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Should I talk, or stay silent?
Peter: I'm noticing that you seem to be spending a fair amount of time waiting for something to happen. I'm sure you can recognize the energy of waiting. You are waiting for something to come along. It could be a stimulating conversation, a state of bliss, lunch, or the end of the day. It is quite easy to recognize this experience. It is accompanied by thoughts such as: "How much longer will it take," "I wonder what IT will be like," and "I think I'm getting closer." It is also interesting to note that many psychological and spiritual systems lay out a sign-posted path leading to their goal but they all seem to omit reference to the "path of waiting." This is a little surprising given how much time we spend on this path.
Participant: So I'm appreciating how we create this sense of "waiting" and I can see how I've been basically doing this in one form or another for a hell of a long time. Is there an alternative to waiting?
Peter: Sure. The alternative is not waiting, which you also experience from time to time. Waiting is familiar. And "getting it" is familiar. While you were waiting a minute ago--before I opened my mouth--right now you aren't waiting. This new conversation has displaced the experience of waiting.
Participant: Now I notice that I've started waiting again.
Peter: And that moving to interrupt the silence has again displaced the waiting. Of course, it can also work the other way around. If a conversation is boring, you end up waiting for it to stop or become more interesting. Right now though, you are becoming familiar with a space within which we're no longer waiting, nor figuring that we've arrived. There is no heavy preoccupation with something which is about to happen.
Participant: Why is there a need to language this space at all? I have a sense of what it is. And I can leave it at that.
Penny: I appreciate what you're saying. What can happen is that you can want to "simply experience" this space without the supposed interference of language. In our experience there's a sort of a delicate dance around language. We can acquire a skill in terms of sensing when and where to create and dissolve distinctions.
Participant: So right now I feel like I'd like to say something, but I don't know if this is going to open up or close down this space--which I'm actually really enjoying.
Peter: In terms of creating this space we need to be sensitive to the impact of our speaking and not speaking, since at this point this space can be created and destroyed by both speech and silence.
Participant: So this feels tricky. Like I don't really know when to talk or be silent.
Peter: You see, in a sense, what we are doing here is creating nothing. Why do I say creating nothing? Because, what is it? Nothing. It's creating something, but it's not something that you can point to. Alternatively, you could say it is creating what is, which already is so you don't have to create it. Because from that point of view we're not doing anything.
And somehow creating nothing requires a lot more skill than creating something. Because if it is "nothing" it is very easy to regard this whole exercise as absurd or crazy. There is also a great temptation to make nothing into something.
Participant: What you are describing sounds very difficult. It feels as though I have to be very careful about when I talk, and what I actually say. I could see myself becoming paranoid about this.
Peter: What space is it that you are worried about destroying?
Participant: This space!
Peter: What do you mean, "This space"?
Participant: I don't know.
Adapted from a dialogue in Gembrook, Australia, August 1994.
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