A fish jumps over a quarter mile away, but it sounds like it’s right in front of me. There’s not the slightest breeze, and not a needle in the pines around the little lake so much as twitches. The reservoir is a polished mirror reflecting the trees and the self, amplifying the silence, and dissolving self and thought.
The place looks a little moonscapish with the reservoir so low, exposing stumps strewn along barren banks from when the lake was made. The caretaker of the refuge, which serves as both water source and recreational area for the mountain community, said the reservoir is lower than he’s seen it in 30 years.
Today it’s so quiet that you can talk to someone across the inlets in a normal voice, some 300 meters away. The silence is palpable, and it affects people in different ways.
A family of five chatterboxes can’t stop verbalizing, shouting, yapping and singing. The silence of the place is something they must fill with the noise of their minds, lest they lose their grip on words and become what they and we all are: Nothing (no thing) in the silence of being.
One of the boys yells at someone across the lake, and keeps yelling “Hey! Hi! Can you hear me?” until the man finally responds firmly but without rancor, “Quiet please.”
A shout seems like violence here; spoken words like a shout. And after half an hour, a thought seems like a sacrilege.
Across the nearest inlet, a boy and his mother approach on bikes. “C’mon mom, you can make it. If I can make it you can make it.” His voice echoes across the water, and reverberates with affection within one.
When one inwardly dies to the observer and time, one feels, in a place like this, that one could literally and happily die at this moment. Without a whisper of fear, one feels the actuality of death, which is all around and within us every moment, and which is also the door to the infinite dimension of creation.
Creation did not just begin 14.7 billion years ago with the Big Bang, and the universe ever since running down like an infinitely huge clock. Creation is happening every moment.
Can only the human brain bring the sacred on this planet? What does it mean to bring the benediction?
Beyond all religions and belief, experiences and knowledge, there is something unnamable, unapproachable and unimaginable. I don’t like the word ‘God,’ since it connotes a supreme being, whereas the experiencing of essence has nothing to do with entities of any kind, corporeal or incorporeal.
At the most basic level, it begins with the awareness of wholeness and beauty in the attentive quieting of the mind-as-thought. Symbolic thought is separative and partial, as is knowledge of any kind.
Thought is comprised of words, memories and associations, as well as the experiential knowledge we live by and the codified knowledge (as science and technology) we interact and dominate the planet with.
‘Higher thought’ is an extremely powerful adaptation, the most powerful nature has ever evolved, but it is essentially functional. It can be rational or irrational, and science is its most rational and useful expression. But science, being an outgrowth of thought, can never bring the sacred, and has to be temporarily set aside for experiencing to be.
Experience is of the past, whereas experiencing is of the present. All goals, previous experiences (a redundancy to my mind), memories and ideas about the sacred have to end for experiencing it in the present to occur. Can an ordinary person do that on a regular basis? I’m sure of it, since I am one.
Does the benediction require the neural capacity of brains possessing symbolic thought, which then has to fall silent in attention for it to be? Apparently so, and that’s the essential paradox of spiritual evolution in the cosmos.
I doubt very much that even the smartest animals on the planet other than humans (Orcas, bonobos and elephants for example), have the capacity to awaken meditative states of consciousness. (Saying that they live in a state of meditation is really saying nothing.)
Suddenly the feeling of stillness, color, silence, mystery, sacredness and love begin to pulsate inside and outside, without even separation as inside and outside. This little man-made lake is an Arecibo of the sacred, reflecting and amplifying the silence of the universe to the human being willing and able to be still.
In fact, the fully awakened human brain is itself an Arecibo of the sacred! One only has to take the time to be deeply alone, and playfully observe and question the mind into silence.
Initially, the benediction seems to require both unspoiled, quiet places, as well as a self-knowing, silent brain. But the self-knowing, silent brain can bring the benediction anywhere, and must. It is what it means to be a human being. And human consciousness and the world most urgently need that most of all.