Recognizing Stillness and Silence

Ajahn Pasanno

Recognizing Stillness and Silence

Part of cultivating and sustaining awareness is recognizing what pulls the mind out into becoming and birth. What allows the mind to turn to non-becoming, to not being born into anything?

As we explore that, the mind can become very still and very silent. Allow that sense of spaciousness and silence to open up and create a wedge in the habit of movement.

Rather than allowing attention to be hijacked by that movement into becoming and birth, start recognizing stillness and silence and then allow the mind to rest in it. Allow the mind to be very comfortable and the heart to be at ease. Ask, “What do we need to get? What do we need to become?”

By asking these questions, we are able to put things down and make putting down a skillful habit. We realize that taking them up is just a habit; it has no intrinsic stable base. The nature of the mind is changing all the time, and yet we have convinced ourselves that there is some need to always be thinking, desiring, gratifying, fearing, and worrying. But as we question the nature of mind, we realize there is no enduring substance to any of that at all. We don’t have to believe in it; we don’t have to identify with it. We can let that go.

The more we’re willing to let go, the more wedges of stillness and silence start to open up. We can attend to that and delight in that—that is where our real ease and happiness come from. Even when there is physical discomfort and the mind resists it, ease and happiness is possible.

Once we start questioning the mind and allowing it to be open, we realize that stillness, silence, and the sense of spaciousness are actually there all the time. So question the practice and explore the ability of the mind to settle and relinquish.

Even question the quality of knowing. Luang Por Tate, one of the disciples of Ajahn Mun, was asked, “What do we do when knowing and awareness becomes really steady and still?” he replied, “Start looking at what’s behind that. Don’t rest in the idea that you’ve made it to the ‘one who knows’: look behind that.”

What that does is allow us to turn to relinquishing and letting go.

This reflection by Luang Por Pasanno is from the book, Don’t Hold Back, (pdf) pp. 100-101.