The Eternal Search for Stillness

‘Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself’.

 Hermann Hesse

Stillness is something that most of us yearn for, and very few experience regularly in adulthood. Yet it is quite the opposite in childhood. Most children can occupy themselves for hours with very few or no resources at all and seem in a perfect state of tranquility. When those moments of quiet stillness arise later in life, it is often a reminder of those delicate days of innocence accompanied with a desire to return once again to that state. Thus, it is through a gentle understanding of the Three Principles that we may return more frequently to a sense of inner peace and stillness, without the need for any external stimuli at all.

When I was a small child I used to love to play outside, anywhere outside, but one of my absolute favourite spots was a boggy wasteland; huge tufts of gigantic grass like a forest, pathways leading between vast monoliths of fallen trees and rocks. It was a playden from the gods, and I was in their heaven every time I went there. Climbing up things, jumping off others, endless hours (or so it would seem) of wondering, curious of the things I saw, life unfolding before my very eyes. I lived in an eternal space of stillness. 

Often our wisdom guides us to spend time outside in green spaces. This is because nature is nourishing for the body, beautiful to look at and therefore sometimes serves as a catalyst to remind us of our own beauty and inner tranquility. Ultimately nature is a reflection of our own soul and as such we carry this stillness with us everywhere we go. And it is only our own busyness of mind that covers over this exquisite sense of the beauty of being, and all that is dazzling and alluring in the world.

It was only when I first heard about the Three Principles that it all fitted into place, like a perfectly completed puzzle. I suddenly realised that stillness, that wonderful childlike state of fascination and wonder at the world, was hiding just below the surface of every waking moment. Yet it is only in those moments that I am aware enough to feel it, that it appears, as if by magic waiting to be enjoyed.

When we get temporarily lost in thought, and our personal thinking has covered over our wisdom, we are also lost to the world because we cease to see its beauty. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge so clearly expresses in his poem Dejection: An Ode:

‘And those thin clouds above, in flakes and bars,
That give away their motion to the stars;
Those stars, that glide behind them or between,
Now sparkling, now bedimmed, but always seen:
Yon crescent Moon, as fixed as if it grew
In its own cloudless, starless lake of blue;
I see them all so excellently fair,
I see, not feel, how beautiful they are!’

We can search our entire lives for the stillness we so desire and we will never find it, because we are that very stillness we seek, that is, without our personal thinking creating a disturbance in our mind, like a rock thrown into a still pond.

Personal thinking is made up of all the words in the world that we currently carry in our individual vocabulary. Universal Thought is as silent as the desert at night, when all we can feel is the magic of the twinkling of the stars, which is why it always comes with a good feeling.

So we might like to stop and pause for a while and let that feeling of stillness return from where it has been hiding, just below the surface of our present thought.

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