Monday, December 22, 2008

Learning To Be Quiet

You need not do anything. Remain sitting at your table (or on your rock) and listen. You need not even listen, just wait. You need not even wait, just learn to be quiet, still and solitary. And the world will freely offer itself to you unmasked. It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

-Franz Kafka from his poem, "Learn to Be Quiet."

I like to believe that I know the value of silence yet I continually subject myself to noise, whether it be music or television or talking. When I am at the monastery I welcome the silence. When I am at home I seem to avoid it. Why is that? The silence at the monastery seems to be full and lacking nothing. The silence at home seems to be empty and in need of something to fill it up. In the silence of the monastery there seems to be nothing to hide from. My friends the monks may disagree with me on this statement. On the other hand, the silence of home can seem deafening. Maybe I am scared of this silence and want to hide from it. Perhaps in my noise I hope I am not seen. What am I hiding from?

It is still cold. At this moment it is 19 degrees. My mind drifts to a warm day last spring when I sat on a rock and all was well. The sun was shining but I was bathed in the shade of trees that no man had planted. They were here before we were.

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