The silence of no thought
It speaks with increasing volume
Enticing me . . .
“Wanna figure it out?”
“Wanna live well?”
“Wanna die well?”
In this silence, the song rises in my heart again
And I am made new.
I was recently watching a program on PBS called “Excuses Be Gone” featuring Wayne Dyer. In it, he quotes Aristotle as saying:
“Contemplation is the highest form of activity.”
I so resonate with that statement! I am wired differently from what society, corporations and even churches applaud and hold up as good. “Idleness is the devil’s workshop” we were often told as kids. Certainly that was the message in the church and family in which I was raised. For me, the opposite is true.
The more “activity” I am involved in – the less I do – and the quality of anything that I do, and even the person I am, suffers greatly! It is in the silence of nothingness, in time, seemingly wasted – where great things are born within me. When I don’t take time to be, read, write, pray, listen to music – my life and work suffer. When I have, or take this time – despite great pressure not to do so – then my work finds life and creativity and I am a decent person to be around.
I find this is not very much appreciated either in society or the church. Produce! Produce! Produce! This is the message that most of us receive. It’s funny. I don’t find society, churches or countries any the better for all the incessant activity! Perhaps we would be wise to slow down, take stock. I recently heard these very words in a church, coming from a man who’s an unredeemed, angry workaholic whose toxic energy is oppressive to his staff and his church. He does a tremendous amount of work; but I don’t know of anyone (who really knows him) who looks up to him or actually wants to spend time with him. How sad. But I believe, like all addicts, he’s basically a good person at heart. Perhaps he just needs to slow down and take stock.
“Come to me, and I will refresh you.”
See Matthew 11: 28-30
Again we have this image of Divine refreshment, this call to rest. We see this repeatedly in the life of the Christ who took time to enter the silence to rest, pray and meditate. Throughout the centuries, spiritual teachers of various religions speak of the central importance of such spaces of time and place. However, our culture, and even some of our churches, do not honor such spaces of time. Our culture worships the god of productivity and action. Taking time to simply “be” is held in suspicion, and one who does so on a regular basis is thought to be lazy.
As a musician, writer and passionate speaker I find that the creative moment happens in the spaces of this desert time. It happens in the space of nothingness. It is this space that gives pregnancy to what would otherwise be a quite sterile place within. It is from this place that the inspiration of any song I sing, any talk I give or any article I write is given birth. This space is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to the creative process. Without it, I would manifest nothing of substance in my outer world. No song would be sung, no article written, no talk given with any modicum of inspiration.
Eckhart Tolle says this in his book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment: “All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness. The mind then gives form to the creative process or insight.” (p. 24). Even the Judeo-Christian creation stories speak of God creating everything “ex nihilo,” out of nothing.
We all need to honor the space of the desert. We will find that this “waste of time,“ as I have described it before, will give renewed energy to our work and creative pursuits. Not only that, it will give breath and life to our relationships. Anyone who has had a Partner for a number of years will attest to the need for psychic and physical space in the relationship in order to give it life and energy. As we take the time to enter silence we will ultimately discover that the desert space can be found within, no matter what is going on around us.