THE SILENCE WITHIN
by Michael Patrick O'Leary
Written after a ten-day retreat at Dhamma Kuta meditation centre in Sri Lanka.
Bhikkhu – a Buddhist monk
Anicca (pronounced anitcha) – Pali word meaning impermanence, all things must pass.
A bhikkhu sneezes. Anicca. Bless you.
Inside the meditation hall, buttocks squirm,
Noses sniffle, throats tickle and phlegm.
Geckos squeak. Outside, temples and mosques
Decibel their faithful to prayer. Sirens police the roads.
Helicopters take the air highway to the war.
Semtex gouges rock from the earth. Rifles shoot wild boar.
A demon hectors on my left shoulder, mocking
My ambition of equanimity.
Dawn finds the valley obscured by clouds.
By noon mountains have materialised. Anicca.
Dusk reveals human dwellings climbing the valley,
Lights on top of mountains, the lit pathway to the top
Of Adam’s Peak. Sleep douses the lights. Anicca.
The angel on my right shoulder tells me
I cannot silence a sneeze, tame a gecko,
Much less stop the war. Phenomena beyond control.
Anicca. Observe the turmoil without, the flux within.
Search for the jewel of silence at the heart.
Bless us all. May all beings be happy.