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Echoes of Silence:
Awakening the Meditative Spirit
by Robert Rabbin

Excerpted from "Echoes of Silence: Awakening the Meditative Spirit" (Inner Directions Publishing) 2000

From the PREFACE

This book is a collection of sutras. Sutras are aphoristic depth charges, terse statements lobbed into the psyche where they silently explode and cause all conventional knowledge to implode, leaving a quaking-pulsing-shimmering aftermath of uncontrollable freedom and spontaneity.

Freedom and spontaneity characterize the mystery of existence-distilled into essence-that we are, through and through, from top to bottom, inside and out.

In this book, I name the freedom and spontaneity of the mystery of existence meditation. 

In this book, meditation does not refer to a practice, technique, or path; it does not refer to a means; it does not refer to an imagined end or idealized state of consciousness.

In this book, meditation means the purest distillation of the creative power of the universe in whose uterus unimaginable conceptions occur and collide outside of time or place. Meditation refers to the incontrovertible fact of existence whose whole measure can only be taken by itself.

That existence is what we are. That existence is the only existence there is. Meditation is a freedom for which no practice can prepare us. Meditation is an impenetrable mystery, beyond understanding because it is not an object and cannot be known as one. Meditation is the very fact of life, so immense that only silence can approach.

Meditation is not a means to realize our desires,
to become more effective, or to develop psychic abilities.

Meditation is not a means to anything.

It is the end of all such becoming
as our simple-minded flesh and bones could want.

When we reach this end that is meditation, a new life begins.

It is not our life,
not the life we used to name with our name
and carry around like a trophy of rare achievement

but life itself, flashing through what used to be us.

Meditation is life without name,
without form.

Meditation comes first
and last.

Meditation bookends all becoming
with its fiery finality.

We can't understand this;
we can only burn the trophy case

and then live gloriously in the new life that is meditation.


Grammatically, to meditate is a verb.
Realistically, this is not true:
meditation is not a verb.

Verbs imply time.
Meditation is timeless.

Verbs imply doing.
Meditation transcends doing.

Verbs imply becoming.
Meditation is.

Verbs are conjugated.
Meditation is undivided, unchanged, all-embracing.

The heart of meditation is
eternity without center or edge,
pure lovers braided and blended
by other lovers we can never meet.


There is no "how" to meditation.
It isn't something we do.
It is what we are,
underneath the skin, meat, and seeds
of the guava-body.

All techniques require

The incantatory means of mantra,
the practice of postures and control of breath,
sweeping the mind's porch
and scrubbing cells clean of clutter-
these are techniques of concentration, not meditation.

Concentration wears a watch and knows
when to start and when to stop.
Concentration owns a ruler to measure

Meditation has neither watch nor ruler.
Meditation never begins and never ends.

Meditation is a feast wholly unto itself,
with you and I centerpieces on its handcrafted table.


Silence is exquisite.
In the world of words,
meditation and silence are synonymous.

They refer to an emptiness
in which what we are stands alone.

What is this emptiness?
It contains only what we are, nothing else.

When silence bites us like the snake it is,
we forget everything.

The snake's potent poison
spreads through our body
and slithers up the spinal stem-
when it enters the shivering brain
everything dissolves

except the silent truth, which appears before us,
behind us, above us, within us-
what is true suddenly stands alone.

We know this emptiness when we are in love,
not "in love" as an infatuation,
but in love

as a lone traveler walking without bags
in the dark desert-silence of meditation.

Of course, emptiness is a trick word.
But so is meditation, and so is silence.

In the real world of non-words,
silence and meditation are skyscraping lovers
with arching granite foyers.


A sage said if we still have an interest in outcomes,
realization isn't for us.
He might have said "meditation,"
because meditation is the living realization of our essence.

Either we want essence, or outcomes.
We can't have both.

Even if we think we can, argue we can, prove we can-
we can't.

Meditation is that essence of life in which all wanting
and hoped-for outcomes
have returned home

to the embrace of loved ones long missed,
almost forgotten.

That homecoming is a real festival
of fullness, food, and drunkenness,
drinking cups, glasses, and goblets
full of reunion wine.

Truly, this is hard to imagine;
we have wanted so long
we've forgotten how it all started-

how we left home to prove some point.
Now we've returned.

Meditation is this wild homecoming
where outcome meets essence
and understands who is right.


We can't practice meditation,
but we can practice listening,
which is different from hearing.

Hearing is when the mallet of sound simply
hits the soft skin of our inner drum.
We hear thousands of thumps and thuds every day.
Hearing is not artful, but automatic.
Listening is artful: it occurs when the mallet of sound
strikes in between our inattention, our thoughts and
beliefs, our anger, judgement-even our agreement.

Listening is pure, unfiltered.
Listening is opening to the here and now.
We cannot listen if our mind is in last Tuesday
or next April, if the sounds are blended with
the discordant music of our fantasies.
We cannot listen if we are ready to respond.

Listening is simple, empty and open,
without pretense or posture.
We listen when we are struck by the meaning,
by the essence, of each thing as it is.

Each thing is first formed by its sound,
its vibration. To hear this subtle form
of each thing's sound before it appears as a leaf
or a truck is to listen.
Listening is a good practice.

Meditation is what listens to our listening.


We are always hungry with questions,
and when we ask a question, we expect an answer.
If we don't like the answer, we may ignore it,
ask another question, or look elsewhere for a better answer.

Our questions demand satisfaction.
Once satisfied, we will rest for a while-
as after eating a big meal-until we get hungry again.
Then we'll ask another question.

We are binge-eating questioners who demand answers.

There is one question which has its own hunger.
That question cannot be answered,
because any answer will not satisfy its hunger.
Even if you can answer and feel full
this question will not.

Who am I?
This is the question with its own hunger.
Go ahead, answer. Are you full? Are you satisfied?
Ask it again.
And again.

Keep asking this question,
while asking the question's hunger if it is satisfied.

The hunger of Who am I? will never be full
until it is fed with meditation.

Meditation is not an answer we might want,
but it is the answer this question wants.

Meditation is the meal that cannot be eaten
because its fulfillment is final.


Stop signs do not joke.
Neither do cops.
We have to come to a complete stop,
or we'll get a ticket.
No rolling stops, no almost stops,
no stop and goes.

Stop means stop.

Silence is like a stop sign
for more than cars and trucks.
It is for the whole universe.

Silence is the whole universe
completely stopped, unmoving,
dead still, no pins dropping,
no cells breathing,
no synapse firing.

This silence makes a tomb's silence sound
like a jackhammer.

Meditation is more silent still-
more silent than silence-
because its stop is final.

Meditation remains stopped even
after the universe starts up again.

Meditation is a soundless sonic boom
in the silence of the stopped universe.

© Copyright Robert Rabbin.  All Rights Reserved

Robert Rabbin is a contemporary mystic who helps people actualize their innate freedom, clarity, and joy. He began practicing meditation and self-inquiry in 1969, and subsequently spent ten years studying with meditation master Swami Muktananda. Since 1985, Robert has been lecturing, leading meditative inquiry events, and serving as an advisor to professionals and corporate executives. He has also written three books, coauthored three others, and published over fifty articles.

For additional information, please visit Robert’s web site: www.robrabbin.com.

Some of Robert's Books:

The Sacred Hub: Living in Your Real Self

Invisible Leadership: Igniting the Soul at Work 

Silence Of The Heart 


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