Withdrawal from Conventional Life

Some people will reach a point in their growth when they will wish to withdraw from the world. It is not the withdrawal of an antisocial or fearful person running away from the world. Short periods of withdrawal are, of course, beneficial to everyone. However, the type of withdrawal we are talking about is for the purpose of deep, spiritual transformation. It is the withdrawal of someone who is, generally, already competent in the world. Otherwise, our shortcomings will rise to pull us back into the world where they will be thrown at us again for educational reasons. Withdrawal is not really a choice, nor is it difficult. The attachment to the world will have already diminished and we will crave the solitude that seems to be the only way that we can connect to that which we seek.

Rite of Passage

Some type of separation or seclusion is, for some of us, a necessary rite of passage. When we see through the self-confirmatory nature of human interaction, we can decide to refrain from participating in it for some time. One must learn to tolerate and live with silence before one is ready to talk the talk of the angels. For a few people, the silence remains in the form of seclusion. For all, it remains internally and is regarded as precious. It, sometimes, requires the silence of withdrawal to spiritually work through some inner milestones. What other people think about this is only of concern because of our love for others and our compassion for their inability to understand what we may be doing. However, the focus is not on what others think of us but on how we can fulfil our spiritual potential and help the world. There can be a transitory conflict between spiritual evolution and the pull towards that which is conventional, acceptable, and normal human behaviour. The world, as ignorant as it is, accepts very little deviation from its ridiculous and unfounded ideas of normalcy.

As the underlying motives of typical human behaviour become clearer to us, we can be shocked and disconcerted by the selfish, inconsiderate, disingenuous, and harmful intentions of routine, daily interaction. All of this is not apparent to the average man or woman who is engrossed in life without much awareness. We can become rather dismissive of all human interaction and find it stupid, pointless, and destructive. Our tolerance even for fundamental, polite niceties which are considered crucial in customary, day-to-day convention can become rather thin. We may withdraw from mainstream behaviour in order to go within and metamorphose into something else more real and good. We all know of the introverted artist, the isolated mystic, and the unsociable philosopher who have withdrawn from traditional, societal communication.

Nonpersonal, Intelligent Love

We may wonder if we are on the right track because, for a while, we may seem less loving than we were before. It helps to remind ourselves of the shallowness of most normal love and that we are seeking something better. At least, in solitude and withdrawal one is offering a more sincere, albeit, silent and unconventional love of a nonpersonal, intelligent nature. There is no need to doubt the worth of our developing capacity to radiate a quiet, unpretentious energy field. Our goal of true, spiritual love is concerned with neither niceness nor prevailing behaviour patterns. It is a radical transition. This transformation occurs step by step. Mostly, it is the unexplainable and deeply welcomed grace of God. It has its own timing and evolution. We keep offering up everything which is not in accord with the desired goodness we seek. And we are kind to ourselves, allowing as much solitude as needed, knowing that our worth to the world is growing daily in a precious and uncommon manner.

Withdrawing creates an environment for the diminishing of the ego. The person loses interest in the normal worldly goings-on. One will have little or no interest in the media and will, probably, actively avoid it because of its negative impact on one’s consciousness. In some cases, one can go for years without knowing even the most basic information about world affairs. One keeps going forward until, quite surprisingly, one realises that the valley has been passed. One has to wait until the ego has dissolved enough for the Light to take up residence within one’s being to the extent that is required for that individual, at that time, in their evolution.

Solitary Confinement

The period of isolation may be deceptive in appearance. A person can live an, apparently, solitary lifestyle but the mind is full of interaction and busy noise. That is not solitude. It is a crowd. On the other hand, one can live the appearance of a normal life but, unbeknown to onlookers, be transgressing through a self-imposed solitary confinement. In my own case, my most intensive period of isolation was during my late twenties. However, this was totally unknown to anyone at the time. How was this possible, particularly given that I had two young children and was married? My young family had moved countries from Australia to England. My Australian relatives and friends would have assumed I was living a normal life in England but they just didn’t happen to hear much about it. This was a good arrangement because, certainly, one doesn’t want to worry people unnecessarily. I deliberately kept to myself during my three years in England because I was involved in this inner work. My husband worked long hours in a demanding CEO position and spent many weeks travelling abroad and was not aware of what I was doing.

My days were spent in the company of two very little children. As we communicated quite naturally in a telepathic manner, as many mothers do with their little children, there was little need for speech. It was silence, indeed. The solitary period had started before moving to England and continued for a year after our return to Australia. Then, all of a sudden, life took one of those unexpected and totally transforming turns and the children and I happily threw ourselves into the busy life of a lively community when the children started school. I was back in the bustling marketplace after returning from the hermitage caves. By now, however, the solitude had taken up permanent residence within my being.

In the Midst of Humanity

In travelling through this spiritual territory, one does one’s part, to the best of one’s ability, but it is not really a process that can be greatly altered by individual will. The work comes from Beyond. Eventually, we come out the other end of our withdrawal with a renewed interest in other people and a rekindled desire for participation in life. To most people, we seem more or less the same (except that we are more direct and honest and we may seem a little disinterested in some things), however, inside we are totally different. Driven by God’s unconditional love, we have a great deal more strength, courage, wisdom, and equanimity. We do not open our mouth without the express desire to be of service in contributing something of value to that which is around us. It is a process well worth every little pain. For a few Great Ones, the road ultimately leads to the fulfilment of their spiritual potential as a master or rishi. Their energy holds the world together.

In the beginning, being a stranger to the world can feel alone. As spiritual beings, to some extent, we are ever a stranger to normal human life. We are in the world but not of it. When the humanness has diminished enough and the human karma worked through enough, the alone-feeling evaporates, never to return. In fact, it becomes apparent that it would be impossible to ever feel alone again as one is intimately connected to a thriving life-force. We feel intrinsically related to everyone. We have a deep solitariness but we can never be lonely because there can no longer be any separation from God. We are more a part of humanity than ever before. We are joined irrevocably in the evolution of humanity both individually and collectively.

It could be said that we become so much a stranger that we disappear and find ourselves reborn in the midst of humanity which is quite a paradox. What remains is invisible, wordless, comforting, strong, and soft. It is every beautiful leaf, every moving human emotion, and every breath of every living thing. It is everything, yet, it is nothing. It grows silently and steadily. We are already it, and It is already us. We continue to go forward with our spiritual practices and these practices increasingly envelop us in loveliness. We come out the other side as a transparent being, nameless but with the mark of God. One could wish for nothing more.

This article is from The Love of Devotion 

10 Replies to “Withdrawal from Conventional Life”

  1. Donna, how do you know ?!? It feels that the way lights up one step at a time and when I hesitate, not knowing whether and how to make the next step and I pause, quivering, your posts come, always on time to reassure me I’m on the right path. It is dark, still very dark, but these flickers of light are sometimes all we need to keep lifting our feet.
    Thank you!


  2. I really resonated to this piece, Donna, as in “this sounds familiar!” Thanks. (Just catching up on emails!) xo



  3. I like to add a passage from Dr. David Hawkins, that I quoted partially : ” Another source of hesitation when doing spiritual work occurs because there seems to be a transitory conflict between customary social attitudes and the work of spiritual evolution. For example, one may feel guilt over abandoning cherished, mechanistic or religious convictions or good – person programming held to be ideals. To move through these source of conflict, it is useful to remember that the spiritual journey requires the relinquishing of all beliefs and attitudes in order to create space for ‘Reality to shine forth’.” David Hawkins , ” The Eye of the I “, pg 107


  4. I am somewhat “shy” about writing publicly for a while now. It seems that from once being an extrovert person, I became the withdrawn mystic or at least an introverted person in the eyes of others. I don t like big discussions, as interesting they may be in some ways. My contribution, at this time, is so very quiet and unseen. But it is there, it exists. On a certain level, interaction with people is based on accustomed and silently accepted principles. Even if one stands up or provokes a strong reaction, he or she is valuable – although not as comfortable as the always so nice one – for the mode of being in the human world and its functioning. A whole different thing is it to leave all these modes/ways for spiritual evolution. It does not belong to the world s system. It takes away human identity such as “cherished, mechanistic or religious beliefs and attitudes” (Dr David R Hawkins) and leaves you in the realm of Spirit where you have your true identity. The love I radiate now is far different from the love before. Although it seems to people that I withdraw from them and give less to them, actually it is a drawing toward God and so a very different quality of giving (offering). Seeing the true identity of others, uplifts and helps them far more and is beyond what the human realm is able to offer.


  5. I have been reading about the early life of Muhammad the Founder of The Muslim religion and I notice with interest how he was not interested in normal social interaction. He withdrew constantly (from a very early age) even clearing a cave in the hillside above Mecca to avoid the normal crowds while he meditated and had his quiet time. He was so strongly on the spiritual path that he lost interest in running his family business and finances, asking his wife to take charge of this once again as she had done before they were married. He was becoming increasingly able to communicate with his God and to identify his true calling. But he needed the stillness to do so. Many around him thought him very strange. Of course he too had to re-engage with his society when he was ready to undertake his mission.

    While I am a dedicated spiritual student, I feel that the lessons I have to learn still require me to interact frequently with many people and even large groups. These are lessons I need to learn that I would avoid if I was simply to withdraw from society. However I value my quiet meditation and praying time which I set aside every day. It is during these times of stillness that it is possible for me to center myself and find the harmony within. I often wonder if I am making any progress at all until a comment from someone else shows me that I am on the right path and opportunities to help others are presented more frequently.
    Thank you for a beautifully written article which explains the challenges of the spiritual path so clearly.


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