“When we understand, we are at the center of the circle, and all the while ‘yes’ and ‘no’ chase one another around the circumference.” Chuang Tzu
“We dance ‘round in a ring and suppose. But the secret sits in the middle and knows.”
Chuang Tzu, a Chinese philosopher who lived in the 3rd century BCE, and Robert Frost a 20th century American poet, both speak of what appears to be a timeless reality; namely, that we are often alienated from the core of our being, the essence of who we are, our spiritual home base. While we are running around in circles trying to find our way in life, there is a place of understanding beneath the “yes” and “no” of likes and dislikes, opinions and attitudes, questions and conclusions that preoccupy us most of our waking hours. While we “suppose,” propose, impose, etc., there is an inner-wisdom, a “secret” that knows what our minds do not.
When we are out of touch with this sacred dimension of ourselves, we forget that we are more than what we do and more than what happens to us; we tend be off balance, thrown by life’s ups and downs, its trials and triumphs. We easily lose our deeper sense of self to the forces of victory and defeat, success and failure. We become reactive rather than responsive when life is stressful, critical of ourselves rather than compassionate when we don’t achieve our goals, judgmental of others rather than accepting when they don’t meet our needs and expectations.
It is a daily decision and discipline to go from the surface to the center of ourselves, from dancing “‘round in a ring” to resting in our soul; but how might this movement be accomplished? The Hebrew Scripture’s Psalm 46:10 invites us to “Be still and know that I am God.” Whatever our notion of the divinity may be, our best chance to connect with it, and with our deepest self, comes when we are still and silent. It is nothing less than radical to opt for even a few moments of stillness and silence in our “crazy busy” world, but being connected with our “center” and attuned to the “secret” within, is essential for our well-being physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Difficult as it may be, if we make a more reflective manner of living a priority, not only ourselves, but those with whom we live and work will be better for it.