The appearance of this silence marks the end of meditation as a practice and the beginning of meditation as a state of being. It isn't practiced; it isn't attained. It doesn't belong to anyone. We all belong to it.
As this awareness grows within us, we experience peace. Our chronic restlessness subsides. A way of seeing and knowing, different from thinking, is aroused. We might say it is the intuitive umbilical cord to the sacred, a capacity of perception that is wholistic and instantaneous. It is not fragmented and chaotic. We experience directly that we are not our thoughts, but that thoughts occur within us, as clouds appear in the sky.
Each of us longs to be free from all limiting conditions, from compulsive thought and worry, from the disappointment of self-centered pursuits, from the burden of striving for security and happiness. Who hasn't stared out the window and searched the sky for an answer, for a moment of peace? In that moment we are refreshed by the wholeness of the sky which embraces everything. Our breathing becomes deeper. Our thoughts become quiet. It happens to each of us, almost every day. We seem to be searching for something finer, more subtle, than the usual tension and pressure of our lives. A voice we hope to hear. A light we strain to see.
We have to become very still to be able to see and hear and sense this subtlety that we usually glimpse only in rare, unguarded moments. This subtlety is covered by the cacophony of our thoughts. We perceive this subtlety of life, not with thoughts, but with awareness. When we begin to see with subtlety, we begin to sense a pervasive presence, about which nothing can be thought. When we try to know it, it recedes; when we simply allow it to be, it emerges. There's no longing; there's no clinging; there's no struggling; there's no persistent effort. There's simply an opening in which this subtle pervasive presence emerges. Even our thoughts appear in the midst of all of this, but they no longer obscure that presence.
This state of merging with the subtle presence is called natural meditation. Natural meditation is the atmosphere of the sacred hub. It is known in silence. It is who we are. Silence is a release within oneself of all self-centered concern. It is, in fact, death, but a death of smallness, pettiness, and fear. It is the death of the repetitive cycle of desire, fulfillment, and disappointment that is the hallmark of self-centered living.
Meditation dissolves the mental images with which we have identified. Meditation is a fire that consumes the names and forms and conditions with which we have become fascinated. This fascination with the content of the mind creates the sense of being bound and alone and separate. The radiant presence which animates the whole of this universe, the Self, is suppressed by the tyranny of thought. Meditation liberates the Self from its apparent obscurity.
We don't attain anything through meditation. We don't become whole through meditation because we already are whole. Meditation does not fulfill our wishes and dreams: it ends wishing and dreaming. It is the supreme awakening. Meditation reveals the illusion of separation and all of the loneliness and sadness and fear that attend alienation from the Self. Meditation breaks our fascination with the alluring images of the mind. We come to see what those images are and how they come into being. We see this as meditation ripens. We see how all of the effort associated with self-centeredness is so unnecessary and destructive.