The first thought when I woke up on day two, was a realisation that I am attached to my identity. Just as with the previous day’s insight – everything is a distraction – this is not a new idea. As the sunrise shone through the open window, I lay in contemplation. It didn’t feel like a big deal. My mind started to wander away from the insight. There hadn’t been the revelatory feel I’d had the day before, so I began to question whether I am indeed attached to who I am.
The uncertainty stayed with me throughout the morning. Eventually, after some back and forth, I concluded that the attachment is certainly there, but the seeing means it is already falling away. Furthermore, The Invitation will ensure it happens. There is no need to think about it, and no need to do anything.
It should not be a surprise that I am attached, because I have worked hard over many years. Observation and (written) reflection have helped me to recognise and transcend many aspects of my conditioning, to limit the effect my mind has on me, and to create new habits. It has been a long road, but I’m pleased with the results. At the retreat things changed. I realised that the work I have done so far has been like a long-distance endurance race, and that now I can sprint across the finish line.
As I considered all of this, the image of a mandala came to mind. I thought of the tireless work of many monks over many days to create the most beautiful and intricate patterns from coloured grains of sand. The discipline itself is a form of mindfulness. Full concentration on the task at hand. No interference from the mind. Free from any other thoughts, they sit silently, painstakingly placing each coloured grain, knowing that as soon as they finish they will sweep it all away.
It is an exercise in impermanence and non-attachment. From the first time I heard about this practice, it has always impressed me. What must it feel like to work on something so detailed and elaborate, knowing it will be gone as soon as it is complete? Now here I was, contemplating my own mandala. The mandala of personhood. Years of painstaking work; meticulous attention to detail; seeking to place everything in perfect position to create a thing of beauty. Only for it to be swept aside, until nothing remains.
Some people spoke into the microphone about their fear of such a thing. Mooji reassured them. It is not who we are. Not only is it okay to let it go, it has to happen. Beyond what we believe ourselves to be, lies an infinitely greater beauty. That is why there was a subtlety to the morning’s insight. It feels like a natural step to take the product of all the self-development work, see it for what it is, and let it go.