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D.H. Lawrence - 'Sitting in a timeless stillness'
by Craig Pearson, Ph.D.
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24 August 2012
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The English novelist E.M. Forster called D.H. Lawrence ''the greatest imaginative novelist of our generation.''1
The following passage comes from Lawrence's novel The Rainbow. The main character is caring for a small child and is seeking shelter from a storm:
He opened the doors, upper and lower, and they entered into the high, dry barn, that smelled warm even if it were not warm. He hung the lantern on the nail and shut the door. They were in another world now. The light shed softly on the timbered barn, on the white-washed walls, and the great heap of hay; instruments cast their shadows largely, a ladder rose to the dark arch of a loft. Outside there was the driving rain, inside, the softly illuminated stillness and calmness of the barn.
Holding the child on one arm, he set about preparing the food for the cows, filling a pan with chopped hay and brewer's grains and a little meal. The child, all wonder, watched what he did. . . . She was silent, quite still.
In a sort of dream, his heart sunk to the bottom, leaving the surface of him still, quite still. . . .
The two sat very quiet. His mind, in a sort of trance, seemed to become more and more vague. He held the child close to him. . . . Gradually she relaxed, the eyelids began to sink over her dark, watchful eyes. As she sank to sleep, his mind became blank.
When he came to, as if from sleep, he seemed to be sitting in a timeless stillness.2
Lawrence describes the experience of the mind becoming still while remaining awake. After the man enters the barn, his mind moves inward (''his heart sunk to the bottom'') and becomes increasingly settled until, finally, ''his mind became blank.'' Yet he is not asleep—in some way he remains awake.
If you practice the Transcendental Meditation technique, you'll recognize the process of transcending in this description. When we transcend, the mind settles inward, moving through subtler levels of awareness. Then the mind transcends thought altogether, leaving consciousness alone and awake within itself. We experience consciousness in its pure state—silent, serene, unbounded, like an ocean having become calm.
Even the setting acts as a metaphor for transcendence. Lawrence describes the barn as ''another world.'' Outside is the driving rain, inside ''the softly illuminated stillness and calmness of the barn.''
When the man's mind becomes active again, he feels he remains in a ''timeless stillness.'' Each time we transcend during Transcendental Meditation practice, the mind retains something of the experience of pure consciousness, indicating that our mental potential is growing.
It's not surprising that someone like D.H. Lawrence, with his profuse creativity, would have this inner experience. The field of pure consciousness is an infinite reservoir of creativity and intelligence. It is the source of thought, the source of every form of creative expression, the wellspring of genius. Highly creative people are highly creative because, by some good luck, they have greater access to this inner ocean of creativity.
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1. E.M. Forster, Letter to The Nation and Atheneum, March 29, 1930. Quoted in ''D.H. Lawrence,'' en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D._H._Lawrence. Accessed June 4, 2012.
2. D.H. Lawrence, The Rainbow (first edition: London, Methuen & Co.  (New York: Random House, Modern Library, 1943), 70-71.
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