‘The stress of attaching to the experiences of all our days since birth keeps the attention confused, entranced, bewildered.’
You read this in the small square book you brought home several weeks ago. The beauty and truth of this sentence prompts you to look up, to pause and sit for a while. You’ve always believed that the person you are has been moulded by all your previous experiences, but now you wonder… have I attached myself to these things? or have they attached themselves to me?
You have been confused, entranced, bewildered many times over the years, the last few years in particular. You wonder about the word attaching, which also suggests its opposite, detaching. This gives you a sense of liberation and pushes you to read on…
‘Nevertheless, we can use the presence of the nada-sound to help break the trance, to end that enchantment, to help us know the flow of feeling and mood for what it is, as patterns of nature, coming and going, changing, doing their thing.’
You flick back through the pages to remind yourself that the nada-sound is from the Sanskrit nada yoga, or ‘meditation on the inner sound.’ The sound of silence, possibly, but really for most humans there is never silence, there is always ‘a high-pitched inner ringing tone’, the nada-sound. When you rest your mind to hear this you find it disturbing, uncomfortable, but you also feel its insistence on being present, in the present, and just for a moment the enchantments of the past disappear.
The word enchantment makes you think of fairytales and wicked step-mothers, of dark trickery and mysterious forces. The patterns of nature have their own mysterious forces, and the nature of our thoughts pulls us spellbound into the wooded darkness, a place where we can lose our way, feel alone and powerless.
But, the book reassures you, these thoughts ‘are not who and what we are, and they can never really satisfy or, when seen with insight, disappoint us.’
You smile at the idea that a memory can disappoint. It feels to be the wrong word when memories have the power to disturb, to lead us to grief, despair, anger. No matter, you think, returning instead to the phrase ‘when seen with insight’. You see this as the hinge of the sentence, the place where assurance levers you gently towards the alternative path, that of light and joy and togetherness.
Insight shines brightly on the value of insight.
You close the pages and look at the back cover, the words FOR FREE DISTRIBUTION printed beneath the symbol of a leaf. You find it astonishing that you can be gifted such words, branches of thought that someone has given freely and generously so you can create your own branches of thought.
You are glad there are such people in the world. You are glad for the world.
(Extracts from Inner Listening: Meditation on the Sound of Silence, by Ajahn Amaro, published by Amaravati Publications, 2012)