After spiritual awakening, you may spend some time in the Hermit’s Cave. If it’s been a long time, you may be asking…how can I have a life again?
Whether it’s a literal retreat from the world a la Himalayan monastic cell or moving back into your mom’s house while cutting work and social responsibilities to a bare minimum, after a profound spiritual shift it’s not uncommon to experience some kind of pulling in or withdrawal from the world and life you knew. Sometimes this is of your own design, and sometimes it’s not voluntary: your life breaks up with you.
You may find this withdrawal a great relief in some ways. It gives you space to just be, without the constant mindless stimulation and demands of society. It allows you time to let the changes blossom in you, or blow through you—the process can be gentle or merciless!
However, you might also feel a sense of loss, or at a loss. You may have lost your bond with friends, even family. You may have left your career or find that you are constitutionally no longer able to continue doing the kind of work you used to. You might end up feeling like a rubber band that’s lost its elasticity. You might spend years in this state of passivity, withdrawal or limitation. People describe it as a kind of limbo state.
Hermit’s Caves are awesome, for hermits
Some people are natural hermits. It may have never been obvious before, but after a big spiritual shift, their inner hermit becomes evident, dominant. It’s in their nature to withdraw after spiritual awakening and to remain apart, permanently. There is no draw or tension to re-enter society. The Hermit’s Cave is their home.
For others this is not the case. And even if you visit your own version of the Hermit’s Cave, it’s more like a retreat—you go to cocoon for a while and re-emerge. You are not supposed to stay there forever.
This is not to say you should rush your time in the cave, just because you feel uncomfortable with the process of dissolution. It can be very uncomfortable, indeed. You can’t skip steps here.
What am I still doing here?
This is an important question, more so for people who are actually awake rather than those who have had a Big Spiritual Experience. Once the helping others or teaching others mission rises and falls away, and any other Life Purpose plots and story lines fall away, the fact remains: you are still here.
If you are not a true hermit, then at some point the tension of being too long in The Cave will equal the passivity. Now that can be quite an uncomfortable and confusing process—dialing up the tension, when it has no natural outlet. You may experience anxiety, disordered sleep, all kinds of symptoms of tension rising in a passive system.
There is a tipping point when you have been in withdrawal long enough. The tension can be quite pronounced, but it’s confusing when the passivity, the lack of structure and will to leave are pretty much still equal to or slightly greater than the tension.
Some people will exit The Cave at this point. Some will do it gracefully and others, not so much. For some The Cave, which is the movement of passivity into withdrawal, is self reinforcing. The longer you stay in the cave past your exit date, the less possible it seems to leave. You can feel trapped in amber while life is passing by. This is not the same as profound inner stillness. This is being stuck.
Learning to live in the world, even though you’ll never be of the world, isn’t a cakewalk. But if you are not a hermit, staying in The Hermit’s Cave for longer than you need to is pretty lame. It feels pretty lame! Everyone has their own path and method to exit The Cave, and also, their own obstacles to overcome before they can take that step over the threshold into the world again.