Imagine if all the tumult of the body were to quiet down, along with all our busy thoughts about earth, sea, and air;
if the very world should stop, and the mind cease thinking about itself, go beyond itself, and be quite still;
if all the fantasies that appear in dreams and imagination should cease, and there be no speech, no sign:
Imagine if all things that are perishable grew still – for if we listen they are saying, We did not make ourselves; he made us who abides forever – imagine, then, that they should say this and fall silent, listening to the very voice of him who made them and not to that of his creation;
so that we should hear not his word through the tongues of men, nor the voice of angels, nor the clouds’ thunder, nor any symbol, but the very Self which in these things we love, and go beyond ourselves to attain a flash of that eternal wisdom which abides above all things:
And imagine if that moment were to go on and on, leaving behind all other sights and sounds but this one vision which ravishes and absorbs and fixes the beholder in joy; so that the rest of eternal life were like that moment of illumination which leaves us breathless:
Would this not be what is bidden in scripture, Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord?
Saint Augustine was born in North Africa in 354 and lived into the last stages of collapse of the Roman Empire. His Confessions, one of the world’s great pieces of autobiographical literature, tells the story of a brilliant, passionate young man who learned to channel all his passions toward God. This translation from book 9, chapter 10, is by Michael N. Nagler.
From God Makes The Rivers To Flow, Sacred literature of the world selected by Eknath Easwaran, founder of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation; third edition 2008, reprinted by permission of Nilgiri Press, P. O. Box 256, Tomales, Ca 94971, www.easwaran.org.