Have you ever watched a mother hold her new child, or seen a doe gently nuzzle her fawn as it stood there balancing on uncertain legs? Did you ever stand outside in the still air washed clean by the passage of a spring storm, or feel yourself moved by the sight of tall trees swaying in a summer's breeze? Maybe your imagination has been caught and held still as you stood looking out over a rugged seacoast, or you've found your attention willingly arrested by some late-afternoon light whose colors made heaven seem not so far away.
All moments like these share a quality of quietness that is timeless, even as they whisper these traits to us in the perfectly present Now. And for those of us fortunate enough to hear these secrets, we know that more is gleaned from them than words may portray. Reasons for this truth abound, but one rises above the rest: the silence of such stillness is golden because it is uncorrupted; its quiet presence within us enlarges us because through our communion with it we are entered into a relationship with the peace of a vital Now beyond the reach of time. With these thoughts in mind, let me introduce you to a living stillness that dwells in the secret heart of you.
Some time ago, books with "magic" pictures in them became a popular fad. Each book was filled with page after page of complex, colorful, computer-generated graphics. The claim of the publisher was that if one knew the "secret way of seeing" then he or she would be able to see into the magic pictures and discover secret images hidden in them. A visual treasure hunt! Who could resist?
Upon first glance, the pictures were nothing more than a mad mishmash--drawings filled with diverse colors and a collision of designs that looked like they were created by a child run wild with crayons. However, if viewers could focus their eyes in a certain way and then hold them in the right place on the page before them, the confusion of crazy colors would somehow fade away to reveal a beautiful 3-D image hidden within them in plain sight! The magic in these pictures was that one could not hope to see the magic in them using one's usual way of seeing.
Just as the amazing pictures in these magic books would seemingly appear from the depths of nowhere once one learned the secret of seeing through the chaos of colors, so too the peace of the perfectly present moment, in which dwells the kingdom of heaven, sits in plain sight in the midst of the chaotic content of our lives.
This full peace, which we might also call stillness or perfect silence, is what our heart of hearts longs to know. Within it there is neither stress nor sorrow. Yet, while most of us agree we seek a way to comingle in the life of this deep quiet, its timeless realm remains all but imperceptible to us. Here is the reason why: it is a curious spiritual fact that we don't see stillness, even though it acts as the backdrop for all motion.
Of course, we can see things themselves, various creatures, even one's own thoughts and feelings moving across and through this still backdrop of life. And yet the condition we remain effectively blind to is this: if it weren't for the invisible backdrop of perfect stillness, of pure peace, we would not see any of these forms in the manner that we do!
Much in the same way as the screen in the theatre makes it possible for us to see the action-packed motions of a movie, it is an unseen stillness that reveals what we experience as being the ceaseless movement of life.
With this insight in mind, can we recognize how unaware we are at present of this abiding stillness in which we ourselves move and live? Furthermore, can we see that it's not that this stillness isn't there--it is! The fact is, it is we, ourselves, who are not present to this unchanging presence! This is a helpful discovery for us to make. Through it, we are able to see that everything that concerns our relationship with fundamental peace depends upon where we place and hold our attention from moment to moment.
At this stage of soul development, we are fairly well caught in the up and down motions of life. So distracted are we by these cycles of pleasure and pain that few of us are aware of the perfectly still kingdom through which our lives and their events run their daily course. These findings not only speak for themselves, but they also hint to us of another way to live, and such wisdom is the voice of the very peace we seek.
All through the ages the Wise Ones have spoken of an invisible kingdom--a timeless ground known as the Now--that will confer to those who realize it a peace that surpasses all understanding. But what should be apparent from our study is that this peaceful kingdom is not really hidden; its quiet reality awaits us just out of sight of our present understanding, which further explains why there is no substitute for higher self-knowledge. If there's one great spiritual lesson it's this: we see everything about this life of ours through the eyes of our understanding of it, and the further this kind of seeing goes, the deeper runs one's being.