My silence, like an expanding sphere, spreads everywhere.
My silence spreads like a radio song, above, beneath, left and right, within and without.
Last Saturday was a beautiful, sunny day, and I was enjoying a walk alone through the quiet forest paths of Ananda Village. Suddenly, in a secluded area, I came upon one of our residents hard at work clearing underbrush—an essential job when you live in an area prone to forest fires. With his loppers (long-bladed hand shears), Ramdas was removing great quantities of Scotch broom, an invasive, highly flammable shrub.
“Thanks for doing this,” I said in appreciation for his volunteer service.
Ramdas looked up at me and simply said, “It’s so quiet and peaceful here.”
Up to that point, I’d been walking along silently, but my mind had been busy with an active flow of thoughts. Hearing his words, I tuned in to the quiet and peace that he was experiencing. It was deep and refreshing, and had been there all along, but my internal conversation had blocked it out. The silence remained with me for the rest of the walk.
A friend of mine, Premi, who teaches second grade at an Ananda Living Wisdom School, told me about an experience that her class had had with practicing silence. Returning to school to begin their second term, she’d invited the children to write down goals for the class and stick them on a “Tower of Will Power” that she had created. One very active boy with a magnetic personality surprised her by saying, “Let’s meditate for five minutes every day.”
The class had never meditated together, but everyone agreed to try it. Premi told them that they were free to stop at any time, but should remain quiet out of respect for the others. Sitting together in silence for five minutes every day began to change the class dynamics.
They decided they wanted to have a calmer lunch period with a tablecloth, plates, and a “calmness manager” who would ring a bell if things got too noisy. It proved unnecessary to ring the bell even once, Premi told me, even on the very first day, and they want to continue this lunchtime practice for the rest of the term.
Then they began learning about the life of Martin Luther King. During their studies, they saw a photo of his followers practicing nonviolent resistance in a racially segregated diner. People were pouring ketchup on their heads, trying to provoke them.
Later Premi asked her class, “What can we share at the school assembly to honor Dr. King and his followers?”
“We could meditate!” was the first thing out of someone’s mouth.
She asked them what they thought meditation had to do with Dr. King.
One student replied, “I feel calm when I meditate. Those people in the diner had to stay calm not to fight back.”
Another said, “I want the world to have more peace and less hate, and when you are quiet you feel more peaceful.”
“Love is inside you,” said a third student. “When I meditate and am quiet, I can see what’s inside me.”
All this from second-graders who are meditating for five minutes a day. My friends, touching the silence that permeates everything is one of the fruits of meditation. Through that silence God can come to us, and in reaching out to embrace it, our lives will be transformed.