When there is silence one finds the anchor of the universe within oneself”
― Lao Tzu
"Be still and know that I am God."
― Proverbs 46:10
The Silence was Golden.
As I rang the bell to end our first period of meditation, bowed, and looked around the room, I knew that I wasn't alone. I could see it in folks' eyes.
The Presence was palpable.
As we went around the Circle to compare notes on what we had each experienced during our meditation, the first person exclaimed, wide-eyed, "you could actually hear the silence!" Another added, "the Silence was deafening!" Others nodded. Everyone knew exactly what they meant.
When we share the Silent Presence, even for a few moments, our Essential Oneness within the embrace of the One Love becomes less theoretical. You can feel it.
I love it when that happens.
The Theory and the Practice
Immersed as we are in a patently materialistic society, a milieu that fosters individualism, greed, speed, fear and frustration, we have been conditioned to experience our world through mental and emotional states that manifest a lot of noise, restless motion -- and a deep sense of separation. Bombarded with stimulation and stress, our minds habitually filled with incessant chatter, most of us have spent much of our lives being constantly distracted and disconnected from our True Nature. Disconnected from ourselves, we are disconnected from one another. A direct experience of what Thich Nhat Hanh terms Interbeing, our fundamental interconnection with one another and the Web of Life, is rarely encountered on a conscious level.
Coming to rest in the clear, open, and spacious quality of consciousness that emerges as we Sit in Stillness is a precious experience. The cultivation of an individual practice is essential. The cultivation of a Collective Practice is also, I think, crucially important. Experiencing what my first Zen teacher, Reverend Gyomay Kubose called the Soundless Sound as we Sit together Heart to Heart is nothing more and nothing less than Holy Communion.
Unfortunately, it's still all too rare in this, the richest and most powerful nation on earth. This has enormous consequences -- and not only for our individual happiness. A glance at the evening's news makes it obvious: the future of our planet hangs on it. More of us need to join others to get our act together.
|Thich Nhat Hanh and thousands Sit in Silence, London, 2012|
As more of us turn toward the Practice (in whatever form it takes), as more of us join together to Sit Still and rest in the embrace of the One Love, we just might be able to manifest the type of kindness, compassion and wisdom that is needed to save this ole suffering world.
It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it, right?