Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > wisdom of compassion and silence


Silence & Sharing ~ Climbing into Each Other's Heart

Feb 14, 2020

hanging out together on a winter's day

*Brian Wilcox. 'hanging out together on a winter's day'.

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The ultimate sharing is not sharing something, but sharing yourself, and you are not a something.

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Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be silent.

*Judaism and Christianity. Psalm 4.4, AV

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Robert Aitken, in Zen Master Raven...

Mole spoke up one evening and asked, “Why don’t we ever talk about love in our discussions?”
Raven asked, “What would you like to say about love?”
Mole stared back at Raven and was silent.

I think Mole said something profound, really profound, possibly the most profound something ever said about love ~ nothing. The wisdom of saying nothing, we need more, much more, of that, don't we?

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Abba Theophilus visited a desert monastery. The brethren that gathered to meet him said to Abba Pambo, "Say something to the Archbishop, so that he may be edified." The Abba replied, “If he is not edified by my silence, he will not be edified by my speech."

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Father Armand Negro, in Carl Arico. A Taste of Silence...

Prayer is principally God's work. God is present …, loving life into us, sustaining and working in us. God is in every heartbeat, every breath, every expanse of physical, sexual and physic energy, every thought, hope and desire, every decision. When we are conscious of God's presence, of God being in and around us, we are in prayer. When we are aware that we move and love in God's loving gaze, we are in prayer. When God makes us conscious of God's nearness and touch, we are in prayer. In prayer, we are not called to support or enrich God but to be led and strengthened by God.

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I sat in the waiting area of a doctor's office, reading a book, waiting for a friend. A woman came out of a room into the hallway. She began talking to the doctor. She talked, and talked, and talked … and loudly, and something the physician would not have interest in likely, certainly not as he had patients waiting. I admired the doctor's patience. I, at last, wearied of her words left and sat on a bench outside. The woman soon walked out. She got in a vehicle with a man I assumed to be her husband. She was still talking, and still loudly. I wondered how he lived with that all the time.

With the rise of rapid means of communication, we have become bombarded with words. Words easily in such a culture become cheap merchandise passed among us with little thought, little depth, more a taking up of space, distraction, and entertainment than anything substantial. We tend to become enamored with our voices, a means to escape intimacy with others, with ourselves, with Life. Amid such cacophony, what the late Buddhist teacher Dainin Katagiri, in The Light that Shines through Infinity, calls '"blah, blah, blah'", we need to take initiative to assert our need for silence and solitude, and unapologetically.

I walked into a sanctuary on a Sunday morning. I sat in the back and prepared for silent meditation before the beginning of the liturgy. Well, no, I did not expect everyone to be silent. But a woman came in and sat next to me. Friends turned around to talk with her. They began talking, on and on, about her hairdo. Apparently, they were more interested in her hairdo than that they had entered a sacred space to worship with others. Apparently, they were more interested in blah, blah, blah than that some present might actually be there to worship. I excused myself, walked to the other side of the sanctuary, sat down, and enjoyed some quiet time before the liturgy, some retreat from blah, blah, blah.

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In the Quiet we sharpen our alertness to the Divine – in, around, and through us. Simply stopping, being silent and aware, is as much prayer as any words we can say. We can acknowledge in our loving gaze back to the Divine, in the words of Father Negro: God is loving life into us.

This loving look applies in human relationships. We can be the loving look, loving life into someone we know, or a stranger. We can effortlessly love life into each other. We can, as in an apt analogy from Jeff Foster, in The Way of Rest, "Climb into another's heart by reaching into the mysteries of our own."

This week in coastal Maine has been icy and cold. One of those cold and overcast weeks here, common this time of year, with little Sunlight. Driving into a parking lot, I drove past an aged woman buddled up in layered clothing to stay warm. She had a sign. She needed money. On the way out, I stopped and gave her some cash. She, at first, mostly looked away from me. I sensed she was embarrassed, she had an ashamed look on her face. I spoke to her, smiling, about the ice all around her. I urged her to be careful, so as not to slip. She smiled back, and her eyes changed, for now there was the spark of Joy. She maintained eye contact, unlike before. She said, smiling, "Yes, I have to choose carefully my spots." We continued talking, and we said our goodbyes, she and I sharing blessing for each other. We had climbed into each other's heart.

This communing, heart-with-heart, is a fruit of Silence. Out of the Silence comes gentle attraction and kind attention. That loving look, with or without words, may draw another out of a world of poverty and shame, into Joy, even if only for a few moments, but in those few moments is Eternity, so Love.

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One could wonder, "What is so important about such a chance meeting? How does Silence relate to that?" David Stendl-Rast observes, in The Way of Silence...

Silence too, in this sense, is not the absence of word or sound. It is not characterized by absence but by presence, presence too great for words. ... The very term “mystery” comes from the Greek word, muein: “to keep silent” or “close the mouth.” Mystery is not an empty emptiness but the incomprehensible Presence that touches us and renders us speechless as it imparts to us meaning.

So, in meeting that woman on that icy day, there was presence-meeting-presence, or Mystery communing with Mystery. And in the words spoken, words dissolved in Silence, while Silence lived and spoke in and through words, for words are means to communicate the Mystery, as well as the Mystery to reach out through us to the other and through the other to us.

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Here, we have the meeting of Compassion with Silence, and we find that in Silence we grow in love for the world, and we desire to share that love with others and recieve that love from others. David Stendl-Rast shares the following, in Too Deep for Words.

... I remember a festive day in the early 1980s, when Bernie Glassman Roshi, a Zen teacher whom I admire for his deep social commitment, was being ordained as abbot of Greystone Mandala in New York. Zen teachers from far away had come for this ritual. Their gorgeous golden robes, the arrangements of chrysanthemums, the many candles, and the clouds of incense reminded me vividly of a solemn High Mass in a Catholic or Anglican cathedral—best of all, the sacred silence between chants. Into this silence, suddenly the beeper on someone’s wristwatch went off. Oops! One couldn’t help but feel sorry for the unfortunate owner of that jinxed timepiece. But Bernie Glassman spoke up and announced, “This was my alarm. I have taken a vow to interrupt whatever I am doing at high noon and to think thoughts of peace. Please join me for a moment in doing so. Our world needs it.”

Yes, our world needs thoughts of peace. And our hearts are more attuned to peace through wedding them with the peace-of-Silence. By communing with my heart upon my bed, or anywhere, I am better prepared to commune heart-with-heart with others, everywhere. Living in communion daily with the Mystery within myself and enfolding all, I am more prepared to climb into the heart of another, inviting him or her to climb into my heart to share freely and there find we are truly, though different, one. And there we discover anew that, though we each are at times by ourself, we are never, can never, be alone.

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*Video can be accessed on original site via upper left artist-title below...

(C) Brian Wilcox, 2020


Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > wisdom of compassion and silence

©Brian Wilcox 2020