The moment of stillness is precious.
And yet, we tend to take it for granted. Amid every busyness, we are always in a hurry and obsessive to do everything faster and gain more; chanting these two words as our mantra.
- Be efficient
- Be effective
To be efficient, we should do everything faster. In instant messenger, we expect real-time communications with everyone globally, while we used to manage for waiting a few days and weeks in the traditional postal systems.
We have to read books faster, and even speed reading is not enough to meet this demand. Instead of reading books, we seek a ten or fifteen-minute summary, and we don’t have time to read letters. Instead, we listen to podcasts or video clips.
To be effective, we have to maximize everything in a minimum amount of package. Reading long classic books is wasting time for this purpose. We hear advice like: Don’t read classics anymore. Focus on the latest updates as life is short. You don’t have enough time.
In the world of global capitalism, this type of obsession is unavoidable. Whether we like it or not, we seek faster and more. As a result, despite the unprecedented progress of contemporary technology, we can never get satisfied.
Our global communications are now real-time, and all information and knowledge are a few clicks away. Nevertheless, we can’t stop running. We hear advice saying, life is short. We all have twenty-four hours a day, and it’s up to us to maximize this one day. We are eager to put things in our suitcase as much as possible, and yet we never get satisfied.
Because of this obsession, however, we have missed something precious, that is, the moment of stillness.
What is the moment of stillness?
We are in the stillness moment when we do nothing and are free from the mantra (obsession) of being efficient and effective. Your cup is empty, and you are not in a hurry anymore to maximize it to pour things as much and fast as possible.
And yet, stillness is different from laziness, and we do nothing proactively and voluntarily. For example, both prayer and meditation could lead us to this stillness state.
When we pray, we stay quiet and find a moment of solitude, and focus on the words of God with an empty mind. We stop thinking and kindly contemplate prayer. We are proactively doing nothing, and prayer is not the way to find efficient and effective solutions, but surrender ourselves to let God handle everything.
In prayer, we stop seeking something faster and more but selflessly witness the emerging moment of stillness.
When we meditate, we stay quiet and find a moment of solitude, and count our breathings with an empty mind. If we find ourselves busy in our hectic daily schedule, it’s not easy to find the moment of doing and thinking nothing.
In one meditation session, you are supposed to be in the moment of stillness. But you can’t. Various action items keep on bombarding your mind, and you may be daydreaming about anything popping up in your mind. Or, you might feel like wasting your time with a sense of guilt as if you’re not efficient and effective enough.
Indeed, in the state of prayer and meditation, we have to give up our efficiency and effectiveness. We have to surrender our selfishness to control everything around us, including ourselves.
We hear the advice: Empty your cup to learn new things. But then, as long as you keep yourself as a tangible cup as a means to capability, you can never find the authentic moment of stillness. You would continue to seek an efficient and effective cup, which should be achievable someday somewhere. We pursue what makes us faster and gain more to attain so-called enlightenment or salvation, even in spiritual practice. What should we do?
Break your cup!
We don’t need any cup or suitcase to fill things faster and more in our lives. Life is not what we are supposed to load something in it. Is life short or long? It is neither short nor long.
At the moment of stillness, life transcends its spacetime realm. We are free from the mantra (obsession) of being efficient and effective.
Once we are in this state, we are ready to slow down ourselves to appreciate the preciousness of each moment. In this state, reading is no longer for having and gaining something faster and more, but for merely being. We can now enjoy reading classics. For example, in the Bible, you can see each verse, not as the old or new knowledge you should possess, but something timeless you can pray with it and meditate on it.
Similarly, we can see something timeless in everything in our lives beyond our obsession with faster and more. The moment of stillness is indeed timeless, eternal, and precious, setting us free.
Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.John 6:27
Image by Mirko Stödter