Day 7: Today a group of us went to a Quaker meeting. I was a little nervous about going, since I’m an atheist and all that. Four of us ended up going to a meeting-house a few towns away. An older woman greeted us at the door. She asked us if this was our first time and if we knew what to expect. We said yes, we knew the basics: You find a seat and sit in silence for an hour, you can speak up if you want to.
There were two sofas facing each in the center of the meeting room and rows of chairs behind the sofas, so that one half of the room faced the other. About 30 minutes into the meeting another older women spoke up. She voiced thoughts she was having about meditation, about sitting in silence and not doing anything. She talked about how hard this was to do. She also said how hard it was to explain to someone why meditation was important, especially when she struggled with the discipline.
At the 45-minute mark, children entered the room in a flurry, but found spots to sit around the room and remained relatively quiet for the rest of the meeting. A man spoke up in the last five minutes. He described the metaphor of the muddy puddle and how with time the mud settles to the bottom, and clear water rises to the top. He spoke about this clear water as the ideal state, but then how the nothingness of it troubled him. You wait for the clear water in the hopes that from this clarity something will emerge, but the nothingness is something to be appreciated as well.
I went back to the barn and worked up a new set of concentric circles that night. Mud, clarity, and nothingness.