I did not begin to write immediately this morning. Instead I waited for a few moments to find the silence, the source from which all our creativity springs.
How long did God wait in the silence before issuing the first creative instruction, ‘Let there be light’? The question is, of course, unanswerable even if you believe in God, for before the first statement that spoke the suns and worlds into being, there was no time. Nothing to measure and nothing to be measured by. No lifetimes to tick away, heartbeat by heartbeat. No pendulums, no sundials, no knotted rope training out behind the vessel to account its speed. No was and no will be. Only is-ing.
When I start to meditate, I first adopt a comfortable posture, then focus my attention on my body: my feet, my arms, my legs etc. Then on those sensations that enable me to know I have a body - pressure, temperature, vibration, movement, until the presumption of body evaporates and all that remains is the sensation.
And then breathing in particular. Of all the sensations, breathing is the one that is ever and always with us for as long as we inhabit our bodies. I do not reach out to grab that sense. I do not try to control my breath. Instead I simply wait for the sense of it to come to me, maintaining awareness of how it is. Not concerned with whether it is fast or slow, deep or shallow, comfortable or uncomfortable. Not trying to change it. I am just aware of the breath being drawn in without my command, released without my permission.
Then comes that moment when it pauses. The out breath is finished, the in breath not yet needed and not yet arrived. And in that pause, if I allow my attention to pause with the pause, the stillness. The is-ness.
I am relatively new to this: three years up a learning curve that others tell me can take decades to appreciate and yield to fully; mere toddler in the cloisters of spirit. So as yet my attention typically does not remain on the stillness for very long before a distraction sets in. Then the temptation is to struggle to maintain the awareness – which of course is the exact opposite of what is needed. Instead, what is called for is patience. To return without judgement, letting any frustration evaporate. Simply to return to the silence, the stillness. And here, in this space, even for one so new to the process as I, sometimes the clouds part and the vast empty sky shows itself. And at that moment, the space in me acknowledges its same-ness with the emptiness I find. There, in that union, is where I discover that all else is illusion, that all else has arisen from the silence and will return to the silence.
All those matters with which I become so easily fixated. My activities, my priorities, my hopes and aspirations, my frustrations with my circumstances, my disparity with my habit patterns. All that makes me suffer, all that makes me sad. All of it springs from an ill-formed preoccupation with a that which will evaporate back into the silence - like an out breath that lingers on the moment and then is gone as if it never had been, releasing with it my concern, my preoccupation, my anxiety, my ego, myself.
And after untold eons of silence the emptiness speaks again:
‘Let there be light.’