A Quiet Space

The following piece was written by Toni Packer in response to a request by Shambhala Sun magazine for a few words concerning the events of September 11, 2001.

Let the landscape be covered with thorny crust.
We have a soft garden in here.
The continents blasted,
cities and little towns, everything
become a scorched, blackened ball.

The news we hear is full of grief for that future,
but the real news inside here
is there’s no news at all.

— Rumi

Someone asked for a few words of advice for dealing with the torrent of feelings, emotions and confusions that are coming up in the wake of the horrendous explosions inside and out that shook many of us to the roots.

If possible, can we find a quiet moment in a quiet space in the midst of all the noise, agitation and confusion, a quiet spot in the eye of sadness and grief, pain, anger, and rage, the urge for revenge, and the longing for security to end all suffering? Can we listen silently to the contractions of fear, anger, and the throbbing of longing for safety?

Can we listen ever more silently to the constant crowding of agitated reactions to what we are seeing happening on television or live in front of our eyes, thinking frantically about what could have happened, should have happened or ought to happen in response to it all? Can moments of calm presence reveal the turmoil of thinking and emoting, staying with it all without being completely taken over by it?

Can we come back time and time again, with infinite patience, to what is actually taking place right now, this very moment — the sadness and grief paining heart and mind, fear knotting the stomach and guts, anger making the heart pound faster, driving the blood to the head, and also hear the sound of rain, motor noises around us, the brightness and darkness of the room, the sky, the smell in the air — not just the reactions to all of this, but simply perceiving sounds and sights and the feel of what is actually taking place?

Listening quietly to the cacophony of the inner and outer world, can we come upon a hidden silence that enfolds all the noise and confusion, the sky and smoke and buildings crumbled to the ground, the people in dust-covered coats searching the rubble for signs of life while balancing precariously on fallen rafters and bent steel beams?

This stillness has room for everything happening on this earth — the good and the evil, the wounding, the helping and the healing, the dying and living, the hating, the killing, and the inexhaustible love that transcends it all in a way too marvelous to comprehend.