Stillness and knowing:

Knowing and loving

When I was first introduced to meditation, my teacher[1] would often give the same short reply to my questions about the practice:

“Practice stillness. Just do this. Eventually your mind will become still enough for you to notice something wonderful.”

More than 35 years later, I’m still in awe of the wisdom of this simple teaching.

The Bible is full of teachings on the relationship between stillness and knowing. Perhaps the most famous is found in Psalm 46, “Be still and know that I am God.”[2]

Stillness of mind is necessary for knowing; for knowing God, for knowing who we are, for knowing each other (all of which we discover to be simply aspects of single knowing, God’s knowing, which we participate in).

Meditation, the practice of stillness, cultivates an interior silence which eventually blossoms as spacious, luminous awareness (the ever-present awareness which illuminates, which knows).

When we become still, we begin to notice the depthless-depth of silent peace where our thoughts and feelings arise and depart, awareness itself.

We begin to see the wonderful truth of who we are.

“My only me is God, and I know no other me than God” said St. Catherine of Genoa.[3]

Despite what many of us may have been told, our deepest impulse is not towards evil, but towards love. How could it be otherwise when God is our being and God is Love?[4] I’m continually surprised at how surprised people are to hear this. This is part and parcel of the original message of the gospel.

Our deepest “me” is a boundless capacity for love.

When we begin to see who we are, we become aware our lives will be transformed if we live from our deepest “me”. We want to live a life of love, simply because this is what it means (what it “looks like”) to be who we are.

Needless to say, this opening of awareness does not mean that our selfish habits and unruly passions suddenly vanish overnight. But when we see that our deepest “me” is pure love, pure peace, pure light [5], we want to live a life that reflects this, which we now understand is just to live what it means to be fully, radically human.

All we are doing in meditation, is learning to centre ourselves in our deepest “me”, in who we really are. We are learning to be human, which is to live in relationship, in love.

To discover who we are, is to discover the reason for our life. We no longer worry about trying to win God’s love by pleasing him. We know we are ceaselessly receiving God’s love (God’s ceaseless gift of himself), because we know who we are.

We allow what is revealed in the stillness and silence to be our inspiration and our guide. And this new awareness of who we are begins to illuminate our daily life and all that we do.

We no longer measure our value in terms of what we do, what we achieve. We know that our infinite value rests in what we are and that being the simple truth of what we are is all that matters.

Slowly we become aware of our oneness with Love and begin to live out of that love. Our understanding of the purpose of our life changes, opens.

Inspired by knowing that our deepest “me” is love, is peace, we understand that the purpose of our life is to be love, to be peace, to be who we are. We allow what we have been given (our “me”) to manifest as a gift for those around us and for the world.

No analysis is needed to know this, no demands have to be made or met, only a total availability to the wonder of our own being, to the wonder of what it means to be.

Imagine how our relationships, our communities, our world would benefit if everyone had a sense of their real “me”, a sense of their infinite value and importance; if we could communicate this understanding to only one other person.

Our relationships, our communities, our world would be unimaginably helped if people knew the wonderful truth of who they are.

“Be still. Practice stillness. Eventually your mind will become still enough for you to notice something wonderful.”

We will notice who we are.


[2] Psalm 46:10.

[3] St. Catherine of Genoa, Life and Doctrine of St. Catherine of Genoa, chapter 14, my translation.

[4] 1 John 4:16.

[5] 1 John 1:5.

School of Contemplative Life
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