As I continue “Just Sitting” – my Zazen practice – I remain intrigued by what it’s doing, yet at the same time trying to be unattached from expectation that anything will come of it. This simple (and not so simple!) opening of the body, spirit and mind connects us directly to Source Energy, God, Spirit and when you think about it, that’s freak’n amazing!! I find myself more aware, looking to see what this silence will bring.
Most of the time I find it difficult not to think, and simply concentrate on my breathing. The mind, the ego will not easily shut up. It does NOT want to give up control! Yet, what a relief it is to stop the incessant chatter within! I can only imagine what this must do to the brain. I can’t help but believe that in the process of this silence of the mind, the brain is literally making new connections. I am convinced that in this silence I am more lined up with Source, and Divine will becomes my will. In this silence the ego is shut up and I somehow feel more directly connected to God – I let go of control. I get out of the way. Maybe that’s what “let go, and let God” means. Normally when I give up control, I find myself, at least apprehensive, if not downright fearful. Yet as a result of this silence I find myself looking forward in hopeful expectation to see what will unfold in my life – and that of the world (because it‘s not just about my life, but affecting the world). Instead of a problem to be solved, life is becoming a Mystery to be lived. I look forward to the journey!
The other day I was made aware of a movie called “Into Great Silence.” It is a documentary film directed by Phillip Groning which portrays the lives of the Carthusian Monks of the Grande Charteuse Monastery high in the French Alps. It’s known to be one of the most austere monasteries. I imagine that many people might be bored out of their minds by this movie, as it definitely takes one “into great silence,” as its title suggests. The movie is around two and a half hours long and most of it is silence. It simply shows the monks in their day to day lives – without offering commentary or explanation. These monks do not talk, except when they are in common prayer and once a week after a meal on Sundays. So it’s quiet! Disturbingly so! Yet, . . . Refreshingly so. Talk about counter-cultural!
After watching this movie I wondered how much we may all be seduced away from the silence by the incessant, and sometimes, unnoticeable noise all around us. I wonder if all the noise that surrounds us, or that we choose to be surrounded by – lulls us into a dull sense of living, and ultimately – in our society – a crisis of meaning.
When I enter into the silence, which is initially disturbing, I am lead to a greater sense of myself, a more peaceful place and, in the process, I become a more compassionate presence in the world. It is nothing short of hard work to stay with silence, but I am becoming more and more conscious of the tremendous difference it makes in my life and work. I feel as if I am slowly being seduced by it. In entering the silence I give up control to a Higher Power, which is initially disturbing. But now I am intrigued by it, curious and interested to see what happens. And something is happening. I don’t quite know what it is, but I know it’s good.
“They that hope in God will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.”
Tired of trying to do it all yourself?
When I look back on my life I see that I am most happy when I have surrendered to a Power greater than myself, when I have stopped trying to control my life or someone else’s. I quickly get insane when I try to control or when I cling to another. When I let go and allow a Power greater than myself to take care of that person I’m worried about, or those things within my own life about which I’m concerned, then life takes on a much more peaceful feel.
So how can I let go? How can I surrender? Ask this Power to direct my thinking. Talk out my actions and motivations with trusted people. Then simply just put one foot in front of the other and do the next right thing. That usually does it for me.
It is when I am doing these things that my energy begins to increase and I find myself a much happier person, running and not growing weary!
This morning I was reading a bit of Marianne Williamson’s book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, which a friend recently gave me. I was reading a section on surrender and I came across a teaching on how to pray, how to ask for what we want. It really struck me. This is what she says: “Instead of, ‘Dear God, please let us fall in love, or please give me this job,’ we say ‘Dear God, my desire, my priority is inner peace. I want the experience of love. I don’t know what would bring that to me. I leave the results of this situation in your hands. I trust your will. May your will be done. Amen.’”
Do you feel the sense of surrender in such a prayer? It’s almost a relief. Instead of asking for this and that, which entails clinging to this or that, the “desire,” the “priority” is living in peace and love – period. How it happens is given to the Universe to work out.
What a great teaching to have in our mind when we have a choice to make. In anything that we do, we could ask the question: “Is what I’m about to do going to help faciliate living in peace and love?” Or is it just immediate gratification?
This morning as I meditated I felt a sense of surrender. My thoughts and my prayer were not centered so much in what I want or need, but in how I could be an expression of the Divine.
So often our prayer can be about what we want or need in life. Ultimately we are an expression of the Eternal or Unmanifested spoken into form. If I am an expression of the Divine, perhaps my emphasis in prayer should be more on how the Divine wants to express itself in my life, rather than how and what I (read – the ego) want the Divine to do in and for me.
It feels good to surrender, to be taken, to allow oneself to enter an adventure – to walk into the unknown, to be lead. There is a sense of ease about surrender. Instead of the work involved in trying to arrange my life as I want it, there is an ease about surrendering and allowing myself to be lead.
The synchronicity of things amazes me sometimes. Just as this sense of surrender was emerging from within, I read this passage in my morning prayer: “We must let ourselves be plowed so that the furrows of our person become deeper and deeper, so that our earth becomes softer and softer” (Jean-Marie Howe, Cistercian Monastic Life/Vows: A Vision, p. 367). Perhaps it is in surrender that I become a softer person and, conversely, perhaps its in running and trying to arrange it all myself that I become hardened.
Perhaps today we could think more about what the Divine wants to do in us, rather than what we want out of the Divine.