“And we pray, not for new earth or heaven, but to be quiet in heart, and in eye clear. What we need is here.” — Wendell Berry
The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection. And our whole society, the engine of our society, is geared towards making us connect with things not people. If you are not a good consumer capitalist citizen, if you’re spending your time bonding with the people around you and not buying stuff — in fact, we are trained from a very young age to focus our hopes and our dreams and our ambitions on things we can buy and consume. And drug addiction is really a subset of that.”
~ Johann Hari
“In a world of noise, confusion and conflict it is necessary that there be places of silence, inner discipline and peace. In such places love can blossom.”
~ Thomas Merton
The well-being of people and planet will rise, as corporate profits fall. It is time to unite as families, communities, and nations in our common identity as members of an ecological civilization, with a commitment to creating the possible world of our shared human dream. — David Korten
“My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed
I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,
with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.”
― Adrienne Rich
A quiet mind is a creative mind. It’s a mind that has time for beauty, for connection, for tenderness. Establishing and nurturing a quiet mind means going against, or at least away from, the way most people in our society prefer to live. Getting and spending has little use for silence.
Our society encourages us to be somebody, to have a reputation, a status. That project leads us to a life where we live “ at a distance from ourselves.” Becoming true is a different project. It requires somehow finding places of silence so that we can get to a deeper place in ourselves.
A life without a quiet mind can only live on the surface of things.
Everything about our culture is in question now. Our addiction to distraction is high on the list of things we need to look at, I think. We need meaningful work and meaningful leisure. At present we have little of either in America.
And we also need meaningful silence. We need an environment that encourages meditation and creation of beauty. A society that forces people to focus every day on mere survival leaves little room for such things. Now we are reaping what we sowed. A cacophonous culture is a dead end. Thoughtless maneuvers to survive the day to start all over tomorrow is how the world is destroyed.
We need artists, philosophers, mystics and even gadflies. We need thoughtful people, people who can reach deep levels in themselves to access the gifts they can then offer to the world. In the absence of a culture that encourages depth, we are charged with finding our own way in a noisy jungle. Anyone who has managed to cultivate insight, elders for example, are needed by our adolescent society.
Here we are at a turning point in human civilization, and we would do well to create a space of listening. We need to listen to the wise ones who are showing up, and we need to listen to our own hearts. It’s time to create a world out of a peaceful mind, a mind that can only come from a place of silence.
This emergency must be confronted by a mind in a state of peaceful equilibrium. A busy, superficial mindset is in ascendance now. It’s common, and hard not to be caught in it. That’s why we are caught in a trap of our own making.
To free ourselves of our life on the surface is our task now. The fate of the world depends on our ability to do so.
- Anima Fire is my publication