Brian Wilcox. 'A Colorful Way'
Waterman Trail. Georgetown, Maine
For those who know only the world of words, silence is mere emptiness. But our silent heart knows the paradox: the emptiness of silence is inexhaustibly rich; all the words in the world are merely a trickle of its fullness.
*David Steindl-Rast. The Way of Silence.
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Disciple: Why don't you get upset when one of us does not agree with you?
Sage: I don't expect you to agree with me.
Disciple: Then, why do you give us teachings?
Sage: To invite you to think for yourself.
To think for yourself in a spiritual sense is akin to learning to listen with the Heart. The head and the Heart need to be united in receptivity to truth. Reasoning prepares us to descend into the Heart. In the Heart, the Spirit reveals wisdom no human can teach.
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A question you can ask yourself in the quest for sacred truth is, "Am I willing to welcome the truth shown to me, even if it goes against everything I have been taught is true?"
The head of a sizeable religious sect had a reputation for being a superb leader? Someone asked him, “What makes you such a great leader?” He replied, “Very simple. The formula is simple: I agree with everyone.” The other said, “Don’t be silly. How could you be a competent leader, agreeing with everyone?” He answered, “Yes. You're right. How could I be a competent leader, agreeing with everyone?”
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But when that One, the Spirit of truth, comes, She will lead you into all truth. She will not speak from Herself. She will tell you whatever She hears, including showing you what is to come.
*Jesus, Gospel of John
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That we receive sacred teaching from within, means we need to pray in a way whereby we settle into the withinness of receptivity to the Light—this inner prayer the Christian contemplative François Fénelon (b. 1651) well-articulates.
We must retire from all visible objects and silence all desires and wandering imaginations of the mind, that in this profound silence of the whole self, we may listen to the inexpressible voice of the Divine Teacher. We must listen with an attentive ear, for it is a still, small voice. It is not indeed a voice speaking words, as when someone speaks to a friend. Instead, this voice is a perception infused by the hidden workings and influences of the Divine Spirit, insinuating to us .... in a language perfectly intelligible to the attentive person.
But how seldom is it that one remains silent enough for God to speak! The murmurs of our vain desires and our self-infatuation disturb all the teachings of the Divine Spirit. Ought we then to be surprised, if so many persons, apparently devout but too full of their own wisdom and confidence in their own virtues, are not able to hear it. And that they look upon this internal Word as the delusion of fanatics? Alas! What is it they aim at with their vain rationalizing? The external word, even of the Gospel, would be but an empty sound without this living and fruitful Word in the interior, to interpret and open it to the understanding.
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Helena Wong's testimony to what can happen in the mute, receptive repose to the motions of Grace can encourage us in our patient waiting for the Inner Light to arise. We may find suddenly the grace of understanding or a fresh influx of wonderful Presence.
a door opens
and a stray emotion
stalks into your heart
makes its presence known
before you know it
the furniture has been moved around,
curtains taken down,
and you can feel
going on, but
did this feeling
where did it come from?
Ⓒ Brian Wilcox, 2020
*Story "... leader of a sizeable religious sect..." adapted from Anthony de Mello. Rediscovering Life.
*Helena Wong quote in David A. Johnson. A Quaker Prayer Life.