Listen to this week’s Devotional here.
Author: Larry Dansky
Those who know, do not speak. Those who speak, do not know.
Close your mouth. Shut the gates. Be soft. – from The Tao
Silence is God’s first language; everything else is a poor translation. – Thomas Keating
Stillness and action are relative, not absolute, principles. It is important to find a balance of yin and yang in everyday life. In movement, seek stillness and rest. In rest, be mindful and attentive. – Ken Cohen
“Those who know do not speak, those who speak do not know”. These words are the most often quoted words from the Tao Te Chung, written thousands of years ago and a classic of ancient Chinese spirituality. In ancient China, Lao Tzu was the keeper of the Imperial Library, and famous for his wisdom. Concerned about the growing corruption of the government (sound familiar?), he left for the countryside. On his way, the guard at the city gates asked Lao Tzu to write out the essence of his understanding to benefit future generations. Lao Tzu wrote the Tao, and was never heard from again.
In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary. In these words of the Tao, Lao is asking us to allow the yin or receptive aspect of ourselves to play a bigger part in our life. Foster a little more “being”, and a little less “doing”. It’s not that one is more important than the other, but we should aim to balance the two.
There is a reason people say that silence is golden. When you are holding that space of silence, you are fully receptive. This is the basis of the more modern Christian practice of Centering Prayer, a form of silent meditation developed by Father Thomas Keating. In whatever way it’s practiced, contemplation involves letting go. It’s not about clearing the mind as much as letting go and not attaching to thoughts. Not as much about solving problems as it is opening to listening to God’s words. Not as much about doing as it is just being. It is in our being that we are able to find union with the divine.
Finding the balance between yin and yang, being and doing, is often difficult. Even with a daily practice of silent centering, I get caught up in the “doing” and don’t recognize that things are out of balance. Sometimes I am able to recognize the imbalance early and re-centering comes easily. Unfortunately, too often I find myself too involved in doing and lose sight of just being. Either way, God’s grace is always available. I have to let go of the do-it-yourself fixing and awaken to divine guidance. No words are required. If I can sit in silence, be open and receptive to the spirit, I find that the yin and yang balance themselves.
Holy one, remind me to let go of my thoughts and listen for your words. When I pray, remind me that words are not necessary, and that “Silence is God’s first language”.