“There is a story that tells of Meister Eckhart’s meeting with a poor man: “You may be holy,” says Eckhart, “but what made you holy, brother?” And the answer comes: “My sitting still, my elevated thoughts, and my union with God.” It is useful for our present theme to note that the practice of sitting still is given pride of place.
In the Middle Ages people were well aware of the inexhaustible power that arises simply from sitting still. After that time, knowledge of the purifying power of stillness and its practice was, in the West, largely lost. The tradition of preparing man for the breakthrough of transcendence by means of inner quiet and motionless sitting has been preserved in the East to the present day. Even in cases where practice is apparently directed not to immobility but towards activity–as in archery, sword fighting, wrestling, painting, flower arrangement–it is always the inner attitude of quiet and not the successful performance of the ways which is regarded as of fundamental importance.
Once a technique has been mastered, any inadequate performance is mirrored in wrong attitudes. The traditional knowledge of the fact that it is possible for a man to be inwardly cleansed solely through the practice of right posture has kept alive the significance of correct sitting. The inner quiet which arises when the body is motionless and in its best possible form can become the source of transcendental experience. By emptying ourselves of all those matters that normally occupy us we become receptive to Greater Being.