5th December, 2022
Cynthia Bourgeault, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening (Cowley Publications, 2004), 16.
Image: Kimberley, from monstersonabike.blogspot.com, 20th Oct 2011
The short quote in the image above is taken from the text below by Cynthia Bourgeault, from pages 10, 11 and 15-17 of the book, which you can read more about here.
'Why is intentional silence so important? ... Our ordinary awareness rests on the self-reflexive capacity of the human mind. Another name for "ordinary awareness" is "egoic thinking". It is the normal functioning zone of the human mind. … The person I normally take myself to be — that busy, anxious little "I" so preoccupied with its goals, fears, desires and issues — is never even remotely the whole of who I am, and to seek the fulfilment of my life on this level means to miss out on the bigger life. This is why, according to Jesus’ teaching, the one who tries to keep his "life" will lose it, and the one who is willing to lose it will find the real thing. Beneath the surface there is a deeply and vastly more authentic Self, but its presence is usually veiled by the clamour of the smaller "I" with its insatiable needs and demands. …
If you wish to experience what lies beneath, spiritual tradition teaches, the first step is simply to pull the plug on that constant self-reflexive activity of the mind. And that’s what intentional silence is set up to do. It’s like putting a stick in the spoke of thinking, so that the whole closed circuit gets derailed and the more subtle awareness at the depths of your being can begin to make its presence known. This is not how it feels to your egoic identity, of course. From the point of view of ordinary awareness, intentional silence feels like a vacuum. ... But it's not actually a vacuum down there. In fact, you could say that learning to shift to seeing with your spiritual [as opposed to "ordinary"] awareness is a lot like learning to see in the dark.
At first, everything seems totally black. but if you're patient and don't grab for the flashlight, little by little you begin to discover that you can pick out shadows and shapes, and in some mysterious way, "see". At first when you begin, it feels like a place you go to. But as the practice becomes more and more established in you so that this inner sanctuary begins to flow out into your life, it becomes more and more a place you come from.'