As we move from day to day, practicing the arts of being human, of being a spouse, a family member, an employee, a citizen, we become embroiled in the many events and situations which crop up to delight, instruct, irritate and otherwise distract us. And unless we are hermits this is how we shuffle the cards of life.
Our hobbies and pastimes feel like escapes from these fussy routines. They entertain us with their invitations to various and different forms of expression. Guys playing golf are not the guys preparing reports; boys shooting hoops are not the boys sitting exams; ladies exercising are not the ladies of the office or kitchen.
But hobbies and entertainments have their own ritualized event structure into which we fall willingly. They are not empty of things occurring. We need the experience of emptiness, of things not happening. We need as much quiet as we can find. We need it to wash over us and silence our inner flutter.
Stepping out of time, the ordered flow of events, and into a space where nothing shapes us with its sound or appearance, can be as revitalizing as any experience of amusement or excitement. For some it’s a hot bath in a darkened room. For some it’s a nap in the mid-afternoon. For some it’s sitting still and allowing the stillness and quiet to become your reality. As you watch your breath passing in and out of your nostrils and throat, and feel your lungs expand and contract, the notion that you are a being born into a body of growth and decay is no longer foreign. You can feel that outer casing, that bag of skin and bones, however conventionally attractive, is but a little house for you to live in while you go to school on Earth. And that one day school will be over and you will graduate.
Stepping out of time thusly one enters a timeless space that is exactly the same as the one entered by meditators, or whatever they termed themselves in their society and epoch, hundreds and maybe thousands of years ago. That eternal now never wavers, for nothing can change it. Regardless of the spiritual or esoteric teachings which are you baggage upon entering, whatever your assumptions of deities or souls or afterlife or rebirth, that eternal now is right next to your detailed schedules, ready to be entered. That candlelit hot bath is always there.
The stillness within, the quiet, the void from which all things arise and return, is our neighbour, our faithful neighbour, who will never complain when we enter uninvited. Complain? He won’t even notice, for emptiness absorbs without a second thought. Without even a first thought.