Zen

Learning from Stillness

T.S.Eliot was not influenced by Buddhist teachings as far as I’m aware, but in this verse from the ‘Four Quartets’ he captures something that to me feels very alive with the Dharma. He talks of ‘the still point of the turning world’ – a place of pause where we might find ourselves spun out of the dance for a moment. It might be a place we recognise from our own experience – climbing a hilltop, finding ourselves alone by the sea, a place where just for a moment the world doesn’t press on us so strongly. It might be an involuntary pause – sometimes illness or loss forces us to a different pace. It might be a place we seek out. There is something different to be found there. Meditation is for me one such still point. We can sit with different aims, which are appropriate at different times in our practice. It might be the right thing simply to be learning to practice, finding out what it’s like. We may want to be calm, have a refuge from a busy or difficult life. We may be exploring deeper meditative states, the ‘dhyanas’. We may be using it as a basis for insight practice, observing, even enquiring about our experience. For me, answering the question why I sit has become simpler over the years. I ask less and less of my practice and I’m learning simply to let it be. It is a space where craving and aversion are given a chance to fade away, or to play out their dance in their own time. Here I can let... Read more