Silence & stillness meet suffering


War in Ukraine was breaking out while a group of us were on the weekend retreat for Journey to the Deep this year. It felt strange talking about what we want for our lives, when the suffering of so many people was so present in our minds. There’s of course much to be said and done, but this poem by Pablo Neruda also points to the need for silence and introspection at such times - perhaps if we really could keep quiet, we wouldn’t need anything else.

After some mindful movement, relaxation and an abundance and protection meditation, we "did nothing" together with a cup of tea. At the end I read the poem - I believe its an essential and healthy part of being human to question how we can be here, work on ourselves in these moments, when we are aware of so much suffering in the world around us. It feels like a question I will hold for my whole life.

I won’t comment more on it - make of it what you will.

Keeping Quiet

by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve

and we will all keep still

for once on the face of the earth,

let's not speak in any language;

let's stop for a second,

and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment

without rush, without engines;

we would all be together

in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea

would not harm whales

and the man gathering salt

would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,

wars with gas, wars with fire,

victories with no survivors,

would put on clean clothes

and walk about with their brothers

in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused

with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about...

If we were not so single-minded

about keeping our lives moving,

and for once could do nothing,

perhaps a huge silence

might interrupt this sadness

of never understanding ourselves

and of threatening ourselves with


Now I'll count up to twelve

and you keep quiet and I will go.

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