Truth is the offspring of silence and unbroken meditation

Annabeth, created this fabulous piece of artwork. It really appealed to me because it appeared to capture the moment of divine inspiration, the bolt from the blue - revelation raining down directly from heaven on to a receptive individual. It just goes to show that interpretation of art is in the eye of the beholder because Annabeth tells me it is actually a baton-twirler with her hair whooshing up into the air. What-evurr!

She can join the ranks occupied by the likes of Bob Dylan, as far as I'm concerned - critics will read all sorts of stuff into the line "People don't live or die, people just float," even in the face of him saying he just wanted a line to rhyme with "she went with the man in the long black coat." Regardless of her all-too-literal (and, quite frankly, soul-crushing) interpretation of this little gem, I had the picture emblazoned on to a mug, and below it I had the words engraved, "Truth is the Offspring of Silence and Unbroken Meditation".*

The text is attributed to Isaac Newton. According to this beautiful explanation, "Isaac Newton would sit passively for several solid hours at a stretch, day after day, just letting understanding of a situation develop incrementally in his imagination, slowly budding, branching and flowering like a plant. He said that this practice of holding a subject "ever before me" was the secret of his great genius, and that Truth was "the offspring of silence and unbroken meditation". Sometimes when getting up, he would sit on the edge of the bed, following a train of though, and remain totally absorbed, until his reverie was interrupted by somebody calling him for lunch several hours later."

The secret is holding a subject ever before me. Having an idea, a direction, and calmly letting it develop.

These days, we have to make occasions for "silence and unbroken meditation." Getting up a little bit earlier in the morning, simply to be able to sit quietly. Making the effort to be on our own during a lunch-break. There are also plenty of opportunities while we are on the move. Traveling, commuting, walking, driving - all of these can become prime opportunities to place our thoughts elsewhere, mentally escape, even with the hubbub going on around us. It might mean restraining yourself from turning on the radio; it might mean unplugging the mp3 player, and taking off the headphones; it might mean switching off the TV, or the computer. Whatever it takes to give the mind time to itself.

What we are seeking to do is to give ourselves a chance to let it all go; to allow the turbulent, chaotic waters of the mind to become still - and in that stillness, truth will surface.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
(Mark 1:35)
Jesus kept the subject of Israel's dire condition ever before him, and in a moment of silence and unbroken meditation, the truth rushed in upon him. Perhaps it occurred one day while he was working, alone at his carpentry. Maybe it happened on one of those occasions when he "went off to a solitary place."

This is really what "prayer" is all about. It is stillness; it is an internal dialogue; it is allowing the spirit to work its way through our thoughts; it is communication with God - perhaps even whether we believe in God or not.

We can see the same thing happen to others in the scriptures. Peter kept his own broken condition ever before him - his denial of his friend, and trying to reconcile that with all that had gone before. Peter wasn't a stranger to seeking solitude - out on the waters, fishing, for example. On one of those occasions, in the deathly silence following Jesus' execution, the truth walked into his life - something like a man entering a room locked from the inside - and suddenly he understood clearly what was meant by, "Your sins are forgiven!"

At another time, he kept the subject of the hope for the nations outside of Israel 'ever before him.' One day, at about noon, he went up to a quiet rooftop, and in the silence the truth unraveled before him like a pristine white cloth.

Paul, on the other hand, would have found this need to switch off and let it all go more of a challenge. Being the type of person he was, he didn't like to allow himself to be still. He wasn't too keen on allowing the silence to descend because that was when he was haunted by his demons. But, even Paul was not immune from experiencing an "Aha!" moment. Paul kept the subject of the superiority of his national religion over this sacrilegious apostasy that had started in Jerusalem, and was spreading all too rapidly abroad...though he may not have been entirely aware that he was holding it 'ever before him'. However, it had lodged into his unconscious. It was ever present, constantly gnawing away at him. He couldn't crowd it out, no matter how murderous he got. Then, on the way to Damascus, in the silence and unbroken meditation of the quiet dusty road, the realisation crashed in upon him that he had been wrong all along. The shock sent him reeling. God invaded his locked up heart and started him on a road he would never turn back from.

Experiences of the likes of Paul, Peter, and Jesus can be ours, too. The answer does not lie in emptying our minds of everything - but, like Isaac Newton, "keeping a subject ever before me." Seeking moments of silence and unbroken meditation. Allowing our chaotic thoughts to become still...

It is hoped that the topics addressed in these essays - though admittedly sometimes subversive - might serve as a springboard for your own thoughts, for developing your own theology - and, most important of all, for healing the rift between a man and God. It might be that these beliefs will be fully confirmed by God's revelation. When God sees that any last walls of resistance can be overcome, he will do the rest. When that happens, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

* Get your own one, if you want.