This moment is always the Home that you seek. Home cannot be found in time,in the story of a future, for Home is simply the timeless presence in which the story of time, and story of the seeker – appears and disappears. (Jeff Foster, Life Without a Center)
Since leaving Salies on the 2nd of October I have been “out there”. That means I have been talking, sharing, listening, relating and doing practically non-stop with out-time for sleeping only. There is nothing wrong with this; it is actually the way I lived my life for almost sixty years and the way many people I meet today continue to live simply buffering the stress of living “out there” with food, drugs, alcohol, shopping, internet, porn, television, movies, gambling or any other distraction generally classified under the heading of Relaxation. Yet, as I feel silence settling around me in this little nest I have made for myself in Salies, something inside releases, opens and experiments joy. It is then that “alone at last” crosses my mind and I sit down at the computer to begin this page.
October 2nd was the day I climbed into my Peugeot 1007 (Madame Potiron) and left for Madrid. Two days of intense activity in Madrid didn’t leave much time for contemplation. Visiting friends, seeing doctors, buying things not available in my little French village, lunching with people not seen since my last visit, conferring with my advisor at the bank and preparing for the four day encounter in Salobreña on the southern coast of Spain, all made for hectic living. The five and a half hour drive to the coastal village would have been down time if it hadn’t been for Jacques (the French voice on my GPS) who was kind enough to keep me on track. The four days in Salobreña were marvelous and intense. It had been a long time since I had led a workshop and this experience reminded me how much I enjoy doing it. The group was charged with an extremely positive energy, and the work done was deep and profitable.
I drove back to Madrid on Sunday with a dear friend and what has seemed such a long drive down, flew on the way back thanks to our animated conversation. Upon arrival in Madrid at the house of my close friend who puts me up every visit, I discovered that someone I hadn’t seen for ages was also in town. I was leaving for Salies the following day so there was no chance of meeting, but she asked if she could come and visit. I could think of nothing more delightful, so we scheduled her arrival for two days after mine. Upon nearing Salies, I advised Kiwisan and was pleasantly surprised to be invited to dinner at the Casino that very evening. I was looking forward to seeing him and the invitation suggested that he felt the same. We had a lovely evening and, seeing that it is a gambling casino, as we left Kiwi was invited to toss three dice to see if we got a free dinner. If the numbers 4, 2 and 1 came out the Casino paid for our dinner; if not we picked up the bill.
Kiwi asked me if I wanted to toss the dice. “No,” I replied, “I’ve never been lucky in that way.”
Slim as the chances were, he decidedly shook the dice in his two hands, blew upon them and shook them again vigorously. Then he tossed. Kiwi and I all looked in delighted disbelief as the dice rolled gently into 4, 2 and 1. The maitre could hardly believe his eyes and somehow managed to not even crack a smile. So our dinner was free. What fun!
The following day I rushed here and there preparing the house and the fridge for my friend’s visit. She arrived the next midday and, seeing as we had not seen each other for at least a year, we didn’t stop talking during the four days of her stay. Today she left, and after a two hour session during which Kiwisan helped me set up my I-phone with the new operating system, I am finally alone. It feels good. The mind is beginning to wind down. For the first time in over fourteen days I am not talking or listening to anyone; quiet seeps in like a lazy cat and curls up. The body comes home to itself and relaxes. A soft smile spreads over my face. My mind drifts to the very first time I heard that inner silence.
It was an indistinct day back in the year of 2003; nothing special. I had learned about The Work of Byron Katie some months before, had attended the nine day event called The School and had been practicing the questions both with myself and with others. The experience of discovering over and over again that my thoughts were not reality and that they were in no way true had me absolutely fascinated and I was convinced that the questions definitely removed suffering. That day, at some time during the afternoon, I was walking across my living room to close the window and suddenly I heard it. I heard the silence in my mind. I had not done it. I had not meditated myself into silence, I had not tried to silence my mind in any way, but there was no doubt about it: the incessant chatter had ceased and there was stillness. It was so extraordinary that it stopped me in my tracks. I listened but there was no mistake: the mind was quiet. I took a deep breath and stood there bathed in a glow of stillness that was totally new. Then I remembered what Katie had said that first day of The School when I asked if I would have time to meditate during the program. She’d laughed.
“You do The Work and your life will become meditation,” had been her response.
Until that moment I had not thought about her answer, but suddenly it made sense. Once noticed, the silence became more and more frequent because I would question any stressful thought that threatened to disturb it. Today, my mind is basically quiet except when I am asking it to do something like write this piece for my blog, or give a workshop, or communicate with my friends. I love this quiet. It makes life beautiful and exciting in an instant by instant way. A quiet mind allows me to live in the present, to hear and see each passing moment, to experience the joy of being alive as it happens, and when the mind becomes busy I simply sit and watch it, find what there is to question and do my Work. Voilà! My life is meditation and there is absolutely nothing to do but sit here and enjoy it.
“My guru is this moment. My lineage is this moment.My spiritual path is this moment. And my home is this moment.”
– Jeff Foster