*Brian Wilcox. 'Enjoying Some Alone Time'
* * *
A church invited the Sage to speak at one of its monthly breakfast and fellowship gatherings. The church invited several local religious leaders to speak, one each month, on worship; it hoped to learn more about how different sects worshipped. The Sage sat before the group, while an attendee and he engaged in a dialogue.
I didn't come with a plan to say anything. If you have any questions, you're welcome to ask them.
What do you and your followers say to God when you worship together?
Mostly nothing. We listen.
So, you listen to God?
No, we listen.
But what to?
Possibly, the best I can say is - We listen to nothing.
How can that be? How can you listen to nothing?
Well, it's something.
That makes no sense.
I know, that's why we prefer just to listen.
* * *
John Woolman, a Quaker born in North America, 1720, made a difficult, risky trip into Native American territory. He stayed at one camp for four days, preaching, worshiping, and praying with the tribe. Once, he forgot about the interpreters and poured out his heart in prayer in English. Instead of feeling confused, Papunehang, the chief, put his hand on his chest and spoke, "I love to feel where the words come from."
* * *
The above story, in Bill J. Brent's Holy Silence, reminds us of the prior importance of the Wellspring of what we think, say, and do, before what and how we think, say, and do.
The Wellspring is Silence; Presence is Silence. When we speak and act from the Silence, others attuned to the Silence, recognize the scent of the Silence.
Whatever we call this Wellspring, we recognize Presence intuitively. We, moreover, have times, brief or prolonged, when we may perceive Presence more in the sense of absence. Over time, we learn to sense Presence in the feeling of absence, not being driven by the need for a sensational feeling of the Sacred - this indicates we are living more from spirit, less from bodily senses. In being drawn beyond thoughts, words, and acts, the sense-knowing of the Good anoints us with tranquil joy and hushed gratitude.
Chuang-Tuz writes, in the 200s, of this benefit of silence.
Relaxing in nonaction, you can feel calm and contented, with the five inner organs - the repositories of vital energy in the body and also the seats of the emotions ... - at peace and the senses ... free from distraction. Then pure spirit starts to shine forth, and you can be completely still and rest in utmost silence. This in turn has an impact on your senses; they become much sharper and more powerful as and when the mind gets out of the way.
* * *
Hence, time alone or with others in silence invites the feeling of what is present where there are no words, no anything - as the Sage said, "nothing" that is "something." Initially, this Nothing-Something may feel like an arid void; in time, we come to feel it as a Garden of Delight. Silence has weaned us off sense indulgence; hence, we are more aware of Life's subtle sense of Life. Life experiences Life, then, in a way simple and quiet.
* * *
(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2020
Sources: Chuang-Tzu. Chuang-Tzu. Trans. & Ed. Livia Kohn.