Tuesday, December 21, 2010


When we strive to act, the forces of Nature do their will with us; when we grow still, we become their master.
--Sri Aurobindo, The Harmony of Virtue

“Shhhhhhhh! My Sun is asleep.”

The Mother looked up at them, expectantly. The baby was swaddled tightly in linen, entirely at peace, and adrift in her arms. She looked small, and she looked young--until she lifted her eyes, which held a Tenacity, and Rootedness, that belied her stature.

“What have you brought to us?”

The Scholar from the East stepped forward. He was dressed in a bright blue silk brocade, decorated with birds and blooming peonies. He smiled and spoke: “Stillness is the body. The ocean is not equal to the wave, the ocean is equal to Stillness. Stillness is the origin of the Tao, of the cosmos.” He paused for a moment, seeming uncertain, then added: “For one who has dispatched desires, this is itself true Stillness.” He stepped back, satisfied.

The Sadhu from the South stepped forward. Clothed in rich reds, marigolds, and ochres, his face smeared with mud from the Ganges, he leaned upon a trident, and crooned in a voice barely audible: “The quality called Sattva accounts for the luminosity and clarity of the phenomenal world... In profound Stillness, with consciousness at its most reflective, discrimination begins to appear.” He pulled at a coarse black braid, brittle with dried clay, tilted his head, nodded, stepped back.

The Hesychast from the West stepped forward. His brow, buckled like the steep cliffs of his homeland, slid into a prominent nose and a cascade of mist-colored beard. His voice rang like a bell: “To Silence, the virtue of Stillness adds both Tranquility and Concentration... It means Openness to the Divine presence and to Prayer... As Paul the Apostle insists, 'It is not we who pray, but the Spirit who prays within us’-- Romans 8, verse 26." He bowed, and withdrew. 

The Mother looked at all of them. “It is very good, this Stillness you have brought to us. We receive it with Gratitude, and Delight.” She held forward the Babe, to each of them, and they gave to the Sun their blessing.

They held out their hands in benediction. “May your Brightness grow with every passing day,” they murmured.

No matter which holiday we celebrate at this time--the reappearance of the Sun, or the Son--we find ourselves buffeted by frenzy, distraction, perhaps storms of disappointment.

Take a moment, then, to swaddle yourself in Stillness, the Fruitful Darkness, the Silence that sings out with Divine potential. Make friends with the Dark.

 May we see the gates of Stillness, and perhaps make a home there.

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