Silence in absolute stillness (寂然不動)
45 X 27cm in Semi-cursive Script (行書)
This expression originated from I Ching
(or Book of Change, 易經), which is one of the oldest Chinese classics with a history of over 2600 years (1). It is part of the phrase “寂然不動，感而遂通天下之故”, which roughly translates to "if you can achieve silence in absolute stillness, you can feel the true nature of the universe (and so see through everything in the world)".
"Silence in absolute stillness".
(translated by KS Vincent Poon, Nov. 2015)
When your mind is clouded with worries, you usually cannot see the true nature of your quandaries. To solve a problem properly, one must first settle into silence and clear your mind. Otherwise, you will not see the root of your problem and you will not be able to arrive at an appropriate solution.
For Catholics, this type of "silence" is absolutely critical in understanding the true nature of God. If you do not humble yourself and acknowledge your inadequacies, you will not be able to comprehend or hear God's words. Indeed, a cup needs to be emptied before anything can be filled into it. This absolute quietness reminds me of my 2015 visit to Hakodate's Trappistine Convent in Japan (2)(3), where my father and I went inside the main convent (which is usually closed to visitors, only the exterior Garden is open to the public) via some extraordinary circumstances. Since the Trappists believe that silence is absolutely necessary to listening to God's words (so idle talk is discouraged), I felt this "Silence in absolute stillness (寂然不動)" inside the convent. It was not a cold hollow silence, but rather a warm peaceful silence which caused me to believe that there was a divine presence. I cannot put into words to express that feeling, but it was a remarkable experience with only me, my dad and an elderly Trappist nun praying inside an old but pristine church of over 200 years old. I felt this convent was a place outside of the ordinary world and possibly Holy, and this exceptional environment can only be achieved by observing absolute silence.