Learning to really listen

The basic lesson in observing is in learning to really "listen". Unfortunately, most of us whenever we are engaged in conversation with others really only half listen. And when we visit the great outdoors and attempt to get in touch with the Creation of Mother Earth -- do we really try to listen to the messages that are being expressed either audibly or inaudibly therein? Probably not. In all these areas of communication perhaps we need to discipline ourselves to learn the art of truly listening. We each need to rediscover that if we fill the silence, we cannot hear the voice of God. Once we have learned to quiet down and "center in", then we can begin to hear the voices of Creation and also that still, small voice within which can only come through when we are earnestly creating an attitude of "silence".

~ from "The Gift of Silence" by Leslie Wilson in the July 1990 issue of "The Talking Stick" with thanks to Betty Fribance

Only one who can bear silence

Only one who can bear silence will hear the voice of God.
~ Anonymous

Why do I pray?

The following prayer-poem was written by Ernest L. Brown III when he was a teenager many years ago. Our gratitude to Mrs. Fredi Brown, his mother, for sharing it with us:

~ Ernest L. Brown III

You do not need so much prayer

A shah of Persia used to sit up at night for vigils and prayers. A friend who was visiting wondered at his long meditations after the whole day's work. "It is too much," he said, "you do not need so much prayer."

"Do not say so," was the answer. "You do not know. For at night I pursue God, and during the day God follows me."

~ from TALES by Hazrat Inayat Khan

The deep silence of creation

The deep silence of creation is Spirit's voice directing the people as they walk ... Their steps are firm, for Spirit guides the moccasins to tread where it is safe.
~ Anonymous

Plunging into prayer

And how does one go chasing after a glimpse of the uncreated Light? The Hesychasts, high on Mount Athos, bowed their heads upon their breasts, took a deep breath, and plunged in. What they plunged into was prayer. It began with a tack with which to fix the attention. It became breath itself, an inlet for the universe to invade one's body until the entire cosmos, drawn in, heaved out, was transformed into prayer. The body's posture was important. The breathing was to be carefully controlled so as to keep time with the words. Eventually the prayer, breathed in, united with their very blood and heartbeat; breathed out, it blessed the world. And some monks claimed after a while to have indeed seen the Light of the Transfiguration, uncreated energy beheld by bodily eyes.

~ from AND THE TREES CLAP THEIR HANDS by Virginia Stem Owens

The purpose of meditation practice

The purpose of meditation practice is not enlightenment; it is to pay attention even at unextraordinary times, to be of the present, nothing-but-in-the-present, to bear this mindfulness of now into each event of ordinary life.

~ from THE SNOW LEOPARD by Peter Matthiessen

The accumulated wisdom of centuries

The accumulated wisdom of centuries teaches us that God speaks to the human heart most intimately only in silence. Silence and an inner emptiness or receptivity are the strange conditions for all our relationships. Without the ability to be silent, to wait, to be receptive, all our attempts at communion become manipulative and possessive. We become frustrated because we want instant gratification. We want all of who we are to be revealed. We want to know the end of the story. We find it difficult to wait. Waiting in the stillness, is, perhaps, the hardest of all human activities. It is not only hard; it is dangerous. The act of self-emptying leaves us open to attack from other quarters ... Yet it is only in silence that who we really are begins to appear. In the end, we need not fear, for it is our own best self struggling within, longing to be free.

~ from LIVING IN THE SPIRIT by Rachel Hosmer & Alan Jones

A discipline to refine and deepen

Throughout the ages silence has been considered a way, a discipline, by which people could refine and deepen themselves. It is in silence that our reflective ability -- and our need to reflect -- is born. In silence we grow more aware: sounds, however distant, or the absence of them, bring out the hidden parts of our personality, triggering thoughts and various fleeting phenomena in our body and attention. In silence, we perceive the ineffable, that which cannot be verbalized, cannot be made concrete. In silence and solitude our individuality is affirmed. As we cease to speak, sitting or speaking quietly, within our own hearts and mind, we confront our past actions, aspirations, our most cherished dream figures.

~ from ORDINARY PEOPLE AS MONKS AND MYSTICS by Marilyn Sinetar with thanks to Abby Seixas

It is time to put up a love-swing!

It is time to put up a love-swing!
Tie the body and then tie the mind so that
they swing between the arms of the
Secret One you love.
Bring the water that falls from the clouds
to your eyes.
And cover yourself over entirely with the
shadow of the night.
Bring your face up close to Love's ear,
and then talk only about what you want
deeply to happen.
Kabir says: "Listen to me, friend, bring the face,
shape, and odor of the Holy One inside you."

~ from TRY TO LIVE TO SEE THIS! by Kabir - Versions by Robert Bly
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