Tuesday, January 7, 2014


I have been continuing my very slow read of Reflections on Silver River (see earlier entries and review).  I got stuck for several days on the "three poisons," attraction, aversion and indifference, and devoted several of my morning meditations to a contemplation of their effects and affects.  If I did not write about them, it may be because I reached the limit of my willingness to share the some of the most intimate of my vices!

But I did find consolation in the passage on silence (Verse 3--see how far I've got?!) Ken writes, in his commentary:
How do you find your path?
In silence.
How do you practice silence?
You listen.
As always, incredibly simple and incredibly hard.  I discovered, on digging into this, that there's a difference between silence and silence.  I noticed, when trying to find it, that physical silence, the absence of sound, is virtually impossible to experience.  The stairs creak, the dog snores, the water heater starts up, the cable box emits a barely distinguishable buzz...

But I fairly soon came to realize that this is not the silence he's talking about.  It's possible, in meditation, with the aid of the breath and as much unwavering, attentive listening as I can muster, to reach through all the noise to a different kind of silence, a deep internal space that can be as unnerving as the "nothing" I see when I look with the same kind of attention.  Listening, the aural equivalent to looking, proves to be as hard to do--and equally rewarding for the effort.

I also particularly liked this instruction: "Arrange your life to reduce choice and unnecessary decisions.  Refrain from taking on too many projects at one time.  [...] create the conditions so that you do not have to be reacting to a steady stream of disturbances."  I have yet to learn to do this!

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