"Mindfulness and Meditation allow us to open our hearts, relax our bodies, and clear our minds enough to experience the vast, mysterious, sacred reality of life directly. With Practice we come to know for ourselves that eternity is available in each moment.

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call:
Musings on Life and Practice
by a Longtime Student of Meditation

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Silence is Golden

 “Be still.  Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity. 
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 

Sometimes the magic happens when you are sitting alone in silence.  The thin veil dissolves. The Connection is made.  

Sometimes the magic happens when you are meditating with others.  In the silence, the illusion of our fundamental separateness evaporates.   The "I" becomes "we" -- and we know it.

I think it's even sweeter when it happens that way.

I remember one of those times distinctly.  Sitting here now, it seems like it happened in a different world, a long, long time ago.  I guess it was.  The year was 6 B.C.  You know --  six years Before COVID. 

There were fifteen of us gathered to Just Sit Still during the Wednesday Evening Mindfulness Circle at the Recovery Learning Community's Greenfield Center that night.  As is our Practice, I rang the bell three times and we sat in silent meditation for twenty minutes.

At a certain point, it happened.  It got really quiet.  Really, Really -- Quiet

In the silence,  our Shared Presence emerged.

When I rang the bell to end the meditation and begin the Heart Council, the air was electric.  I knew that what I had just experienced wasn't just a subjective personal event occurring within the confines of my own skull.  I could see it in people's eyes.  

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!" 

"Yes.  The Silence was deafening!" a second added.  Others nodded.  

The magic had occurred.  In the silence, what my first Zen teacher called the Soundless Sound had emerged as a shared experience.   Whenever that happens, even for a  few moments, our Essential Oneness within the embrace of the One Love becomes less theoretical.   Reality Asserts Itself.  You can feel it in your bones:

We are not only in this together -- we are this together!

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, Just Sitting Still can be challenging.  We have been conditioned to experience our world through mental and emotional states that manifest a lot of mental activity, 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 calls Interbeing, our fundamental interconnection with one another and the entire Web of Life, is rarely encountered on a conscious level.  Yet it is always there -- always here, more correctly -- in the embrace of what contemporary spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle and others have called the Eternal Now.

Be Still and Know

We each, at least as children, have touched the clear, open, spacious quality of consciousness that characterizes our True Nature.  

Yet, maintaining the open heart and clear mind that connects us with the deepest dimensions of our being is easier said than done.  We have to see through layers of conditioning to engage the world as it is.  Meditation is a  means to doing just that. 

Yet,  Just Sitting Still is no mean feat.  It takes commitment and effort, courage, and a gentle but unrelenting kindness and patience with oneself and others.  We have to be loving in order to experience Love.  We have to be One to know One.  This takes Practice.   

Unfortunately, such Practice is still all too rare in this, the richest and most powerful nation on earth.  Yet, a glance at the evening's news makes it obvious: it's now or never.  The future of this planet depends on more folks realizing our Essential Oneness in the web of life.

Although the pandemic served to interrupt the rat race scurry of contemporary living for many, the momentum of centuries of materialism and the glorification of the ego persists.  As we look at the stark horrors of warfare and environmental destruction it's clear: We've got to get our act together as a species.  More of us need to join with others to see through the delusion of egoistic separation and work to create a world based on our fundamental Oneness.  If we don't, we may not make it. 

With the social isolation still required as we (hopefully) wend our way out of the pandemic, these collective efforts are challenging.  The deep bonding that can more readily emerge "in person" as we sit in physical proximity (and exchanging a hug now and then) isn't yet possible.  Yet, if the truth be told, True Being exists beyond time and space.  The One Love that embraces all that has ever been, is now, and could ever possibly be, is Present even in the "virtual reality" of video conferencing on the web.  

In fact, within the darkness of these times, there has been increased access to the Practice as it is presented by numerous teachers and meditation groups worldwide.  Even a retiree like me, living well below the poverty line (a story for a different time), has had access to free talks, courses, and meetings -- besides sitting with the Mindfulness Circles and monthly Be Still and Know: Day of Mindful Practice retreats that I  facilitate on Zoom.  (See webpage for more info on these events which are free and open to all.* )  

Thich Nhat Hanh and thousands Share Silent Presence in 2012
That being said, I look forward to the day that I can Just Sit Still with others again in the same physical space and share Practice.  I  look forward to the day when large Gatherings can support us in the effort to turn things around on this planet.  As more and more of us turn toward the Practice (in whatever form it takes),  we just might be able to muster up the level of kindness, compassion and wisdom that is needed to save this old suffering world.

It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it, right? 

* If you are viewing this post on a phone, you will have to scroll down and select <view web version> two times to view information and log in details for these events)

1 comment:

from the void said...

Dear Lance
Very good that you post this post again...
A few times i experienced this,,,,Extraordinary Stillness...Although as i must desribed it,,,it was the most ordinary Stillness,,,,but compared to just silence we experience in everyday life....This is uttermost extraordinary....
i often think that if i did not experienced it once.....and i had read about this Stillness,,,i just had fantasies about how it should be....Now that i experienced it.....even then i could not described it, but it striked me as a purest miracle.....LOVE rinus