Quietness

J U L Y   2 0 1 8

Say you wake up one morning and notice that something is different about you. There’s a beautiful quietness inside your body that you haven’t felt before. It seems to emanate from the middle of your chest, a clear quietness opening from your heart area, filling the entire volume of your body. You sense how your skin envelopes this silence, but inwardly it seems to be without limit. The quietness disappears into the depths your body without coming to a boundary.

quietnessIt’s an unfamiliar feeling but not alarming; it has a peaceful and spacious quality to it. So you sit in a chair and allow the inward quietness to have its way with you. You notice that you can’t really stand outside of the quietness to look at it — it takes up the whole interior of your body. There’s no place for you to be except within the quietness and pervaded by it.

Your attention is drawn to the boundary of the quiet where it touches the inside of your skin. You feel how this inner silence defines the shape of your body. And then an extraordinary thing happens. The quietness within you seems to open right through your skin and expand outwardly, or perhaps it’s just the opposite: the quietness of space outside your body instantaneously meets the quietness you feel inside. You are within the quietness and simultaneously held by it. Encompassed.

Although it’s purely intimate with you, you sense the quietness also has a numinous feel of otherness to it. You are it while at the same time it’s infinitely beyond you. Your private experience as a sensate body and distinct person arises within it and is somehow an expression of its vast, silent, and indefinable presence.

As you sit there experiencing all this, you feel a great tenderness — the quiet that pervades you and encompasses you is alive with a kind of tender warmth, though not a warmth of temperature. It’s intimate and dear and tender and not even approachable by these words. You feel safe.

After some time you get up from your chair and begin to attend to the necessities of the morning. At first the presence of the boundless, intimate, and safe quiet is still palpable to you — it’s everywhere as you move around and as normal sounds and sensations occur. Its intimacy unites with the phenomena of the world around you — you are within everything while at the same time you remain your unique bodily experience.

The sense of tenderness pervades your awareness of the people and things you encounter. When you touch something, a button on your shirt, a piece of toast, a cup of coffee, your touch seems to come from the tender quiet you have recognized. When you listen to someone speaking, and when you speak, the words seem to come from and be held by the same tender quiet. The sense of safety makes you gentle and unhurried.

Later, when you realize the world’s noises and your own thoughts and feelings have obscured the all-pervading quiet, you start to feel annoyed with yourself and with the people around you for taking the quietness away.

That’s when a second extraordinary thing happens. As you notice your annoyance, you see it for what it is. You see it’s given you a position from which to complain. The moment you feel the constraint of that position, you experience yourself outside it, as if you no longer needed to care whether the quiet has been obscured or not. You relax. The feeling that you’re missing something falls away, and in that instant, glory be, the tender quietness opens from your heart again as if it never left.