Pupils Learn


“In keeping the center of the I empty, the miracle of life can enter and heal. It’s not by chance that the dark center of the human eye, the pupil, is actually an empty hole through which the world becomes known to us. Likewise, in a spiritual sense, the I is the empty center through which we see everything. It’s revealing that such a threshold is called the pupil, for it is only when we are emptied of all noise and dreams of ego that we become truly teachable.” - The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo

As I grow through my daily practice of silence, my trust in my inner observer continues to deepen. Through testimonies shared, I hear others recognizing their inner observer as well. I can describe her now as a patient, loving and consistently present. It’s a positive sign resulting from silence.


I think my greatest pivotal moment came when I viewed myself as a pupil of life rather than a victim of life’s circumstances. I still struggle and question and feel confused. I’m learning.

There are days I forget and react with my fear leading the way. My imagination helps me ground her presence, never abandoning, never judging, always loving and always present. It is my ego mind that turns away from her and wonders why she left me. It is my ego mind that judges and compares my insides to everyone around me. It is my ego mind.


We find our inner observer in our own way in our own time. As I write this, a memory of my father pops into my head. I was standing in his hospital room, a week before he died; he was calmly telling me he felt like he wasn’t alone. It was the first time I recognized a presence beyond his fear and tyranny. It comforted me he recognized something beyond his fear.

I continue to see metaphors everywhere around me. We are the microcosms within the macrocosm. I think about school, a place where we practice learning. Curiosity is free until life shuts us down. We react and adapt much like the trees near the ocean, their gnarled trunks a result of the strong winds and yet persist and grow due to their deep root systems.

We grow despite the battering we take from the stormy weather in our lives.

We have deep root systems and it’s not until a crisis or catastrophe that we discover our true depth. We discover ourselves beyond our egoic mind. We discover deeper meaning. We glean from our harsh lessons and we keep going one day at a time.


I chose a short poem by Mark Nepo entitled Paia which means noisy in the Hawaiian language.


Paia, a Clearing in the Forest

by Mark Nepo


We agree to meet half way

round the world where the ocean

waited thousands of years before

opening its clear mouth to speak

this island under the sun. All to

remember we are students of the

large stillness, struggling with our

little stillness. Never knowing what

will rise between us, we meet beyond

the bamboo forest and bend in

the light, hollow as these stalks,

listening for a trace of the

beginning, as we do.