The creative within drives one to act. In acting, silence seems a folly to describe… yet the Enso presents me with a tantalizing opportunity to represent silence in an act. Traditionally, zen artists would spend hours meditating and then pick up the brush and swirl this image on the page. For me this act became a practice through a season of constant conversations and activity, the solstice time of the year. Retreating occasionally to the studio while the house was full of people, this work emerged from my practice of silence within the storm.
Covers are the last thing one creates when doing a book, though they are the first thing one sees engaging a book. The cover entices one to move into the depths of the pages. Here the enso speaks to the naturalness of silence and the simplicity which draws the warrior into its depths.
Again, simplicity in the extreme is how we know what the journey is all about. Title pages are kind of anachronistic, they introduce, but are redundant at the same time. There is no ground to silence, just a willing leap into it.
Silence is not without sound. Silence is connection beyond the voice in our head which constantly repeats and reflects like a hall of mirrors ad infinatum to a depth we become distracted. To attain silence, language must be understood as a trap. It encircles us with concepts and a feeling of safety.
The ancient warriors and practitioners would often retreat to caves to begin the practice of silence. Using the simplest of mental constructs, a sound, a syllable, a tone, they would echo into the depths without distraction and destroy their connection to what was beyond the cave. Caves are powerful places to recapitulate the world and attain silence. Sitting within the cave in Coronado, blackness infused me with total silence. But as a warrior, returning to the world and bringing that blackness with me was the challenge.
Eventually the warrior sees a great doorway before him. No matter where he turns his head, it is there. The doorway is a choice, a final choice to leave the world or stay within its clutches. The pathway cannot be described for anyone else, it is an abstract process each of us must confront at some point. Silence dominates the universe though we refuse to admit it in our daily distractions.
There is an explosion of silence when we first attain a moment without the internal dialogue. It tugs on our very being and makes us speechless.
The practice of silence is a full body event. Posture and product are interlinked for a time as the words crumble away to one word, often one seed syllable. One can attempt to chant OM or HRUM, or any number of things, but it comes down to one thing, breathing in and out. This centers one in silence.
Yet the road to silence is not a destination. The path brings more and more to the front of the mind as it falls away. The voracious need for words to form boundaries to our experience is trapped in stories we tell ourselves. Only the warrior can sweep these stories away knowing that all stories, especially of the self, are motes in the infinite sea of silence that surrounds us.
What is it about centering and being in and on an immovable spot that grants us access to something secret, sacred that is obvious? We are beings within a world. In every direction there is direction… in every light there is shadow. As hot as the hottest thing can be, it is only so by comparison to that which is not. The immovable spot is a loss of form while being in form. Warriors eventually simplify the act and silence follows them everywhere.
Wherever we sit we take ourselves along the journey. No matter what we say, it is expressions of the first word. We align with silence more than grasp onto it. We release into silence as an act of willing no will to attend.
The cave of silence merges with the body of perfection. All aspects link to one aspect the drama is over. The word replaces the body in silence…. the root of practicing not doing.
Past present future are one expression of time. Inner outer centered one expression of being. Life death time one moment unfolding. Where we are is where we are at. This sets up the sacred ground of bing and stabilizes silence as pure practice.
Silence finishes itself in emptiness that is completely full. Nothing more can be said of the practice that has not already been said. The only way to understand, to know, is to do… do what works.
This work was created for Zen Mountain Gallery Jerome AZ where it can be viewed and purchased. Thanks for wandering through its pages.