Sunday, December 28, 2008

Resting Quietly In Thoughtful Silence

Today we returned to more seasonal weather. Throughout the day it was about 30 degrees colder than it was yesterday. It's back to cold weather clothes although at the moment, sitting in my warm home, I am wearing my new tie dyed tee shirt, given to me as a Christmas present by my co-workers. Tomorrow, however, when I return to work for a few days, I will be wearing one of my new sweaters.

Here's another quote from Robert Thurman's introduction to Jack Kerouac's Wake Up...A Life of the Buddha.

Not by anxious use of outward means, had Buddha unveiled True Mind and ended suffering, but by resting quietly in thoughtful silence.

I am generally a quiet and passive person not given to bursts of assertion or confrontation. One of my coping strategies throughout life has been to simply wait things out. More often than not it has worked well for me. Although I would not normally attempt to push life along, I have sometimes attempted to give it a gentle shove through subtle means. In most cases it may have been better to heed the Buddha and "rest quietly in thoughtful silence". The way of the world is to run after life. The way of the contemplative is to let life come to you. I am not advocating total passivity here. The "action" of the contemplative is to be awake to the moment by moment arrival of life. Since I believe we humans have a natural tendency to be spiritually asleep, the wakefulness of the contemplative is a form of activism. Most people who think they know me might wonder, "Doesn't Michael already do this"? Certainly I present a calm and patient face to the world. On the inside, however, I am not always calm. My mind is active, my soul is restless, and I am not nearly as passive as I appear on the surface. Beneath the surface I am often fighting life and I don't spend near enough time "resting quietly in thoughtful silence". Perhaps in the new year that will soon appear I can focus more on my "inner quieting" and be more like the Buddha.

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