God is the friend of silence. See how nature -- trees, flowers, grass -- grow in silence; see the stars, the moon, the sun, how they move in silence... The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us. All our words will be useless unless they come from within.
My first remembered experience of the numinous occurred when I was barely three... The sun was shining, and as I walked along the dusty lane I became acutely aware of the things around me. I noticed a group of dandelions on my left at the base of a stone wall. Most of them were in full bloom, their golden heads irradiated by the sun, and suddenly I was overcome by an extraordinary feeling of wonder and joy. It was as if I was part of the flowers, and stones and dusty earth. I could feel the dandelions pulsating in the sunlight, and a timeless unity with all life.
Many of us need the wilderness as a place to listen to the quiet, to feel at home with ancient rhythms that are absent in city life, to know the pulse of a river, the riffle of the wind, the rataplan of rain on the slickrock.
What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone, in the forest, at night, cherished by this wonderful, intelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world, the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges, and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows! Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, this rain. As long as it talks, I am going to listen.
We can only start to grow in being when we take time to be still, even if it is only a few minutes each day, and open ourselves to God, like a flower opening its pedals to the sun, and receiving the strengthening rays of light. With continual practice, we can actually know that the spirit of Divine Love -- the Love of the omniscient creator of the entire universe -- is in us. ... Being still and experiencing the presence of God is the most important thing we can possibly do; for in this state of passivity we receive directive and strength for the day's action.
Spirit that hears each one of us,
hears all that is --
Listens, listens, hears us out --
inspire us now!
Our own pulse beats in every
And also within the flowered ground
beneath our feet.
We can hear it in water, in wood, and
even in stone.
We are earth of this earth, and
we are bone of this bone.
This is a prayer I sing, for we
have forgotten this and so
the earth is perishing.
A human being is part of a whole, called by us the "Universe", a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of our consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
There are three walls that divide us from one another and from the realization of Unity for which we yearn... These are the walls of envy, resentment and pride... Everything is reaching towards the light, and just as the trees and the beautiful flowers seek out the light, so does Beauty herself seek out the light within us. As long as Beauty is covered by these walls, She cannot be one with the Light who created Her in the first place... When you can watch and observe and be honest about the sense of separation that we all feel, you will come closer to the walls. And then, gently, you can reach out to each stone and brick that needs to be removed ... stones and bricks that can be washed and transformed in love.
George Leonard in THE SILENT PULSE shares the sense of unity and harmony with the planet that a young man of seventeen experienced:
"Even though physically separate, I knew a tree, grains of sand, sea, flying birds. Everything was God, holy; as God is total, so the driftwood branch was holy. This must be the stuff religion is made of. Never before or after have I felt so alive."
Spirituality is that quality of being that expresses the bonding of all living and non-living things into an evolutionary unity.
The wisdom of the peoples of elder cultures can make an important contribution to the post-modern world, one that we must begin to accept as the crisis of self, society and the environment deepens. This wisdom cannot be told, but it is to be found by each of us in the direct experience of silence, stillness, solitude, simplicity, ceremony and vision.