David Steindl-Rast – A listening heart
Find meaning through the senses
With gratitude, we can progress from the recognition of the gift to the acknowledgment of the giver, and from there to the praiseworthy confession of grace, and thus find meaning through our senses.
This is done by seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling and tasting.
The sight carries the farthest, so we can see the stars in the universe with a clear sky. Hearing is already more limited, but even this can be audible for miles, even the silence is audible.
Smelling is something that usually needs more closeness to perceive the smell, but even this can be possible over long distances (sugar factory). In order to feel something, it must be in the immediate vicinity. Buttons work with our entire body, which has tactile organs everywhere. Tasting is even more intimate, as the tasted must be included in us.
This culminates in the Lord’s Supper.
Gratitude begins in the realm of the senses.
Gratitude, however, begins by itself in the realm of the sensual, can be purposefully practiced, and leads us step by step to deeper and deeper insight into the meaning of life.
Time and again we must remember that the goal of human endeavor is to find meaning.
Sense is silence. It is fulfilled by taking shape; it takes shape as it becomes the Word. But sense as such is silence. And “words after they are spoken are enough for silence”.
And when you realize in a flash-like enlightened moment that everything makes sense, once you leave rational thinking behind, you will also understand why some men and women devote their entire lives to this paradox. What you are looking for is:
… not the heightened moment, detached, free from what has been and what is future, but the whole life, glowing at every moment.
Desire is entangled in time; he longs for the past and worries about the future. Love that transcends desire is “liberation from the future as from the past”. What remains is the now, in which “the past and the future are united,” the resting point.
For this, the silence is needed. For this we need the support of others who are pursuing the same goal.
Monastic solitude must be borne by one another.
Thus the meaning we seek in life reveals as soon as we give up the attempt to catch it and begin to listen to it. Knowledge tries to grasp, listening to wisdom.
To be able to listen, one has to be quiet.
Everyone knows that one can do his prayers without actually praying. And if we ask ourselves, “What is that that makes prayers to prayer?”, Then the answer is: inner collection, mindfulness. When we are in the thing, we really pray.
And with that, everything becomes a prayer, a celebration. Everything becomes a celebration as we learn to look at each thing, one by one, moment by moment, so that we can gratefully pay attention to it.
Our senses as a way to meaning.
Once a monk with collected attention reads the words of the Holy Scripture, another time with the same concentration the signs of the grain in the wood with which he works, or the signs of the time in which he lives. One and the same inner attitude marks the “reading” in all these areas. Those who can not read the signs of the times or the writing of the frost flowers on the windowpane may read the letters in the Bible, but they remain spiritual illiterates.