September 21 – A Silent Teacher – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Only when I stop collecting evidence do the stones begin to speak.

I want to speak to something very dear and obvious that has taken me my whole life to truly learn. We have touched on it elsewhere. More than knowledge, which I believe in, it involves knowing.

I have always been a reader. The worlds opened by honest voices throughout the ages have saved me from confusion and loneliness, time and time again. I have also spent roughly forty of my forty- nine years in school either as a student or a teacher. Not by chance, however, the classroom has enlarged over time to the living of life itself, and the teaching has involved less and less instructing and more and more the asking of simple things the secret of their simplicity.

But what I really want to say is that, astonishingly, the reward for truth, after all this way, is not justice or knowledge or expertise—though these things may happen—but joy; and the reward for kindness is not goodness or being thought well of or even having kindness returned—though these things may happen too. No, the reward for kindness, as well, is joy.

After the hard years of getting a doctorate, after studying on my own hundreds of sacred texts from so many different paths, I have learned that the blessing for experiencing oneness is not the strength or clarity that arrives with it, but, more deeply, a peace from dividedness.

Whether resting in a hospital bed when the pain has stopped, or waking in my lover’s arms as her fingers ease the worry from my head, or falling asleep with the words of someone long dead lying open on my lap, the bareness of truth and compassion is the same. It returns me to a simple if rare moment in which thinking and feeling and knowing and being are all the same. It is this enlivening moment—so hard to find and so elusive to hold—that is my silent teacher.

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