At a recent lecture I gave on the subject of stillness, I was asked during the question and answer period what the ?practical application? of stillness was, and how it could be used in a meaningful way. ?I thought for a moment, and gave an answer that, upon reflection, was not much of one. I?d like to cure that in these few words, and offer what I wish I had said.
Who are you? ?What are you? Where did you come from? ?Where will you go? Why are you here? Are you and your mind the same?
Pretty basic existential questions, these six. ?They are common to all who pursue spiritual growth as a main purpose of life. ?We are all climbing the same mountain, if you will, just taking different paths to the top. ?But, climb we do, and climb we should.
We who engage in a Daoist Longevity Practice of daily qigong, taiji and meditation, believe that stillness is the way, the path. ?Our mud must settle, the waters above must become clear, and we must get out of our head. Our understanding of the interconnectedness of all things and everyone must become who we are, and all that we do must originate from and be informed by that understanding.
When that happens, our life changes. ?The past dissolves and we are no longer trapped in it; worry about the future dissolves because it has not yet happened. ?We are left only with the present moment, and we are free to fully engage it, unshackled from the past and not yet tethered to next week.
This is not to say we should forget the past, or not engage in some measure of planning for the future. ?We still must exist, of course, and some thought to tomorrow is necessary. Rather, it is to say we need to free ourselves from our past, forgive ourselves and others, so that we can be present in today; and, free ourselves from worrying about a tomorrow that has yet to take shape.
In the clarity of the water above the mud, what do we find? ?When we get out of our head and look inside for our answers, what do we see? ?
Emptiness, a blank canvas, waiting to be filled with the next stanza of our life?s poetry, only to be replaced with a new blank canvas arriving in the next moment. ?And so on, and so on.
What is the practical application of stillness? ?Life. One filled with compassion for everything and everyone with whom we are always connected, including ourselves. ?One filled with forgiveness toward everything and everyone with whom we are always connected, including ourselves. One filled with love for everything and everyone, including ourselves.
If it?s an action plan you are looking for from stillness, this is it. ?Not the acquisition of riches, or a fancy car or home, or luxurious ?stuff.? ?A richer spiritual life is the action plan. Answers to your existential questions are there to be found.
The question itself, though, comes from the mind. ?The most important questions come from the soul. My advice is to get out of your head. ?Or, as Laotzu wrote in the Dao de Ching, Chapter 20:
?Stop thinking, and end your problems.”
That?s how I wish I had answered the question. ?