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INTO THE STILLNESS – New Year’s Message 2023

Stop-where are you running?
Everything you seek lies inside:
Soul, God, happiness, and joy.
You might miss it all
If you keep searching outside.

(Found on the walls of a medieval monastery)

Please consider that the most essential things in life are invisible. Breath, life force, love, soul, and God; all can’t be seen with our present eyes nor touched with our hands. Nevertheless, they are what matters most. Without them, all the things we surround ourselves with are like a big meal without salt or a body without life. Simply tasteless and dead, soon to slip out of our hands.

How can we access these invisible treasures? One answer that the wisdom texts provide is: Go inside. Unclutter. Become still. Then you will hear that unerring voice that will direct you to your real wealth, but only if you ask.

Know that behind the busyness of our human arrangements and concepts there are forces at work that are much stronger and more decisive than everything we have come up with. It is necessary to contact these higher arrangements to find out what the greater plan for us is. As I once wrote, “Only when the heart becomes still can the voice of the soul and God be heard.” But if the noise of the mind and the external world occupy us, we will be distracted from the path leading to our inner fortune. So, move into the sacred space of the heart, still your mind, and learn to listen.

When I visited Dubai at the beginning of December, all my days-morning to midnight-were filled with singing, lecturing, and meeting many people. It was a jam-packed festival! When my nerves finally began to give the unmistakable signs that I needed some “time out,” I went with three close people and an Arabian guide into the desert. I longed to become still and listen to that voice within.

In the desert, we found a beautiful spot-a valley in the dunes with a holy ghaf tree, the national tree of the Emirates that stands for tolerance and stability despite all outer obstacles. We first only sat in the sand, trying to connect with the all-pervading silence. The desert seemed to be alive, like a mother, providing us with much-needed relaxation. But suddenly there was a loud noise. Our patience was tested by a Jeep that started to race nearby through the sand in what locals call “dune-bashing.” (I have often experienced that in one’s search for inner peace, one’s patience gets tested first!) We thus decided to enter deeper into the desert, leaving behind the residues of civilization and the town of Dubai.

There, surrounded by an ocean of silence and sand, we calmly took four meditation steps that led us to inner peace. Because these steps always work, I would like to share these here in case you wish to try them:

  1. Center yourself by being present in the moment.
  2. Calm the mind with slow and deep breathing.
  3. Bring your attention to the heart space and focus on the self and the Lord there. Ask yourself, “Who am I when everything that is not me is removed?” And, “What are my next steps?”
  4. Remain in that space and simply listen… Let the answers arise…

After a considerable amount of time, we sang a sweet and devotional kirtan as the Moon, Jupiter, and Mars looked down at us. We all felt the desert allowed us to enter the invisible world within, from where we returned with many treasures-the experience of a steady regal peace and the conviction that nothing presents an insoluble problem. This experience increased our confidence and inner strength. Of course, we have no doubts that the coming year will also bring challenges. As we looked at Mars, we saw that he was glowing with a reddish hue as if announcing troubled times. However, just by that one experience within the sacred space of the heart, we were convinced that frequent visits there would equip us with the necessary strength and spiritual insights to help navigate the winds of change to our advantage. For it is in that sacred space where thoughts become silent and we can hear the soothing direction of the Lord-and doubt no more.

I wish you a very blessed 2023 and the wisdom to regularly take a step back, go into the sacred space of your heart, and receive your answers and guidance.

Sacinandana Swami

P.S. Here are some further suggestions that might help you to enter that space within:

  • Let not a day pass when you don’t deeply drink from the nectarine words of sacred texts and saintly people. After reading, reflect on what has struck you as essential.
  • Pray. But make sure that the real you prays. Rest assured; answers will be given.
  • Last but not least, chant the maha-mantra in an absorbed way, seeking higher connection.

Finally, I leave you with a most inspiring quote:

You must yourself knock
at the door of the inexhaustible store of truth
from which the former sages drew their wealth.
Go, go up to the Fountainhead of truth
where no pilgrim meets
with disappointment of any kind.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, The Bhagavat