I became exquisitely aware of the Stillness — around, within, underneath everything. It was a Stillness so profound that all that is seemed to be originating from and contained in it. I felt it most intensely at a locus in the center of my chest, and it radiated outward, filling my entire being and moving beyond. But it also undergirded and surrounded me and everything else.
The Stillness was not a Negative or an Absence, but neither do the opposite terms seem at all apt. It simply Was (Is). It seemed the basis, the grounding, the totality of all that is. To describe it as a person is to limit and trivialise it. And to call it “it” is not at all accurate either, for what I experienced was no-thing. What I do know is that I experienced an absolute wholeness, integrity, serenity, and union with everything, a union that cannot be expressed in language.
My intuitive reaction was “This is It!”, “This is What Is!” without in any way being able or feeling it necessary to articulate conceptually what I was experiencing, what “It” was. I sensed that all that is being continually birthed from the Stillness, sustained and supported by and in the Stillness, and returned to the Stillness itself. The Stillness is fundamentally All.
What analogies can I use to help clarify this, what metaphors? It is as if the velvet darkness of the night were producing the stars, steady but ultimately transient expressions of being out of itself, the fundamental reality being the living darkness, and yet the stars being intrinsically the night also. But is the Stillness then alive? That too is an inadequate description of what I knew. I fear that metaphors fail me.
The Stillness is what is between and under and in the words we speak, the print we read, the notes of music we hear; all these are expressions of the Stillness and are nevertheless not other than the Stillness. The Stillness is what surrounds, contains, and delimits and even is the objects we see.
The Stillness precedes, contains, and follows the feelings we feel. The Stillness is that out of which our thoughts and ideas arise, and yet those thoughts and ideas are not really apart from and other than the Stillness. And much, much more.
I anticipated the experience fading rapidly. It has not. The Stillness remains much in my awareness. I sense it most of the time — a groundedness, a centredness, a peace and wholeness impossible to describe. My awareness turns to it repeatedly and frequently, and I become aware that I was never really away.
And yet I do not sense that it is I turning to the Stillness but rather that the Stillness is continually drawing my awareness. I find myself looking at life, people, things, circumstances — how shall I say? — gently, tenderly. The fragility, the poignancy of all that is touches and overwhelms me.
Aware of the Stillness, sitting in the Stillness, I am left almost breathless, stunned, yet curiously cherished, shielded beyond all danger or possibility of separation. I experience the validity of Julian’s affirmation that all is indeed well.
And yet these latter feelings seem unimportant, almost beside the point, personal well-being seeming somehow irrelevant, for as a part of the Stillness I am (we are) not other than It. I am trying to describe another dimension of experience altogether, and I fear that I am failing.
Poems sometimes speak truth the most clearly, and one of my favourites by Rumi seems appropriate here:
Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other”
doesn’t make sense.
~ From: Stillness, by Bruce K. Nagle