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Too Restless to Sleep

June 16, 2013

by Stephen Damon

As anyone who has ever been on a retreat will tell you, it is often very hard to get to sleep after a day of meditation and deep reflection. Sometimes, I have often lain awake for hours, listening to the impenetrable silence of the mountains. When I do so, I have noticed that this silence somehow seems more alive and active than the noise of the daylight hours. This silence seems to be filled with something very deep and mysterious that seems more real and immediate than anything I experience during the day.

And if I am able to go more deeply into the silence I can hear some of the lines of the Heart Sutra: There is no form, no sensation, no perception, no formation, no consciousness; no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no sights, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of mind, no realm of sight, down to no realm of mind consciousness. I memorized this chant long ago, so I really don’t know whether these words come from the forest or from my heart.

On nights like these it’s as if the night has been waiting for me to come out of my life so it can share its wisdom. Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha!

Too Restless to Sleep

I was kept awake
by thoughts stumbling
to find their way in the dark.

I tried to follow one
then another, but each
disappeared before my eyes

leaving me alone
listening to the unknown
stirring in the darkness.

I pushed open a window
to let in the cool night air
and listened to the silence

that had settled
on the mountain sometime
after midnight.

In the pitch black forest silence
everything was now in place
rehearsing for an eternity

that would one day come.


  • Valeriu D.G. Barbu
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From → Zen Buddhism

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