Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Kingdom of Stillness

It was a wise man who said: ‘Commune with thine own heart … and be still’

‘... Be still, Know I am God’
Psalm 46 verse 10.

Noise is a predominant characteristic of our civilisation today. From early morning until far into the night our ears are bombarded with raucous sounds: screaming jets, squealing brakes, the clashes and crashes that are now the inescapable accompaniment to daily existence, added to it all the ubiquitous mobile phone!*

To endure this crescendo of cacophony it is almost inevitable that we unconsciously resort to nature’s way of escape: Our senses become dulled. We see an extreme instance of how this happens in the case of the riveter whose ear-drums often actually thicken to relieve the strain caused by the shuddering clatter of the pneumatic drill.

Although toughening ourselves may seem to make life more tolerable, it is really only making matters worse! Indeed, our growing insensitivity to noise is no doubt one of the causes of the increasing din of our modern world, and may explain why modern music has to be amplified to such painful proportions! It looks as though we, as a race, are reaching the unfortunate condition of being both noisy and deaf!

This dulling of our senses has further disadvantages, as it tends to rob us of some of the finest of Life’s delights. Since noise, like any form of sound, is a matter of vibration, it follows that by building up resistance against unpleasant noises we, at the same time, make it increasingly difficult to register the more delicate vibrations. By toughening the mechanism which should be finely tuned, we cut ourselves off from the refining beauties of Life.

Noise and Neurosis

It is encouraging that we are seeking a remedy for the nerve-destroying din that assails us on every hand, and some prohibitive measures are being taken to reduce it, at least in its more avoidable forms. Noise is not just a public nuisance to be dealt with by legislation. If we are really out to tackle this problem, we should not be content with mere attempts to alleviate the discomforts it inflicts on our long-suffering senses - welcome as they most certainly are. We should set out to penetrate deeper; by doing so we shall without doubt discover that the modern pandemonium is symptomatic of a severe condition of conflict within the noise-makers themselves. Indeed, neurosis is as much the cause of noise as its result. This inner discord leads to various forms of outer dissonance. The blinding kaleidoscope of ‘bright lights’ associated with night-clubs, horror films and so on, all point to man’s discordant state.

Noise is therefore connected with disharmony, psychologically as well as physically. It may not even take the form of sound at all. Many people have, as a result of acute emotional disturbance, experienced a state of inner storm, accompanied by darkness and a deafening din, while sunlight and quiet prevailed, entirely unperceived, in the world outside.

The fact that some of us are beginning to find this increasingly noisy world an unbearable place to live in may actually prove to be a blessing. Only inasmuch as some ill causes us to suffer, do we see the need to deal with it and find a remedy. It would be fortunate if the hubbub around us brings us face to face, not only with the problem of the chaotic conditions outside, but with the conditions of disharmony within ourselves.

Inner Stillness

The stress of modern existence is aggravating our restlessness and we are ceaselessly running to and fro, always hurrying. But today most of us have hustled and pushed ourselves and each other around so exhaustingly that in desperation we are beginning to discover, perhaps for the first time, our need for and the value of quiet - not merely the absence of noise outside, but a quality of inner stillness.

It was a wise man who said: ‘Commune with thine own heart ….. and be still’. Probably it is only when we are still that we begin to understand our own inner nature. And as we are so seldom still, we know very little of even our own spirit, and much less of the greater Spirit outside and beyond us. It is only through our own spirit that we can reach out to the great dynamic Life that gave us birth and sustains us. And unless we can contact that Source, we inevitably become tired, jangled, irritable and ultimately defeated.

In the noisy world of today, there is a great need for us to focus our thought on the values of the Spirit. This means that we must find ways and means to get away from the fuss and stress of existence, to contact that essential Life, that we may learn to find its power, not merely for ourselves, but through ourselves for others and for the world.

The first step is to learn to be still; still, not only from the outer noise, but from the inner turmoil of our chaotic emotions, so that we can realise the values that are not of this world. The realm of those values has aptly been called the Kingdom of Heaven, for heaven means harmony. This kingdom is so unfamiliar to our discordant selves, that we have sometimes almost doubted that it is real at all. Its values are those that ‘eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man’.


It is when we begin to discover our spirit that we also begin to know that what the eye sees is not all that there is, for it can only register a very limited rate of vibration. What the ear hears is only just a suggestion of the vast range of sounds beyond our capacity to record. Recognising these truths, we realise that however wonderful the body may be, however beautiful its mechanisms, it is but an elementary teacher. It can only go a little way into the heights and depths of Life.

The body is merely a part of our kindergarten education; the five senses are only the equipment whereby we are trained for the higher life of the Kingdom which is invisible and endures. Our kindergarten lessons may soon be over and our earthly bodies transcended. But through the refining of our limited senses, we may develop the sensitivity that can here and now discern what ‘eye has not seen, nor ear heard’.

Only as we believe it, can we hope to realise this Kingdom. Only as we call it forth, can it ever manifest. It is in the quiet that we can contact this invisible realm. And as we learn to commune with our own spirit in stillness, in the silence, we shall progressively discover and translate its values to a distressed and noisy world.

* ‘mobile phone’ added in this present edition

Ian Fearn

© New Renasence Trust (Registered Charity No 256640)

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