November 2018 (Vol. XXXI, No. 10)

Dear Friends ~ There is perhaps a certain irony in collecting words that have been spoken and written about silence. Being human means navigating by way of language and we learn —some things anyway —by talking and listening, writing and reading. Yet the practice of contemplative silence seems more often to be about learning non -verbal ways to understand, to be present, to encounter; a time to sweep away the words in order to allow for the possibility of communion at a deeper level. How hard it is to just be, to open our hearts and minds, to create the space for experience beyond words.

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Saying nothing

saying nothing—
the guest, the host
the white chrysanthemum

~ Ryota Oshima

Just sitting

I remember years ago in Korea in the Peace Corps, how I felt the first time I partook of the daily culture of "just sitting" together with friends in informal tearooms in Seoul, without saying a word; at first I felt quite nervous and bored, but when I was able to relax my mind and just be, it was a refreshing communion... each moment's meeting of a person or even a flower is precious and fleeting, it is to be savored completely, perhaps best in silence.

~ from HAIKU MIND by Patricia Donegan

The silent one

The notion of silence appears to unsettle—or puzzle—no small number of people of all walks of life...Something as "unproductive" as silence is not often taken seriously. The evaluation of silence differs from culture to culture. In the West, if you notice that someone is silent for a prolonged period of time, the tendency might be to ask, "are you all right?" Or the silence might be interpreted as a sign of unbalanced introversion or isolation or passive aggression. In India, they would say of the silent one, Ah muni! (Ah, there is a holy soul!)

~ from Elias Marechal in TEARS OF AN INNOCENT GOD
Tears of an Innocent God
By Elias Marechal

Alive in the silence

At first silence had seemed a deprivation, a symbol of an unwanted isolation. I had resented the solitude of my life and fought it. But gradually the enveloping quiet became a positive element, almost a presence, which settled comfortably and caressingly around me like a soft shawl. It seemed to hum, gently but melodiously, and to orchestrate the ideas that I was contending with, until they started to sing too, to vibrate and reveal an unexpected resonance. After a time I found that I could almost listen to the silence, which had a dimension all of its own...I discovered that I felt at home and alive in the silence. Silence itself had become my teacher.
~ from THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE by Karen Armstrong

Silent retreat

silent retreat—
how loud
my heartbeat

~ Jeannie Martin in A CIRCLE OF BREATH

I would prescribe silence

If I were a physician and I were allowed to prescribe one remedy for all the ills of the world, I would prescribe silence. For even if the word of God were proclaimed in the modern world, how could one hear it with so much noise? Therefore, create silence!
~ Soren Kierkegaard
The Essential Kierkegaard
By Søren Kierkegaard

A still cup

For God
To make love,
For the divine alchemy to work,
The Pitcher needs a still cup.
~ Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky in THE GIFT
The Gift
By Hafiz

The heart is God's servant

The mind does nothing but talk, ask questions, search for meaning; the heart does not talk, does not ask questions, does not search for meaning. Silently, it moves toward God and surrenders. The heart is God's servant.
~ from SAINT FRANCIS by Nikos Kazantzakis
Saint Francis
By Nikos Kazantzakis

I disappeared into Silence

One day, as if I had lived alone for many years in the deep desert, I was taken by a stunning stillness, and without resistance I disappeared into Silence... It was my soul's homecoming, my heart's overflowing love, and my mind's eternal peace.

In Silence, I felt my core identity, my essential nature, as a unity-in-love with all creation. I experienced freedom, clarity, and joy as my true Self... This Self, this Silence belongs to all of us—it is who we are, it is what we are. If we are to experience and embody authentic peace and love, if we are going to bring true healing to our wildly violent and endangered world, we are going to have to learn to live within this essence which joins us together as brothers and sisters.

~ from THE HEALING POWER OF SILENCE by Robert Rabbin

To breathe nothing but silence

To deliver oneself up, to hand oneself over, entrust oneself completely to the silence of a wide landscape of woods and hills, or sea, or desert; to sit still while the sun comes up over that land and fills its silences with light. To pray and work in the morning and to labor and rest in the afternoon, and to sit still again in meditation in the evening when night falls upon that land and when the silence fills itself with darkness and with stars. This is a true and special vocation. There are few who are willing to belong completely to such silence, to let it soak into their bones, to breathe nothing but silence, to feed on silence, and to turn the very substance of their life into a living and vigilant silence.
~ from THOUGHTS IN SOLITUDE by Thomas Merton
Thoughts In Solitude
By Thomas Merton

The black spaces between those stars

How much I long for the night to come again—
I am restless all afternoon...
How much I long for the huge stars to appear all
over the heavens,
And the black spaces between those stars...
~ from "Waiting for the Stars" by Robert Bly

The silence of prayer

The silence of prayer is the silence of listening.
~ Elizabeth O'Connor
Search For Silence
By Elizabeth O'Connor

I give up on words

Because I do not know words – tender, true,
and worthy enough to tread upon the pristine
sweep of your soul,
I give up on words
and offer you the integrity of silence,
the undefiled page,
and the wordless wonder of your own beloved self.

~ from a poem by Loretta Ross

October 2018 (Vol. XXXI, No. 9)

Dear Friends ~ Having just watched the documentary on Mr. Rogers, entitled "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" it struck me that he possessed, like the Dalai Lama, that quality of presence that held each and every one within his perfectly still and attentive gaze, wrapping them in heartfelt reassurance of their worth. He seems to have spent his life telling each person he met —whether child, prisoner, or co-worker— that they are loved just the way they are. Yet how many ways do we try to change ourselves or others? How many qualifiers or conditions do we put on a person's value or worthiness to be loved? And what does it mean to be our best selves? We need to reach for growth and change while knowing also that, at our core, who we are is just right. Sometimes the hardest one to believe that about is ourselves. Perennial plants in my garden have turned from greens to tawny browns and yellows, some withering on their now-brittle stems.

Love isn't a state of perfect caring

Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like "struggle". To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.

~ Mr. Fred Rogers

Within each one of us

Within each one of us there is a pearl of great value. It is solely our own and cannot be found in anyone else. If we are to claim our prized uniqueness, without knowing exactly what we are looking for, we must search our souls for directions, and listen for what our hearts have to tell us about how to find this hidden treasure. This precious pearl that is our own individual worth can only be found when we are willing to stand alone.

~ Sheldon Kopp

In search of our selves

We human beings are in search of meaning, in search of our selves. Very little of what we already are and already have brings us deeper meaning or happiness. We are born for meaning, not pleasure, unless it is pleasure that is steeped in meaning. And we are born as well for suffering, not the suffering that leads to madness but the suffering that leads to joy: the struggle with ourselves and our illusions. We are born to overcome ourselves, and through that overcoming to find an inner condition of great harmony and being. We are born for that—we are not yet that. We are searchers; that is the essence of our present humanness.

~ from A LITTLE BOOK ON LOVE by Jacob Needleman

When I say it's you I like

When I say it's you I like, I'm talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.
~ Mr. Fred Rogers

The light is everything

I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing—
that the light is everything — that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.

~ from "The Ponds" by Mary Oliver

Woven into a pattern

As the threads of fabric are woven into a pattern, so the Self as the living garment of divinity is woven out of the many decisions and crises by which we are affected in the course of our lives. Whether or not they lead to a manifestation of the Self depends solely on our response. Many of us have observed that children, even small children, when faced with some difficulty, possess an attitude which many adults could only envy. That "something," the lack of which we experience as soullessness, is a "someone" who takes a position, who is accountable and who feels committed. Where this higher, responsible ego is lacking there can be no Self.

~ from THE GRAIL LEGEND by Emma Jung
The Grail Legend
By Emma Jung, Marie-Louise von Franz

Saying yes to your intuition

Each of us is born with an inner acorn encoded with our destiny. That acorn already knows; all we need to do is allow it to guide our growth and we will become as majestic as the oak. Experience convinces me that saying yes to your intuition (your inner voice) is saying yes to your greatness, whatever form that might take. And your greatness is not just a gift for yourself; it graces everyone that loves you, the community you live in, and the larger world that surrounds you. You, the real you, is the gift.

~ Blake More in "Intuition," April 1999

We are healed

We are healed to the extent that we love ourselves as we are right now — blemishes, vulnerabilities, and all — not as we wish we will be at some time in the distant future.
~ Marsha Sinetar
Elegant Choices, Healing Choices
By Marsha Sinetar Ph.D.

The inner core of imagination and authenticity

The hardest thing in life may be to learn to truly trust that there is something noble and generative in ourselves. This is a greater sense of the notion of believing in our self; to truly believe in oneself means to uncover the inner core of imagination and authenticity that can also be called the genius within us. When we connect to the inner resident of the soul, we also learn how we are woven to the Soul of the World.

~ from THE GENIUS MYTH by Michael Meade
The Genius Myth
By Michael Meade

The spacious place of the soul

True prayer is finding out who we are in God, finding the spacious place of the soul where we and God feel most at home.
~ Richard Rohr
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