I sit here at 5:15am, writing to you, in the dark hours before dawn, a sliver of moon is rising, just visible through the trees.
I’ve been up since 4:30am.
I love this time of day. The deep silence of it.
The mind is quiet, after a night of deep, restful sleep. I sit, centred at the heart, sitting quietly in awareness.
Each day I rise at 4:30am, and sit, outdoors, in silence, with my partner, sipping fresh coffee. After maybe 20 to 30 minutes, I read a few paragraphs from a spiritual text, or a poem, from one tradition or another.
After these two paragraphs, again we enter the silence.
Such peace is found.
Jesus Christ spent much time in silence and in solitude. He knew the power of such times, letting the noise of the world drop away.
Then we become more clearly aware of the noise of the mind. But still we can find peace.
When we have noise in our inner world, it comes from the mind. We can make the mistake of believing it comes from our outer world. But it arises when we dwell on events of the past, or worry about the future. When we come to realise that both are not only beyond our control, but don’t even actually exist, we come to peace.
Even in this present moment, we can find peace, without dwelling on possibilities arising, which as close as a second away in the future, are still in the future, and completely imagined.
Let us not live in imagined worlds, but in the truth of the moment. Let us know in our hearts, what a miracle our life is.
Why is talking so much easier than listening? Why do we hide in the noise, when our heart calls us into silence?
As I look up from the keyboard, I am breathless at the moon and the stars. I gaze at them each day, yet always they are seen with fresh eyes.
Have you ever heard a shooting star? In the silence of a dark night, I have, it’s the most awesome thing.
If you’re seeking perfect silence, stop looking right now. Because no such thing exists. I have climbed many mountains, and not one of them is a soundless place.
Try Paulo Coelho’s listening exercise, to be found in his book, The Pilgrimage.
“What do you hear?” he asked me.
“Nothing. The silence.”
I meditate each day around this time, but today, this letter to you is my meditation. Life has become a meditation. But still, early each morning, I spend time in silent sitting.
At zendos, monasteries, chapels and ashrams around the world, people are rising at 3 or 4 am, because at this hour, there is some deeper sense of silence, inner, as well as outer.
On rising, they practice silent sitting, shikantaza. At monaseries and ashrams around the world, there are groups of people sat in the darkness right now, doing just this.
Doing? Nothing. Just being. Sitting. Silently.
Some are meditating, some are pursuing self inquiry, some are contemplating, some are praying. Some are simply sitting, in awareness. This is the ultimate silence.
Sit in silence. Don’t listen, just hear. Let the sounds wash over you. Let go further.
Just be the hearing.
Then, just let there be the sounds.
When there are only the sounds, where are you? Where have you gone? Were you actually there to begin with?
Jupiter and Venus are rising now, a strong presence in the sky. A cockerel crows. Then another, and another, echoing across the darkness. Tree rats rustle in the branches behind me. Soon, the dogs will join the chorus.
I remain silent. In this silence, I make a discovery.
I don’t exist.
But that’s a whole other article.