Forest Sangha Newsletter July 1989

Gratitude to Ajahn Chah; Jayasaro Bhikkhu
Image of the Dhamma; Sister Viveka
Living in the World with Dhamma; Ajahn Chah
Part of the Lineage: pt.I; Aj. Sucitto interviews Aj. Jagaro
What is the Devon Vihara? Supanno & Pasadaka
Out on a Limb; Venerable Kovido
Lineage is more than History; Ajahn Sucitto

Question Time; Aj Sumedho
Allowing Silence; Aj Sucitto

Allowing Silence
A talk give by Ajahn Sucitto as part of a meditation situation at Cittaviveka.

As we mature, there is an inclination, at times even a yearning, towards a place of silence where we will realize peace and harmony. The inner focusing of meditation, its direction towards calm and balance, seems to offer a means by which to enter silence, albeit through the patience and effort worthy of a saint. And it requires wisdom: with time one recognizes the need to be wise about the means, because beyond the techniques, meditation is a learning to listen deeply without bias or hesitation. Its fullest blossoming has to be cultivated, not through technique, but through living with a bright mind. Then we are moving towards harmony with everything.

We learn to listen to everything: and our own personal "everything" will always include unresolved thoughts and feelings that we don't want to hear. A meditator soon witnesses the power of the resistances and preferences that the mind makes. In that colourful surge of impulse, thoughts, and feelings, our life as a mortal being is defined, confined and finally snuffed out: the unawakened being dies submerged in it. That compulsive tide is birth-and death, and it seems to stand in the way of peace and stillness.

"I" - the stream of personal experiences as it passes this moment - am meditated upon by an unlimited and benevolent silence.

But how to get beyond the sound and the fury? The practice of meditation is pure listening; and that listening has to be deepened by trust. We have to allow ourselves to be aware of our pain, our darkness, and our unfulfilled yearning, as well as our brilliance and our serenity. Such an awareness has to be allowed rather than forged through idealism, because whatever we create time will wear down. Only an awakened trust brings forth what cannot be consciously created - the boundless heart. that transcends our personal limitations. This is not inertia, but selfless response, the action of the uncreated, and it allows us to discover that the compulsions and certainties of the mind are impermanent and therefore ephemeral gestures. They are all the echoes of the habit of grasping, no real being at all.
So who meditates?

In that allowing, "I" give up all claim to attainment, salvation and damnation, and have no place or definition. "I" - the stream of personal experiences as it passes this moment - am meditated upon by an unlimited and benevolent silence. It is there at the beginning and ending of every thought and mood and happening - if I ease into allowing myself a little more time and patience to realize it. "My" worlds my heavens and hells and mundane realities are enacted in the theatre of the uncreated; I don't run this show after all.

If I allow myself, I begin to hear and trust in the silence around sound, the silence that does not conceive or create, or destroy. It roars in different modes: a deep Pulse, or a higher steady tone, or an oscillating whisper like the murmuring of a billowing cloud. It embraces and suffuses all sounds, internal or external, and its mood is one of attention with no goal and no - stress. So the silence reveals itself as the mind's real home, and it is reached through being silently attentive to those endless wanderings of birth - and - death.

The silence that embraces rather than resists sound has a healing touch. You can listen to the silence around anxiety or sorrow, and it will bless - you with serenity. It will remind you again, because our memories are shaky - that life has darkness as well as light, and is a process of change. Trying to find lasting comfort in the restless cycles of birth-and-death is the disease of the unawakened will.

We have minds that can embrace failure and despair; that can sweep out to the vastness of the stars, or home in on an itch on our nose; that can create the most heart - stirring idealism, or the Most demonic brutality. We have minds that can travel through all phenomena. And most wonderfully we have minds that can hear the silence that goes beyond all phenomena. Hearing that, we realize the wholeness and boundlessness of our being, rather than become deluded by any passing form that it takes.