Once a young monk called Kyosho went to study under the Zen Master Gensha. When Kyosho arrived at Gensha’s monastery, he went straight to see the Master.

‘I have come over here seeking the Truth’, he told him. ‘Where can I start to get into Zen?’

Master Gensha immediately turned to him and said:

‘Can you hear the murmuring of the mountain stream?’

’Yes, Master, I can hear it,’ Kyosho answered.

‘Enter Zen from there!’ was Gensha’s startling reply.[1]

We are used to interacting with the world on a surface level. We move from experience to experience – event to event – without penetrating beyond the outer façade. This surface living is the result of a society that places all its emphasis on outer appearances. It is the result of a society that does not teach us to think deeply about our life – that does not train us to hear “the murmur of the stream.”

The Kabbalah speaks of nitsutsot – sparks of light trapped in klipot – material shells. We are trapped inside a world of external appearances that keep us from getting in touch with the spark of Divinity inside us, which is our true Self. To reach this inner core, we need to learn how to “crack” the shell. The key to this process is to learn to think deeply – to reflect, contemplate and meditate upon our life and our selves.

Turning away from the world,

I have forgotten both caste and lineage,

My weaving is now in the infinite silence.

Kabir, having searched and searched himself,

Hath found God within him.  – Kabir, the poet-weaver of Benares

In today’s world there is little time for us to really think. We are always busy doing and achieving. We have no opportunity to process events – no time to assimilate the precious lessons that life is teaching us every day.

The truth is that this is no accident – most of us are afraid to think. In fact, the reason that we run from thing to thing is because we want to avoid thinking – we want to avoid looking at ourselves and our lives: we want to avoid the great emptiness that we feel inside.

Our society is afraid of silence. We cannot stand to be without some kind of noise: Inside our homes, the stereo and TV are constantly blaring. Out in the street, we take refuge in the ceaseless banter of our cell phones. In the workplace, we dive into endless forays on the phone, computer and the Internet.

We avoid silence like the plague, but the truth is that silence is healing. Silence solidifies. Silence calms and steadies. Silence instructs. Silence brings us peace.

The beginning of the spiritual life is to learn to listen.

There is a thread of consciousness that is flowing into us from our soul at all times. This invisible thread is a line of communication between our true Self and us. This thread is a spiritual lifeline amidst the tumult and turmoil of this world.

We need to create inner space in our lives to hear and contemplate. We need to clear inner space in our hearts so that we can think deeply.

Slow, careful thinking and perceiving is what is wanted. A focused and thorough reflection upon life: We want to be able to feel the pulse of the universe. We want to hear the sublime vibrations of the Sound of Life.

The place inside us where we think deeply is the abode of our soul. When we touch this place, we are transported into another state of consciousness. When we touch this place, all external reality fades away.

Thinking deeply means going beyond the intellect and tapping into the intuition. We know with an inner certainty and hear with an inner ear. We listen from a place of silence and clarity. We search for the place of resonance between our heart, mind and soul.

There is a place deep inside us where all is attuned and in perfect harmony – where everything feels right. When we touch upon this place a sense of peace and tranquility fills our being. When we touch upon this place all tension, fear and stress falls away.


One day, a monk came up to the famous Zen Master Sanko and requested, “Please show me the essence of Zen.”

Master Sanko at once replied: “Look under your feet!”[1]

God is not to be found by ascending to a far off heaven or by following some secret esoteric path. God is found by immersing ourselves in deep contemplation. God is found in the silent repose of heart and mind. God is found through thinking deeply. This deep thinking will lead us to real wisdom and insight. This deep thinking will link us to the Universal Mind of God.

Copyright © 2008, by Yoel Glick

Acknowledgements    (↵ returns to text)

  1. A Flower does not Talk, Abbot Shibayama
  2. A Flower does not Talk, Abbot Shibayama