I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, awoken each morning by my father’s radio blaring the 5AD program called ‘Baz and Pilko’ throughout the house. Every day they would have this competition of ‘Guess the sound’ in which listeners could phone in with their answers. There were dollars to be won, so it was very popular, and the prize would jackpot each day if not solved. The sound was always incredibly obscure, and yet obvious, once you knew what it was. So in the interest of making some ‘easy money’ I spent most of my childhood listening to this morning program wondering… ‘what is this?’
Today I awake most mornings to the sounds of nature in the form of birds, insects, wind, or rain. It’s what I call the ‘silence of nature’. I love it. Some mornings I feel drawn to sit in meditation, and it was one such morning recently that I felt the words arise, ‘what is this?’. The question took me off guard because I didn’t believe I had heard it before, or at least not with the feeling and resonance of my being that seemed to accompany it. I knew it wasn’t a question coming from the mind.
As I sat with the question I was aware of the ‘silence of nature’ that surrounded me. I was also aware of the sensations of my breath, body and what I was sitting on, and yet I knew the question was pointing beyond. I waited. There it came again… ‘what is this?’ I knew then that the mind was not going to be able to work this one out. You see… there was no sound or sensation that met the question, as the answer was closer than close, more obvious than imagined, and vibrating with silence.
The weeks went by and I forgot about the question until one day I was sitting with a new friend and she was sharing her experience of awakening. She said, in the moment when the bottom fell out of the barrel, as she described it, the question arose in her awareness – what is this?.
There it was, the same question, Awareness asking itself.
And the answer to date is – Silence.
Answer to image: a frosted glass window, with a red plastic rain poncho hanging upside down outside on my verandah. Did you guess right? Sorry no prize money. 🙂