When contemplativeness and overcoming adversity are removed from society, we also inevitability remove the grace that we extend to each other. Those doing inner work and fighting an outer battle tend to extend grace to others. Without contemplativeness and adversity (real adversity — not the drama of modern inconveniences), we become self-absorbed and much less situationally aware. And self-absorption (ego) is the enemy of grace (soul).
This fall from grace manifests in a thousand ways. From the blaring of unwelcomed music from cars and Bluetooth speakers. To the use of speaker phones in public places. To loud talking during musical performances. Then there’s the complete lack of grace on-line — which has amplified our darker tendencies of tribalism.
Loss of grace seems to amplify the fear of stillness. To just be quiet. It’s as if the self-generated noise gives us a sense of control and provides a buffer against contemplation. The production of noise is the by-product of consumptiveness. A type of gluttony for stimulation and distraction. One could apply the conspiracy theory that the powers that be (primarily government, religion and consumerism) don’t want us to be contemplative. For contemplativeness leads to self-actualization — which leads to a distinct shrinking of the influence of these institutions.
There is hope. The too-much-information age has given birth to curation and curators. Those distilling the essence of ideas, tools, knowledge by removing the noise. I am convinced that stillness is the next thing to be curated. And that when more of us are involved in the curation of stillness, then grace will make a re-appearance. We see signs of this with meditation rooms, banning of technology from movie theaters and concert venues, silent retreats and the code of silence in yoga classes.
I will confess this is all rather new for me. It wasn’t until my awakening several years ago that I became aware of all of the noise. I contributed to it. I participated in it. I often wonder how much beauty, magic, direction I lost because of the noise. I stopped attending a church almost 4 years ago. The one thing I miss is the silence before the service. But, interestingly, it was the lack of silence during the service that drove me to seek stillness elsewhere. And I found it in nature, sitting quietly. And I’ve found stillness in the gaps between the noise I can’t control.
This newfound love for stillness has lead to a simple checkpoint for sound: is this necessary? Sometimes it is. Listening is how we learn. Music is soothing, inspiring. But a lot of it still tends towards unconscious sound; a filler of the gap of time between things.
I would hope that my fledgling love of stillness has generated more grace for others. I suppose it has, but I also know my primal and primitive response to someone’s lack of grace and lack of self-awareness.