In the Place of the Quiet Heart: By Ken Knight

Leave it. Let them go;
The bruising car horns,
The tearing blare of amplified film music,
The town with its currency of coins and noise
Has no hold.
Come away,
Leave it.
Let them go,
Come to where the currency is stillness.

How is it that one’s purse can be filled?
Beneath the benign gaze of Arunachala
Whose peak draws up the heart’s delight
And whose slopes soon veil the town,
Take the winding path to a quieter realm.
See the greens and yellows and reds of trees, bushes and earth.
Catch the perfume of soft flowers on the gentle breeze,
Hear the sound of your tread on the sandy earth.
Be patient.
Listen to the sounds of many birds singing.
Listen to the sound of one bird singing…
Soon you will come to the place of the quiet heart
Where all may take their rest by the silent water,
For here is the currency of stillness.

No camera could record this place.
No words can reveal it
For it is beyond words.
Each must find it for himself.
Others may be there, but they too will be quiet
For they also have ears to hear.
Around the gentle water, trees bend
To gaze at their softened reflections.
Some brush branches on the surface
And send out ripples as the breeze shudders their leaves.
The bulbous eyes of frogs peep up and peer across the water.
The lightning-blue flash of a kingfisher sparks from tree to tree,
Lizards bask, motionless on grey rocks.
Listen to the sound of one bird singing.
See the saffron-robed sannyasin across the lake:
Palms pressed together in silent greeting.
No need for words
For now we have the currency that flows so freely
Here in the place of the quiet heart.

Here in the place of the quiet heart
There is no fear,
No concern for what must be done
In some imagined future.
No prostration
For who prostrates to whom when all is One.
Here there is but smiling presence,
Freely flowing,
One vibration
Echoing the sound of one bird singing
In the space of the quiet heart.

(This was written during a stay at Ramanashram. Circumambulating Arunachala early one morning, my wife and I came to a tank about one third of the way around the mountain. Immediately we became aware of a special quality there, sattvic we would say. Some priests were laughing and joking as they did their washing but, alert to us sitting quietly, they too became silent. Over the following days we walked to the same spot and the walk itself became a meditative exercise, hence the poem.)

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