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The Subtle Sound of Stillness

3 November 2010

Recently I asked the congregation to recall a place where we experience the subtle sound of stillness. Each of us has a place where we are able to experience the sound of stillness, whether it be the outback, the Australian bush, a Chapel, an old ruin, our own sitting room listening to a beautiful piece of music, or perhaps being in the presence of a sleeping child. The truth we all know is that the place or the context is not the stillness. What we are touching is our deep interior stillness. The stillness we are experiencing is with us all the time, ever present, in us. The context of the experience is that we are attending to what is in us. The Music, the space, the place, whatever or wherever we may be simply has created the possibility for us to attend to that stillness.

These moments of experiencing our interior stillness are part of our sacred story. They are prayers of the spirit, and not of words but of a deep truth and knowing that reached far beyond opinions, concepts and constructs of the intellect. These moments are not subject to Theological dogma. The wonderful thing about this subtle sound of stillness is that it orientates us to be aware of what is. When we are attending to our interior stillness we notice the colour of the flowers or the beauty of the nature around us. We notice the peaceful face of a sleeping child or the wondrous exploration of the infant. We become aware of the world in a renewed way and we feel our self as present in it. And we sense the wonder and miracle of our human nature, and we glimpse something of our true self.

I believe that to experience interior stillness is an experience of God. I have expressed in recent Sunday morning talks that God is the emptiness, the no-thing, in which life happens, in which all things live and move and have their being. When I speak of God I am not speaking of a being, in the same way that you or I are beings. The Word ‘God’ itself actually is the way of saying we have no idea what we are talking about. The ground of being, the source of life, the ultimate reality, is actually the unnameable one. We know that the one time in the bible when God’s name is asked for the reply is; “I will be who I will be”, or one of the variations of translation. So when I speak of God I am actually directing my attention beyond myself, and not making a definitive statement about some God out there that I think exists and an idea to which I have become attached.

When we are orientated to our interior stillness, we are open to discovering the depths of the flow of life that comes to us, lives in us, is expressed in us. The interior stillness is the place of the spirit that unites the I, the conscious self with God, the unfathomable mystery from which the self comes and to which the self is related. To attend to our interior silence is not an intellectual exercise, is not to get caught up in imagination, or concepts about some God that may or may not exist. It is simply to be attentive to what is, and to allow what is to be lived in us, and to be present to it.

Words are important, they are the symbols and notions through which we try and communicate in a concrete way what is experienced. But the notions, the images, the symbols are not the reality itself. It is in the interior stillness where we are present to the fullness of life, the whole universe, the manifestation of the unnameable one in life. I encourage you to continue to find your places and moments when you can be orientated to the subtle sound of stillness, your interior stillness which orientates you and I to the fullness of life in which we live and move and have our being.



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