A friend read my book and decided to try something out. Whilst reading, he had come across repeated encouragements to be quiet and just listen or observe what happens. He decided to give it a go. In a familiar environment, among friends with whom he would normally engage comfortably and confidently, he decided to shut up and listen. Resisting the pull to get involved, and without the distraction of interaction, he saw others’ behaviour more clearly. They were so wrapped up in their own stories, for example, that no-one even noticed he was quieter than usual.
The same is true of ourselves. We are usually so preoccupied with the world around us – the world of the senses – that we don’t even realise what we’re doing half the time. We are pulled inevitably into responding and interacting; our automatic pilot handed the responsibility of getting us through the day so that we don’t have to spend precious energy responding manually.
Convinced that this is all there is, we run on habit; patterns of behaviour which have been honed over the years to an unconscious level. They are so ingrained and familiar that we allow ourselves to be defined by them. We mistakenly assume that who we are is how we behave, what we believe, and how we project ourselves into the world. In doing so, we repeatedly tell our story, becoming more and more wrapped up in it, to the exclusion of all else.
Fascinatingly, all the time this is happening, there is a quiet place within. Always there. Perceiving everything, but saying nothing. From the depths of existence it sees all, but itself remains unseen because we are busy on the surface. Whilst writing this post, I happened to read the piece ‘Complete Commitment’, in which Karaj told me that the quieter I become, the more insight I will have, and that quietness is where my commitment needs to be. A timely reminder. Be quiet. Quieten the self. Reduce the noise to the point where you can hear the silence. In the silence, all that is superficial falls away and the truth is revealed.