out of the way.

To find quiet and soul, you have to be quiet and with your soul. Make space for God as it were. To know it, you have to do it; be alone as it were.

This idea struck me as I made my afternoon tea. I have a sore throat. My left heel is not in the best of shape. The idea of being alone came to me as I wondered what I would do this weekend. Can I walk on the treadmill all night? No not really because sleep is important to me.

I have a Colorado running vacation in 30 days; but I don\’t have any race I am training for exactly. I want to endure, but I fail mentally, make excuses and quit. Sometimes it is blisters. But more often, I just can\’t come up with a reason to do the unreasonable on my own. Except some/most non-marathoners I know would say I am unreasonable to work out 18 hours a week. I like it; but more important, it is who I am.

This evening, I did 20 min of funny walking and free weights, 10 min of step/tramp and a 120 min walk jog. At 90 min, I did have to struggle with keeping going. I was rationalizing.

I\’m at 967795 steps in B-Well. I could get to 1,000,000.

A nights sleep. Up at 6:30 and fussing around with insoles.


Now it is Saturday afternoon. this morning, I did a 3 hour sweat fest of 13 miles. I ran past the place shown below, only this time, the park was a parking lot for the nearby swim meet. No matter. I parked at the library. I wore my Nathan hydro-pak. It holds 70 oz. I didn\’t use it all, but I drank every 10 to 15 min.

In a tidal pool, I saw a large flock of white sea birds of two races. You usually only see one or two birds at one time. To see more than 20 in one small pool at one time was unusual. Also, the fishing must have been good today. A boy I saw near the pier told me he had caught a fish. I was glad to share his joy.

This evening, at 5 pm, I\’ll tune the radio to A Prairie Home Companion and work out for 2 hours.

Silence Again

Interesting article with links:

Some quotes from:


A monk living with another monk is not like a monk living as a solitary. When a monk is alone, he has need of great vigilance and of an unwandering mind. The former is often helped by his brother; but an angel assists the latter. ~ St. John Climacus,

And here are the signs of those who are practicing stillness in the wrong way: dearth of (spiritual) wealth, increase of anger, a hoard of resentment, diminution of love, growth of vanity; and I will be silent about all the rest which follow. ~ St. John Climacus,

He who is sick in soul from some passion and attempts stillness is like a man who has jumped from a ship into the sea and thinks that he will reach the shore safely on a plank. ~ St. John Climacus,

He who wishes to dwell in the solitude of the desert is delivered from three conflicts: hearing, speech, and sight.
~ Anthony

He who dwells with brethren must not be square but round, so as to turn himself towards all. ~Poemen

The Lord knows that I love you all, but I cannot speak with God and people at the same time.
~ St. Arsanius the Great

There are many in the mountains who behave as if they were in towns, and they are wasting their time, it is better to have many people around you and to live the solitary life in your will than to be alone and always longing to be with a crowd. ~ Amma Matrona

Thus, when a young brother asked him to recommend whether to live as a solitary or to stay in the monastery, Abba Joseph of Panephysis replied that whichever state brought him peace was to be preferred, and that if he could not decide even then, it should be based on whichever enabled him to make spiritual progress.It is not through virtue that I live in solitude, but through weakness; those who live in the midst of others are the strong ones. ~ Poemen

If you have not first of all lived rightly with others, you will not be able to live rightly in solitude. ~ Abba Lucius
What others think of your life is not as important as what you know about your life in Christ. What you think about your life is not as important as what God knows about your life in Christ. ~ Abiah+
Restrain your desire to mingle with crowds. Crowds of people distract your spirit and disturb your inner peace.
~ Abba Evagrius

Detach yoursel from the enjoyment of crowds or your enemy will challenge your spirit and disturb your peace.
~ Abba Doulas

… the basic motive for choosing the solitary life in a hermitage consists in an existential longing to meet and talk to God. The hermit chooses silence in order to enter fully into a dialogue; (she) chooses solitude in order to meet closely a personal presence. The way of the desert is thus not a stray and arid path, it does not lead to the negation of all the values of the world and of other people. Just the opposite: it is the way of mutual presence, dialogue, and friendship that shines where two freedoms and two hearts, divine and human, meet.\” C. Wencel

Vacation Day Hermit Day

In solitude, I look for a thought. I seek a thought beyond what I read in someone’s book.

I have not got to the bottom of solitude. I don’t know the answer. I keep trying to write out the answer because my ego wants something to grasp. Yet, solitude is nothing. In solitude, I am nothing. At issue is nothingness. Can God be found in the bleak blank bare? While I am nothing and have nothing, I still hope for God.

This morning in ACIM text, I read something impossibly good; so good my mind snapped up a wall. I had to tell Jesus I don’t believe this could apply to me.

“Where sin once was perceived will rise a world that will become an altar to the truth, and you will join the lights of Heaven there, and sing their song of gratitude and praise. And as they come to you to be complete, so will you go with them. For no one hears the song of Heaven and remains without a voice that adds its power to the song, and makes it sweeter still. And each one joins the singing at the altar that was raised within the tiny spot that sin proclaimed to be its own. And what was tiny then has soared into a magnitude of song in which the universe has joined with but a single voice” (26.IV.5).

I don’t believe I will ever learn enough about Christ vision and seeing Christ in my brother (forgiveness) from my Guide and Teacher, the Holy Spirit. ACIM assures me that God cannot fail and I need not worry about how much I don’t understand. My desire is enough to get me to follow diligently. Following diligently, I will arrive at heaven because God cannot fail.

Then I went to 6:30 am Mass. If no one had told me there is a God, what would I think? I think I would have found my intuitive COMPANION. I go to Mass to watch and listen. I think there must be some intuitive information available which is beyond Catholic belief and the historical evolution. If the Eucharist really is what they say it is, no one would need to go more than once; and no one could go without knowing what it was.

Then I went to Wally World while it was still somewhat uncrowded. Then I went for a 16 mile run. I completed the run at a speed of 9.75 minutes per mile. That is very good considering I weigh about 3 pounds more than I should and I was wearing lots of clothes. It looks like I could do well in the “Run for the Ranch” marathon on 12/27; but I don’t know if I have the energy to drive my butt down to southern Missouri.

Then I went on a shopping spree at Dick’s Sporting Goods. I am a sucker for “Livestrong” clothing.

Reflections – Fasting 122 Hours

There is a difference between a secular solitary and a monk eremitic. The secular solitary is alone just to be alone. The monk is alone to be alone with God. By secular, I do not mean atheist. By monk, I do mean spiritual; the monos who is one heart with God. The secular solitary may say prayers. The monk is the prayer.

I am a monk. The point of my life is God. I am not traditionally consecrated into a religious tradition. I am a monk in the world; self styled. I learned about being a monk from Benedictines. I learned about it from books. Most of my monastic practices are traditional: lectio divina (spiritual reading) and contemplative prayer. Anthony was an early Christian who famously started the tradition; leaving the city and going out in the desert to live with Christ and fight demons. But most Holy Rules for monks advocate the structure of a monastery. I am the variety who left the monastery and went to the Poustinia to live on my own. The lack of religious validation is a cross I seem to bear; a relic of my Benedictine teaching. I have no trappings, like religious garb, or title, or hairdo. I look very ordinary and do not generally speak publicly of who I really am.

You might say, “But you are an engineer.” I would say, “I don’t have a desert cave or a monastery, so I work for a living.” You might say, “You are a runner.” I would say, “I am running to God. I run in the Spirit.” Alone, I am not constantly busy, not even reading all the time. Often, I just sit and contemplate. I spend hours in lectio. I listen. I am silent. I am being still and waiting.

I live in a Poustinia. Poustinia is the Russian word for desert. It was traditional for Orthodox monks to go to a hermitage. A Poustinia in the West is a place for someone to go and seek God. It is a place of silence and solitude and prayer. Although looking like a house, inside it is the Mount of Carmel, the Mount of Tabor, the cave of Jesus tomb, the cave of Elijah, the Bodhi tree of Siddhartha, a Tibetan mountain peak, an ashram of one in an Indian forest. The Poustinia is the agony of the cross where Jesus cried, “My God my God, why have you forsaken me?” The Poustinia is the river of baptism and the mount of transfiguration where God cried out, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” The Poustinia is a prostration at the foot of the cross, and before the Glory of God. The Poustinia is the wild shouting, “Hosanna” and “Maranatha.” It is the place where I have chosen to go.

My Poustinia is also in my heart, my consciousness; my inner temple where God dwells eternally. I go to work and the store and the marathon and other places, but my life is always hidden in the inner temple, known only to Christ. The light of Christ shines out. If it was me that lived in the world, not Christ, there would be no light for others and I would be a dreadfully sickened person. This is not so.

In the Poustinia, there is the darkness of Mother Theresa, the great faith of pilgrims crowding Lourdes. There is Eucharist and Adoration and Reconciliation. There is no football or election campaign or financial crisis. The monk’s material needs are minimized, being filled by God. Music is a type of veil, hiding the soul from God; or a covering which prevents the mind from being totally exposed to the divine light. The news is a distraction, diverting thought from the divine Presence and from prayer. TV is programming; filling the mind with something other than Christ. The monk’s food will often stray into nothing but spiritual texts; eating the words and being satisfied with God. The Poustinia is not often ecstatic. Usually it is just a desert, just a silent place, just faith. With the darkness of God’s silence and the blinding light of faith, the monk waits and watches and listens and prays. This is the life of a monk in the world and what I have embraced as my vocation.

This leads into my response to your question, “Why am I telling you about being a monk?” There are cosmic and eschatological reasons for the eremitical life, the silent life. At a minimum, the conscious contact of one person with God is a gift for all; whether they know it or not. Christ is a cosmic consciousness remembered for all and given to all. It is because I feel the inner light of Christ beaming out to all creation. I wanted to offer Christ consciousness as a gift; and remind us of spiritual realities beyond normal day-to-day life.

One person alone praying seems so worthless. No evangelization is attempted. The works of charity do not take place in the physical world. Purpose is carried out metaphysically and spiritually; perhaps not seen but deeply known. No trace of the hermit’s healing hands are found, but surely they were there. No sound of the hermit’s prayer was heard, but surely a blessing was received.

In my silence and my fasting, I have found the well of praises for Christ my life. These praises gush forth uncontainable. My dam has broken. My reservoir empties. Peace be with you.