Sunday, 16 November 2014

Presence and the Art of Stillness

Today is a quiet Sunday morning, rather warm for the season, I even heard some birds singing. It is all quiet everywhere, which gives you a feeling of being alone. I went out in the garden to try to capture some late autumn colours. They are there because the autumn so far has been very mild. Here are a few flowers that lights up the day.


I have seen that some of you out there already have got snow. It looks really lovely, but I appreciate not to have to shovel snow from the drive way!

On brain pickings I found a wonderful article on What Leonard Cohen Teaches Us about Presence and the Art of Stillness. Novelist and essayist Pico Iyer, the author of The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere, have interviewed singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, who in 1994 moved to the Mt. Baldy Zen Center to embark on five years of seclusion. Midway through Cohen was ordained as a Rinzai Zen Buddist monk and given the Dharma name Jikan-Pali for "silence".  Iyer writes:

"Leonard Cohen had come to this Old World redoubt to make a life – an art – out of stillness. And he was working on simplifying himself as fiercely as he might on the verses of one of his songs, which he spends more than ten years polishing to perfection. The week I was visiting, he was essentially spending seven days and nights in a bare meditation hall, sitting stock-still. His name in the monastery, Jikan, referred to the silence between two thoughts.
[...]
One evening – four in the morning, the end of December – Cohen took time out from his meditations to walk down to my cabin and try to explain what he was doing here.
Sitting still, he said with unexpected passion, was “the real deep entertainment” he had found in his sixty-one years on the planet. “Real profound and voluptuous and delicious entertainment. The real feast that is available within this activity.”
Was he kidding? Cohen is famous for his mischief and ironies.
He wasn’t, I realized as he went on. “What else would I be doing?” he asked. “Would I be starting a new marriage with a young woman and raising another family? Finding new drugs, buying more expensive wine? I don’t know. This seems to me the most luxurious and sumptuous response to the emptiness of my own existence.”
Typically lofty and pitiless words; living on such close terms with silence clearly hadn’t diminished his gift for golden sentences. But the words carried weight when coming from one who seemed to have tasted all the pleasures that the world has to offer."

You can read the full thoughtful article  here.


The dilemma today is that we don't take the time to just listen to the quietness, to relax from social media and enjoy the stillness. Life is so busy so we somehow forget to live and forget what is the essence of life.

There some thoughtful words for a Sunday afternoon. I am awaiting a friend for lunch and am looking forward to the Masters ATP Final in Tennis in London this evening between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. It is promising to be a great match! So much for tranquility and reflection!

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