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The place of rest


Shortly after waking up we can tell if we are centered, off-center or losing our way. Let’s pay attention to the rush there is in our actions. If you do things in haste we already know the extent of our estrangement from the heart. It is a very simple criterion that frees us from error. When we jump from one moment to the next very much in a hurry, or when we are already wishing to finish this and move on to the next thing… We moved towards the periphery of ourselves.

The closer we are to our center, the calmer it is and there lies a balance which is clarity. In the past, very tall towers were built on the top of high mountains, which were sheltered from storms because they were above the clouds. They were impregnable places and, although they were totally exposed, remained sheltered. Being there implied distance and an easy observation of the whole environment.

Living in the inner hermitage, in the spiritual heart, enables us to have the same thing. It is a capacity to realize the different facts that converge in the same event and at the same time, to maintain a certain distance from them. It opens up a space that allows us to breathe in every sense of the word and not be overwhelmed by the reactions that occur in the environment, in our minds and bodies.

Being established there feels fresh and does not imply effort in the sense that we usually use the word. Being there does not make you tired. Accessing that place where we are authentic pervades our days with meaning and makes us feel a sense of familiarity with grace. And it is this same familiarity that calls us back when we are absent due to distractions, habits or sheer inertia.

Very different methods are used to reach that depth of the soul and are suited to different people in each situation or at a particular moment. But to realize that the result of our actions does not depend on us but on the divine providence is very necessary. Without this conviction it becomes difficult to go to the place of true rest. If what is happening depends ultimately on us, we are carrying a very heavy burden on our backs that we cannot bear.

Once I was told: Did you make the sun rise today? Have you decided the direction the clouds will follow? Do you know already how many people will come to the world or will leave it at the end of the day? Well, no. Do you tell the heart when to beat, the diaphragm how to breathe, or the blood where it should circulate? No, you don’t. Go through your life and you will see that the person you are with, the place where you live, that job and those other circumstances have happened beyond your intention. In any case, an interaction that you cannot specify has taken place.

Sticking to our scope of activity, doing the best we can in every moment and situation is our field of action. And that small space of freedom appears when we allow the grace of attention become present in us. This vigilant attention needs relaxation, not contraction. And that relaxation arises when we are aware of our role in the work of creation. If we travel in one of the seats of the bus and behave as if we were the driver, we will feel embittered during our trip. We will complain that our course is not being followed and we will not understand what we are doing wrong.

The practice of Jesus’ prayer, for example, or other forms of prayer and meditation are intended to silence the mind. And this is because the mind is not the proper tool to guide our life. If we put the “crazy lady of the house” in charge we find ourselves with lives full of suffering and inconsistency. Let’s continue to talk about this in the days ahead if you like.

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Silence is alive

At this time of year it is usual to have new year’s resolutions and wishes, certain objectives or goals to be achieved arise… What can you tell me about this subject?

It is very common. When we are guided by the calendar we notice a change, a kind of new stage or opportunity to start over. It’s a bit like that notebook with blank pages I was telling you about, that taste we have for starting from scratch, that taste for writing skillfully and neatly. All these proposals for change, for improvement, for doing things differently, are very useful to each one according to their stage of the journey they’re at.

But I would say that the best purpose or goal is that which is achieved at the very moment we find ourselves in right now. Something that you have right now and that by its very nature cannot be lost. We all seek a stable peace and well-being that we intend to achieve in some future through this or that. However, that soft joy and serene contentment are right here and now and are independent of whatever is happening in our current perception, that is, what we observe in the world or in our mind.

Precisely this one who observes lives at the core of the spiritual heart in an environment of sonorous silence… It is an echoing silence because it is full. It is not the silence of a dead void, of inert things irreparably. It is a very living silence, as if it were a fresh and immaterial liquid or a living aroma that ripples everywhere.

How to get there?

It is precisely when you see it as something that is ” out there” or in the future that the essence of what we are talking about escapes you. You have to try to believe what I tell you and try, to take a sample in your own experience to see if what I tell you is true. As soon as you have a moment in the daily hustle and bustle of life, sit down for a moment where you are comfortable. Leave your body still for a few moments, without stiffness but more or less still. Ignore the countless fluctuations of the mind just for a few moments. Remain present and attend to the silence… It is like a space between sounds, an intangible something that you will nevertheless perceive. Or, if you prefer, attend to the space between things, to that “emptiness” that separates one object from another… I can’t tell you more… It’s something you notice or maybe not, it depends a lot on the willingness and dedication you put into that attention.

How can I tell if I have discovered what you are referring to?

Again you take the mind stance and from there, you try to grasp something that cannot be grasped or possessed because it is immaterial. But it is not the nothingness, but rather the whole of God’s subtle presence, or as I like to say: it is Christ embracing you. It is likely that you feel a gratitude emerging from your heart that has no object, you feel grateful for no reason. When we realize that in reality we are always involved in grace, feeling grateful seems the only thing to “do”. We discover that we are always protected, sheltered; the hidden helplessness by which we usually live disappears. What the psalmist said becomes our own truth, and some monks sing: “My refuge is in the Most High… my refuge is with the Most High…!

But it’s difficult, not because I sit still for a while and listen, I’m going to find what he says. I have taken similar attitudes but the mind prevailed and that made me feel uneasy.

It is possible. In that case, offer your restlessness and uneasiness to that God you seek and that you can’t find. Claim your right to discover the meaning of life, which is what line us up with His will. Claim with respect but vehemently your right to peace and meaning, to the access to the sacred. When that cry is deep, when you realize that it is the only thing you truly desire beyond all that you seek… You recognize in your very act of consecration and search that which you claim. Everything that happens has meaning, rest in it…