To cultivate stillness, we sit, we breath, we let thoughts drop off and dissolve. We hear the bird chirp. We feel the rumble of the truck as it passes by our home moving snow to the side of the road. ?We breath again.
What could be more simple? To sit, to breath. And yet, there is always a reason why we can?t, or don?t. ?Too busy. I want to, but I?m too busy.? I say ?No, you don?t want to. When it becomes important enough to you, you will find the time.?
What is your stillness worth to you?
Laozi wrote in the Dao de Qing:
?We shape clay into a pot,
But it is the emptiness inside
That holds whatever we want.
We hammer wood for a house,
But it is the inner space
That makes it livable.?
It is not necessary to climb a mountain and live in a cave to find stillness. Yes, monks have done this for centuries, but the practice began more as a way to avoid the Emperor?s soldiers who were looking to kill them. Yes, they found stillness in their caves. But the stillness did not come from the cave. It was not the emptiness of the cave that showed them ?The Way,? the Great Dao.
?We work with being,
But non-being is what we use.?
Emptiness . . . non-being . . . what do these things mean? Don?t know. When we sit still, doing nothing, focusing on our breath, letting thoughts drop off, what do we learn? Don?t know. Interestingly, ?don?t know? is what Zen Master Seung Sahn, founder of the Providence Zen Center, taught. Simply, ?Don?t know.? Maintain a ?don?t know? mind, a before thinking mind, and simply act. When you chop vegetables, just chop vegetables. When you drive, just drive. Be present, fully present, in whatever you are doing, and be nowhere else.
Strip away your thoughts, and just be, or as Laozi wrote in Chapter 20, ?Stop thinking and end your problems.? Simply observe yourself, detach.
It is the emptiness inside we use. The emptiness. ?But, Teacher, I have my beliefs, my values. I?m not empty.? And I say ?Do you have the same beliefs you held so dear to you in your youth? After all, they were only beliefs. What will you believe tomorrow??
The stillness we seek is the emptiness inside. The emptiness can be found, can be observed, only when we have stilled ourselves. In that stillness we can find clarity. Clarity in the moment, fully aware, fully engaged, greeting it with the response most appropriate to it. Absent that stillness, how can we see each moment, see life, see the universe, as it truly is? If we can?t see what truly is, how can our response be appropriate?
This clarity can result only from the cultivation of stillness. We sit, we breath, we let thoughts drop off. Simple. And when it becomes important enough to you, you will find the time.