Calm, Clarity and Compassion
– Jack Kornfield
If we want to act wisely in the world, the first step is to learn to quiet the mind. If our actions are born from grasping or fear, they will perpetuate the problems. Only when our own minds and hearts are peaceful can we expect peace to come through the actions we take.
To understand this integration of inner and outer, we can look at the life of Gandhi. Even during the most turbulent years, when he was dismantling the British Empire’s control of India, Gandhi spent one day a week in silence. No matter how pressing and urgent the political situation, the day he spent in silence allowed him to quiet his mind and listen to the purest intentions of his heart.
If you want to live a life of balance, start now. Turn off the news for a while, meditate, turn on some music, walk through the forest or the mountains and begin to make yourself a zone of peace. Let go of the latest story. Listen more deeply. When we react to insecurity with fear we worsen the problem—we create a frightened society. Instead we can use courage and compassion to respond calmly, with both prudent action and a fearless heart.
Your innermost sense of self, of who you are,
is inseparable from stillness.
Stillness is the I Am
that is deeper than name and form.
Empty Into Stillness
– Tarané Sayler
The beloved image of the Buddha is a beautiful embodiment of the essence of stillness. Statues of the Buddha inspire the deepest peace. And in many various artistic forms the Buddha is depicted seated in blissful stillness. This seated posture of stillness and contentment may be the same posture the Buddha held as a child sitting under the Rose Apple tree at his family home. As a young boy sitting under a tree he relaxed into a wonderful meditation that left a powerful lasting impression on him. Later in the Buddhas life, near the end of his search for awakening, after years of intellectual seeking and physical ascetic practices, he recalled that pleasurable and peaceful moment under the Rose Apple tree. This very recollection of “rapture and pleasure born of seclusion and withdrawal”, led to his break through to the path of awakening. This path of ever deeper and more subtle levels of stillness of mind that led him to clear vision, understanding and final release.
Quoting the Buddha (from MN 36)
““I thought: ‘I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities — I entered & remained in the first jhana [meditation state]: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening?’
Then following on that memory came the realization: ‘That is the path to Awakening.’ I thought: ‘So why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?’ I thought: ‘I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities,…”
In the Buddhists texts, The Buddha’s description of his awakening details how he moved through layers of finer states of “pleasurable feeling” meditation. He also explains that as these pleasurable feelings arose in this way, they were not identified with or clung to. With withdrawal and seclusion from unskillful mental qualities, these pleasant feelings naturally arise and passed away while leading to more and more subtle states of inner peace and stillness.
The Buddha uses the phrase below repeatedly to describe his experience of the “pleasant feeling” accompanying each progressive state.
“But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.”
The “Rose Apple Tree” pleasant state of stillness and contentment arises with withdrawal from sensual activity and emptying body and mind of disturbance. The pleasant feelings experienced as a result, naturally arises and passes away.
Guided Meditation: Empty Into Stillness
Please join this guided meditation live stream on Zoom.
Click the button on Homepage: “Guided Meditation: Empty Into Stillness” for the Zoom ink. Link active 1/2 hour before our Tuesday March 31, 7pm session starts.