On Wednesday afternoons, i teach meditation at an assisted living facility to 2 old ladies. 93-year-old Betty wears 2 hearing aids and still can't hear 91-year old Helen. But Helen can't hear Betty either. I sit between them and boom out meditation instructions.
As usual, in beginning meditation, i introduce various objects of meditation because each individual gravitates toward whatever interests them the most--hearing or the breath or sensations of the body. Betty and Helen both find hearing to be most interesting, specifically "the sound of silence."
"Tranquility is my favorite word," says Betty. "Tranquility feels like a forest glade. A still pool and animals comes to drink there."
Betty is a devout Catholic who has never heard of Ajahn Chah, a Thai Forest master, who said,
"Try to be mindful and let things take their natural course. Then your mind will become still in any surroundings, like a clear forest pool. All kinds of wonderful, rare animals will come to drink at the pool, and you will clearly see the nature of all things. You will see many strange and wonderful things come and go, but you will be still. This is the happiness of the Buddha."
I quiz her about the inner quietness she experiences. "Oh yes," she says. "Even when my mind is busy, the quiet is still there."
This is the reason i keep going back to the Assisted Living facility; i'm learning a lot from Betty.
2 weeks ago, she quoted Shantideva, an 8th century Indian Buddhist scholar, and she's never heard of him either.