March 4 , 2017
“The important thing in our understanding is to have a smooth, free-thinking way of observation. We have to think and to observe things without stagnation. We should accept things as they are without difficulty. Our mind should be soft and open enough to understand things as they are. When our thinking is soft, it is called imperturbable thinking. This kind of thinking is always testable. It is called mindfulness.”
– Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
“Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius.”
– Edward Gibbon
There are two ways to live life. Individuals can live in total awareness, like a newborn child who’s fully in tune and engaged with the full scale of their surroundings, which echoes wonder in every way shape or form. Or, on the other hand, we can live in unawareness, where we are so detached where even the simplest things get by us. This state is not unlike floating through life, like a leaf in the wind, letting life take you where it may. In contrast, the opposite of that is the fish that is aware of its environment, and will swim with the tide when it’s advantageous, but will immediately change course and go against the tide when life demands it.
When individuals lack awareness, really simple things get by their defenses. Examples of these are when we lose our keys, misplace our phone or the remote, forget an appointment, etc. Each of these circumstances shows our lack of being in tune with our environments, which stems from being out of sync with our inner self.
On the opposite side of that spectrum lies awareness.
Awareness is walking outside, and noticing the warmth of the sun as it seeps through your skin; breathing in and feeling a full breath of fresh air as it goes fully into your lungs and feeling the energy it gives you; hearing how the birds chirp down the street even though the sound of traffic strains to override it; sensing someone’s emotions on a deeper level, even though you’ve only had a moment’s notice to pay attention to them; or even sensing something on instincts which would drift by someone if they weren’t paying attention. All of these instances are felt deep down inside the individual, because they are aware. But perhaps, one of the best ways to realize your awareness is locked in, like an athlete in the zone, is by being able to hear the stillness in your mind – the silence; full solitude.
In the silence we are capable of ascertaining more. When the mind is cluttered, however, and filled to the brim, it is like a full cup of water, incapable of taking one more drop. Worse, when merely one more drop of water gets added to the cup, the critical point arises where that one drop helps dislodge more than a magnitude of the single drop that went in, not unlike the person who faces one problem and has it spiral out of control into many issues. Most of us including myself are probably familiar with these types of circumstances. That is why pumping the breaks is crucial before we get to the point of no return.
Slowing down from our proverbial warp speed is when we as individuals are capable of understanding more, when we retain the maximum efficiency of our capabilities since we are fully engaged. That very moment is when we are – as individuals – capable of functioning at a higher degree of understanding, a higher degree of knowing. And one of the highest degrees of knowing is that of the self – that of your inner-most being.
It’s in the silence that our answers reside, in the stillness of the vacuum – in the solitude of life.
But don’t believe any of this; in fact, strive to disbelieve. Seek your own answers – through every step of your life, throughout every breath, in full awareness, always.
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