Robert Kull

Solitude: Seeking Wisdom in Extremes [Book]

Book Overview:  Years after losing his lower right leg in a motorcycle crash, Robert Kull traveled to a remote island in Patagonia’s coastal wilderness with equipment and supplies to live alone for a year. He sought to explore the effects of deep solitude on the body and mind and to find the spiritual answers he’d been seeking all his life. With only a cat and his thoughts as companions, he wrestled with inner storms while the wild forces of nature raged around him. The physical challenges were immense, but the struggles of mind and spirit pushed him even further.

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“Our culture is so focused on progress that we frequently don’t experience our own lives just as they are here and now.  But the world will always be exactly as it is in each moment.  It’s astonishing how much time and energy we expend in trying to deny this simple fact.  This doesn’t imply passivity.  Our visions and ideals are also part of this moment.  Everything changes, no matter how slowly, and we can act to alleviate suffering.  Yet if plans for the future are not balanced with acceptance and joy in this moment, just as it is, our lives go unlived.  The challenge is to work with our lives as they are rather than imagine that things are different.  If we can learn to soften our aversions and desires, our lives might become less frantic and more spacious.” ~ Robert Kull, Solitude

“We often seem to value activity above all else, but like all beings we need to rest and recuperate.  I suspect the widespread occurrence of depression in our culture is linked to our refusal to allow ourselves quiet time.  Feeling the need to remain constantly busy – mentally or physically – in socially productive activity can prevent us from turning inward to simply be with ourselves.  Such inward turning requires time and might lower productivity and social standing.  It is not that all activity is bad, but many of us are far out of balance and our activity does not come from a place of stillness and wisdom.” ~ Robert Kull, Solitude

“Where are we trying to get to with our incessant activity?  To the stars?  But we’re already as among the stars as we will ever be.  Better quality of life?  The quality we seek is lost in the seeking.  Truly we have it backward with our continual striving for what we don’t have and avoidance of what we do.  What we crave most deeply we have always had.” ~ Robert Kull, Solitude

“The strong sensations we generally label as pain are inherent to living, but we can work with the quality of our experience in relation to these sensations.  If we resist them, our resistance actually intensifies the sensations and thus creates additional pain.  Another common way we intensify pain is by taking it personally and having a ‘why me?’ attitude.  If we can relax into pain as a natural part of living that everyone experiences, and let go of the self-judgment that something is wrong with me because I’m experiencing pain, we can alleviate our suffering to a large degree. Much of our suffering is caused by attachment to our sense of a separate autonomous ‘I’ that can somehow achieve a permanent state of affairs with only pleasure and no pain.” ~ Robert Kull, Solitude

“I spend so much time worrying about whether people will like and respect me in the years ahead, but there is nothing I can do to make that happen.  I can only work on liking and respecting myself and others, look for Spirit in each of us, and learn to accept inevitable frustration, fear, and anger without blaming myself or the external world.  My task is to stay centered, not manipulate others to make me feel ok.” ~ Robert Kull, Solitude

“We have seriously confounded luxury with necessity in our culture, and can no longer differentiate between what we want in order to maintain a particular lifestyle (with its social relationships and sensual pleasures) and what we actually need for physical survival.  We have confounded social identity with biological and spiritual being to the point of believing we will die if we lose our social standing, which is often based on the material wealth we have accumulated.  This accelerating spiral of desires becoming necessities is driving our suicidal rush to destroy the Earth we depend on for our actual physical survival.” ~ Robert Kull, Solitude

“No wonder I’m a perfectionist – always hoping that if I do things well enough I’ll finally feel loved and accepted.  So much of my activity is driven by pain: if I can just do it right, I won’t hurt anymore.  The trap is that it works – temporarily.  For a short time I do feel better, but then self-criticism sets in again and I need to accomplish something else – perfectly.” ~ Robert Kull, Solitude

 

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