Monday, February 19, 2018



We recently talked about quiet, the cessation of vocal chatter. Now I would like to consider stillness.

        There is a difference between quiet and stillness. Quiet is the pausing of idle talk. Stillness, in the meditative sense, is being totally aware, and totally open to life.

        But being aware without numbing the senses.

        If you are going to close down your senses, why not reject your itching leg, or your aching shoulder, or your chilly fingers, or your wandering mind?

        Why not really close down and become a vegetable? A lump of nothing.

        Nothingness is possible, but is it desirable? Nothingness is the state of being a nonentity, the state of nonexistence of anything.

        Is that what meditation is about . . . nothingness?

        By separating ourselves entirely from hearing or smelling we open the way to something else, and then we start asking ourselves is this good or not. In Zen terms that kind of thinking is called duality, which refers to fragmentation of the mind.

        Picking and choosing and weighing thoughts         will cause meditation to fall apart.

Zen practice should be about being free, not about examining and analyzing.

Stillness helps to settle the mind and the body, and encourages the recognition of an inclusive view. Stillness allows everything to be perceived undisturbed in its entirety.

As an example, if you wanted to really know the relationships that exist within a forest, would you get together a horde of people and walk around in the woods socializing and pestering every wild animal and every tree?

Or would you walk alone in stillness, observing plants and birds and bugs, and letting each be itself?

Hui-Neng, the ancient Chinese Zen patriarch, referred to the “target practice” view in meditation when he said, “If you do not think of the myriad things but always cause your thoughts to settle down, you will understand the teaching of the Buddha.”

Zen Master Koban Chino once held an archery class and set the target up on the top of a seaside cliff. When a student would make a shot, Kobun did not discuss their stance, or their aim, or their technique.

He smiled and remained still.

Then when one student shot an arrow that flew far wide of the target and sailed off into the ocean, Koban laughed and shouted, “BULLSEYE.”

A Zen writer declared,

“It is a bias of our culture that stillness is regarded as lazy, as being stuck in inaction, as a negative. It’s not. It’s an action, and a powerful one. What’s more, it can change your day, and in doing so change your life.”

When you find a stillness within yourself, it spreads to the rest of your body, and to your mind. It focuses you on what you’re doing right now, not on all you have to do and all that has happened.


Lao Tzu said, “Through the return to simple living comes control of desires. In control of desires, stillness is attained. In stillness the world is restored.”


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