As with many Asheville, NC days, this Saturday morning was overcast with clouds sitting on us at 2200 feet. The studio we sat in was spacious and open and the beautiful hardwood floors got the attention of our knees, hips and ankles after sitting for a long meditation session.
We were there with Cheri Huber, a Zen teacher and perpetual seeker. Cheri’s wisdom shines through her sparkling eyes and easy smile, as does her sharp (when necessary) wit.
Few people I’ve ever met could combine the somberness of Zen sitting with funny life lessons that deepen the teaching. Today was going to be one of those days!
There were about 30 of us seated in a circle on cushions and blankets, covering ourselves against the late fall chill in the big, airy space.
After we sat for our first 45 minute sesshin and after talk and teaching called teisho or dharma talk, we would resume with our 2nd period of meditation.
Cheri was deep into a discussion on a topic that was of interest and meaning to us when one of the women in the group took off her watch and held it up in the direction of Cheri.
For a moment she ignored the woman, but then she got quiet.
“Are you trying to get my attention?”
“Yes” replied the obviously irritated woman. “I’m feeling the need to be quiet.” She meant that Cheri should bring her teisho to a close so we could meditate again.
Cheri sat like Buddha for a moment, she looked down, lifted her head, obviously suppressing a big smile and said, “I hope you won’t take this the wrong way, but have you tried being quiet?”
The group, as one, let out an audible gasp at the beauty and simplicity of this lesson. It was as if it were a setup designed by the Universe to deliver just the right message, in just the right way, at just the right time, which of course it was.
The woman, now appropriately enlightened or chastened (perhaps the same thing?), put her watch back on and went quiet.
As we move into even more hectic times with work, holidays and world events, when you find yourself feeling ornery or impatient, try being quiet. Quiet the mind and a quieter life will follow.