January 9, 2010 at 1:15 am #32925
I just returned from my Winter Retreat.
I sort of didn’t want to return quite when I did,
as new insights into the self seemed to be unfolding
daily, but all things must change.
I didn’t get to explore as many practices as
my original ambitious self intended, as many different
layers of internal surprises seemed to present
themselves causing numerous delays. However,
in reality, the point to the practices is not the
practices themselves but the growth and direction
that the practices take you to that are the important
thing, and on that end it was a success.
I faced many internal demons along the way. Certain
periods of time punctuated by vascillating between
intense fear and intense loneliness–the shadow
side of water and fire–that we tend to suppress
in our everyday life in order to function. It’s only
in the acknowledgment and acceptance of these things
that change can begin to unfold. Of course, there were
plenty of times of pure joy and happiness as well, but
those tend not to be nearly as enlightening.
I had an amazing instance during my retreat where I seemed
to have the ability to communicate with the ant world–very
fascinating! In the bathroom to my hermit cabin, there
seemed to be a small family of ants living there. Every time
I went into the bathroom, I’d see 2-3 ants crawling around
on the bathroom sink. I smiled, but more or less ignored
them. On day 9, I went into the bathroom and looked over
at the couple of ants, and saw one of them crawling over the
head of my toothbrush. I immediately grabbed my toothbrush,
shook it, throwing the ant off of my toothbrush and into
the wall of the sink’s basin. I then proceeded to talk
loudly (but not scream) at the ant, who now seemed to
be frozen in fear. To it, I said, “Hey! That’s my
property and territory! You stay off of it. I don’t
want to catch you crawling around on my property again.
You see this toothbrush, and this hygiene bag? These
are *mine*! You stay off of them, you hear me! You
are not allowed on there. You can crawl around the sink
all you like, but that stuff is off-limits! I’ll leave
you alone in general, but if I catch you crawling around
on my stuff here again, then I’ll *have* to kill you.
Do you understand? I won’t be killing you. *You’ll* be
killing you. You’ll be asking for suicide. You’ll
in effect be asking me to end your life, and I don’t
think that’s what you want. So you better stay away
from that stuff, OK? Make sure you tell all your friends!!,
because I mean business and you won’t get another warning!”
Throughout this entire diatribe, the ant just stood there
unmoving–as though it were in fear and/or taking in
all of my words. I then finished calmly with “Good. Now
we understand each other.” Then the ant preceded to
cautiously move toward the sink drain hole at the top
of the sink and crawled in to disappear.
The amusing thing is that even though I saw 2-3 ants
crawling around on that sink basin *every day* for
the first 9 days, after that incident, I didn’t
see A SINGLE ANT in that bathroom for the next 11, until
the day before I was leaving!!! It was as if he knew
exactly what I was saying!!
The day before I left, I was back in the bathroom and
was “sitting on the throne”. I saw my ant friends out
scurrying about, and couldn’t help but smile. Continuously
smiling, I looked down and saw an ant on the floor crawling
toward my right foot. As he started getting close, I
calmly and quietly spoke to the ant and said, “be careful
now; remember our discussion” At which point, he immediately
stopped in his tracks and turned the other way!! 🙂
It was very weird, because it was like those ants could
understand my comments perfectly without any kind of
English-Ant translation dictionary. Very strange. I know
it sounds nuts, but somehow they *understood*. Spooky.
StevenJanuary 9, 2010 at 1:50 pm #32926
I was interested in your conversation with the ants.
Did you feel as though it was possible because you
had been able to be so quiet in retreat (not too much
human interaction) to talk with them? Or maybe it was
your sincerity in believing they would understand?
I live in the tropics, ie mosquitoes
everywhere. I’ve tried a bit to communicate with
them but so far no luck. Your experience has given
me a bit of hope to keep trying.
Thanks for sharing,
AdelJanuary 9, 2010 at 7:00 pm #32928
Honestly, I think at the time it was more a way to amuse myself.
I thought to myself–for fun–I’m going to treat this ant
as though it were an intelligent creature that could
understand me, and I’m going to give it the same respect
that I would another person–almost as if I were scolding
a small child.
The spooky thing is that the ant reacted and responded.
Almost as if it decided that hey, if I were going to treat
it with respect, that it was going to honestly listen and
value what I had to say. It was strange because as I spoke,
it just looked at me taking in my words as though there
were no confusion in its mind about what I was saying.
This amused me more, but then when it slowly crept away
and I didn’t see any ants for the next 11 days–especially
since I saw them constantly for the first 9 . . . I had to
laugh to myself, and say “damn, that ant really *did*
understand me; it wasn’t just my imagination!”
Were it not for the strange subsequent response, I would
have just dismissed it as fanciful delusion, but too many
coincidences start to strain credibility of randomness . . .
especially after I already had had that strange episode
of communication with the local deer (see earlier retreat
Good luck with the mosquitoes, but I have a feeling that
since they already view you as a food source, you are
going to have some difficulty getting respect. 🙂 🙂
StevenJanuary 10, 2010 at 1:33 pm #32930
Reading your reply I just realized that my wanting to stop
mosquitoes from biting me goes against the natural cycle
of the world. It is not a respect issue but that all life
is equal in its right to live, eat, be eaten. If there is
any respect to be demanded it should be from me giving
thanks to the life of the tuna or tomato that I have taken.
Thank you for waking me up, I need to work on my heart more
make it bigger so that I can go beyond the little itchiness
and be more Wa with life.
Best wishes, many thanks
AdelJanuary 10, 2010 at 3:01 pm #32932
Each living creature here is trying to make its own way
and do the best it can, given the constructs of its existence.
You can’t get angry at the tiger that tried to maul you death,
because–well–that’s what tigers do. It’s not the tiger’s fault.
SJanuary 11, 2010 at 4:46 am #32934
I don’t think not wanting to get bitten is going against the natural cycle of the world. Nobody likes mosquitos and even horses swat away flies etc with their tails. Just get some natural vanilla essence insect repellent, or find a recipe on the net. Thats why the tai chi symbol doesn’t have a straight line seperating yin and yang. You can always find a way to wriggle yourself out of a problem 🙂January 11, 2010 at 2:16 pm #32936January 11, 2010 at 2:18 pm #32938
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