Silence is Always Available By Brad Warner


Sometimes during the practice of zazen you have small moments of total clarity. And sometimes you try to find words to describe those moments.

They cancel evening zazen at Tassajara far too often for my liking and on days when that happened I’d always try to find a way to squeeze my own zazen time into the schedule. On one such day I was sitting by myself in the zendo and things got all nice and sorted for a little while.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Isn’t that what happens every time? You’ve been doing that zazen shit every day for almost thirty freakin’ years, Warner! You’ve even written books about it! What gives?”

My zazen these days is always much clearer and nicer than it was ten or twenty or twenty-five years ago. That’s true. I’ve had some moments of really astounding insight. But, alas, day-to-day zazen is rarely spectacular. Mostly it’s just nice. But every once in a while the stars align just right and something surprising happens. You can’t wish for this kind of thing. Well you can, but it doesn’t help. You can’t force it to happen. You can’t will it to happen. You just sit and wait and sometimes God goes, “Oh! There you are! I was busy with other stuff for a while. Here. Have a moment of clarity. It’s on me.”

So anyway, this particular little moment left behind a phrase that I will give to you for whatever it’s worth. Here it is — Silence is always available.

We tend to think that when we’re in the middle of noise and confusion, silence is gone, that it’s retreated somewhere, that it’s not with us anymore. But that’s never the case. Silence underlies everything, even our moments of deepest noisy confusion and pain. It’s always there. It is the basis of everything.

It’s not always easy to locate it. But it’s there.

Sometimes we fear silence. We think of it as dark, scary, a place where we might get lost forever. So we try to shut it out. But we can never really shut it out. We can only turn away from it. It never leaves us. Not even for a single moment. Because it can’t leave us. We are constructed only of silence.


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About threethirty

threethirty is a gonzo technologist, oggcaster, hacker, Buddhist Anarchist, Kung-fu Student, and slacktavist based in the American Mid-West. Currently his projects include Marketing and Representing the Fedora Project [a distribution of the GNU and Linux Operating Systems], the Kernel Panic Oggcast [a fortnightly show on all things Linux, Free and/or Open Source Software, Technology, Law, News and any intersection thereof], The Anarcho-Buddhist Collective blog, Zen@330 a blog about my Zen practice, and building a consulting firm specializing in web/social media marketing, (GNU ) Linux destop support, video services, and training in various areas.

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