What does a man who wears the same suit every day and long, endless rainy days have in common? Apparently, nothing. But, come to think of it, some analogy does arise.
Both, we might say, are monotonous to the point of boredom.
In a way, the two situations – however different – do the same thing.
How many of us would be willing to admit that monotony inhabits us?
But how, the objection would be, we are so engaged in so many activities and meet so many people every day that the hypothesis of monotony simply seems untenable.
It is true that we meet a lot of people and that we are engaged in different activities, but this does not automatically turn into a diversity experience. Instead, everyday situations are often the place of the repetition of our patterns that we are fond of and reluctantly willing to give up.
There is, therefore, a risk in the traditional way of life and it consists in making others a sort of passer-by in which to make – so to speak – parade the dress that we ourselves are wearing.
And so, every action becomes an affirmation of presence, our own.
We are obviously able to see others, to relate to them, but they are always relegated to the background, to the margins of the scenic action we direct.
Obviously, the image we have of ourselves conflicts with this reality. Within this cognitive dissonance, we like to think that we are original, magnanimous, that we are able to give everyone their own. We are so caged in a loop that it is almost impossible to get out.
To open one’s eyes would be tantamount to uprooting oneself from innate convictions; to take oneself to lands not yet furrowed. Seeing ourselves in the mirror, realizing the real situation in which we live, represents the breaking of the monology, the beginning of a new life.
How much space are we able to make for the other? How much are we able to silence our “I”? In answer to these questions, meditation intervenes.
Beyond the different paths in which it can be experienced, meditation is primarily the experience of a way of being in which the “I” is dethroned, brought back to a healthy marginality with respect to the univocal monology that permeates it.
The basic objective is to listen, to leave space. The role of meditation can also be discovered by following another path, wondering what we are giving up when we lead an existence installed in the activity of our ego.
This question is answered by Seraphim of Sarov, a monk who lived in the early nineteenth century, one of the most popular saints in Russia, defined by Pavel Evdokimov as a true “icon of Russian spirituality”.
Seraphim of Sarov warns against the risk of not being able to hear God, after he has been invoked, because of our uninterrupted loquacity.
It is necessary, he suggests, to move away even from prayer, to find God.
Let us suppose that you invited me to your home, that I came with the intention of dialoguing with you, but that you, despite my presence, continued to repeat: “Please come to me! Of course I would think, “What’s the matter with him? He doesn’t know what he’s saying. I’m at his place and he keeps inviting me.” The same goes for the Holy Spirit. […]. The man who prays speaks and utters words, but when the Holy Spirit descends it is good to remain in absolute silence, so that the soul can hear clearly.
Many often complain about not finding God, publicly showing the reasons for their dissatisfaction. And what if it is precisely our loquacity to prevent the encounter with the absolutely Other?