Sounds arise out of and fall back into silence, but what is silence?  It seems that there is always noise.  Noise arising out of and falling back into noise.  A dog barking against a constant background of chirping crickets.  The barking arises out of silence.  The cricket chirping arises out of silence, but where is silence?  Is silence the absence of noise?  Or is silence inner stillness where there is no such thing as sound?

If you shut your eyes, and contemplate reality only with your ears, you will find there is a background of silence, and all sounds are coming out of it. They start out of silence. If you close your eyes, and just listen, you will observe the sounds came out of nothing, floated off, and off, stopped being a sonic echo, and became a memory, which is another kind of echo. It is very simple; it all begins now, and therefore it is spontaneous.

It All Begins Now – Alan Watts

The Watt’s “video” above is a must listen.  He describes how a newborn interprets all things as just something that happens with no distinction.  The sound of a car outside is no different than a thought passing through the mind.  The light is just something that happens.  The blinking response is just something that happens.  There is no distinction.  No identification.  Where do we lose this?  Where do we start identifying with thoughts, feelings, events?  Where do we lose the non-identification and spring into individuality?  This is something that is required for survival.  If we stayed in a state of non-identification then we would not understand what is needed to exist here, now.

I have to include this, don’t I?

But yet, this is something that must be unlearned, or there needs to be a balance between identification and non-identification.  A middle ground.  Only through maturity are we able to grasp the consequences of our actions and how our thoughts impact others.  What is internal is external and the other way around.  Without my environment, I would not exist, and without me, my environment would not exist.  An environment would exist, but not mine.  And therein lies a lesson in impermanence and clinging and everything else zen says you should just let go of to achieve balance and unknowing.

Something Buddha said or didn’t

I took my second whitewater kayaking class yesterday.  I have been a recreational kayaker for a few years, and I have always been intrigued by the higher level of excitement of WW kayaking.  As I posted before, it is quite a bit different than what I have been accustomed.  One of my biggest fears is water.  I have never been a strong swimmer and have a fear of drowning, so this represents a challenge for me.  In the first of the class we practiced rescue rolling onto the instructors kayak.  This involved holding onto his kayak and positioning my head above water with the kayak upside down.  I was to then flick my hips to make myself upright as opposed to pushing off of his kayak.  I did OK with this and then we moved on to actually being upside down in the water.

Not me

In the first lesson I definitely panicked.  This time I moved quicker than I should have, but I felt a bit more in control.  The instructor kept telling me to slow down and enjoy my time upside down in the water.  🙂  My response was that it was cold, dark, wet, and there was no air.  I was able to push through this and I wish I could say that I perfected it by the end, but I did at least feel a little more comfortable.  We then moved on to the rapids downstream and he showed us how to cross the current line by turning head first into the water.  This time my patience was acceptable to the instructor.  I am used to navigating this type of water and I felt comfortable with the turns in the current.  He commented that it was good that I took things slow and was able to react to the water, speed will come later.


All in all it was a good day.  It was humbling in that I expected after a couple classes I would be an expert going down the channel alone.  I have learned that I need to slow down and respond to the situation at hand without trying to predict or react to a future that hasn’t happened.  This is even true of me reacting upside down thinking that I am going to drown.  I have to react to what is actually happening, instead of what I think will happen.  It is just a push into this moment.

If there’s a secret, it’s practice

At the end of the lesson they shut off the pumps at the whitewater center.  The deafening roar of the water was replaced with what could only be described as calm.  Something that was there was there no longer.  I suppose that this could be called silence.  If it wasn’t a true change in sound, it was a change in perception and perspective brought about by what I had just experienced.