Technically, a "sabbatical" is paid leave from
Traditionally, it's one year paid leave for every seven years worked.
I'm on sabbatical (that is, I've taken leave from writing two new
Conversations For Transformation essays
per week). But it's not "paid leave", and I don't consider myself to be
I don't study the material per se. If anything, I
check it out in my experience. So when I use the term
"sabbatical", I use it inexactly.
That said, I've taken a sabbatical from writing new essays (I'm writing
this one discontiguously). And without writing accounting for so much
of my time (for the duration of this sabbatical, at least), I'm
immersed in the opportunity it affords me to experience two essential
foundations of transformation: silence and nothing.
Personally I have doubts about how effective it would be to "study"
them. But if I can get myself out of my own way for long enough, I can
I recognize silence when I hear it. On the surface of it, that may be
an odd thing to say, given that what I'm saying I recognize when I hear
it, is silence. And in the ordinary course of events, we don't
consider "silence" to be something we "hear".
I don't often hear silence. It's more than that actually. It's more
than I simply don't often hear it. It's that I'm strangely
averse to hearing silence. When I tell the truth about it, so
many conversations, both my own as well as some of those I overhear,
are simply making noise in order to avoid silence ie in order to avoid
hearing silence. So many times, I make noise just (and only) in order
to not confront (ie to not be with) silence.
I recognize "nothing" when I do it. On the surface of it, that may also
be an odd thing to say, given that what I'm saying I recognize when I
do it, is nothing. And in the ordinary course of events, we
don't include "nothing" as something we can "do". No, "doing nothing"
isn't sitting idly on the couch with a bag of Cheetos. That's
colloquially "doing nothing". Here's the reality: doing "nothing" is
"doing whatever I'm doing while I'm doing it".
(it's also very
Let it sink in.
I don't often do nothing. It's more than that actually. It's more than
I simply don't often do nothing. It's that I'm strangely averse to
doing nothing. So many activities, both my own as well as those I
observe, are simply gadding about in order to avoid doing nothing. So
many times, I do things just (and only) in order to not confront (ie to
not be with) nothing. Yes I do seem to be pre-biased away from doing
the "Cheetos" nothing. But I'm inspired, on the other hand, by the
nothing I discover in "doing whatever I'm doing, while I'm doing it".
Having examined both phenomena, this is what I've gotten (check it out,
try it on for size): often I make noise just (and only) in order to not
confront (ie to not be with) silence. On
that's odd, because ... in silence, who I really am shows
up. Often I gad about just (and only) in order to not confront (ie to
not be with) nothing. On
that's odd, because ... in nothing, who I really am, shows
In an untransformed life, avoiding silence and nothing, is avoiding who
we really are. In an examined life, simply being willing to be with
silence, and simply being willing to be with nothing, are bedrock
foundations for transformation.