The teaching of the buddhas is: Find time and a place to remain unoccupied. That's what meditation is all about. Find at least one hour every day to sit silently doing nothing, utterly unoccupied, just watching whatsoever passes by inside. In the beginning you will be very sad, looking at things inside you; you will feel only darkness and nothing else, and ugly things and all kinds of black holes appearing. You will feel agony, no ecstasy at all. But if you persist, persevere, the day comes when all these agonies disappear, and behind the agonies is the ecstasy.
One of the surprises of her unoccupied state was the discovery that time, when it is left to itself and no definite demands are made on it, cannot be trusted to move at any recognized pace. Usually it loiters; but just when one has come to count upon its slowness, it may suddenly break into a wild irrational gallop.
The city of Washington is in some respects self-contained, and it is easy there to forget what the rest of the United States is thinking about. I count it a fortunate circumstance that almost all the windows of the White House and its offices open upon unoccupied spaces that stretch to the banks of the Potomacand that as I sit there I can constantly forget Washington and remember the United States.
I am deep in my willed habits. From the outside, I suppose I look like an unoccupied house with one unconvincing night-light left on. Any burglar could look through my curtains and conclude I am empty. But he would be mistaken. Under that one light unstirred by movement or shadows there is a man at work, and as long as I am at work I am not a candidate for Menlo Park, or that terminal facility they cynically call a convalescent hospital, or a pine box. My habits and the unchanging season sustain me. Evil is what questions and disrupts.
The great purpose is to set aside a reasonable part of the vanishing wilderness, to make certain that generations of Americans yet unborn will know what it is to experience life on undeveloped, unoccupied land in the same form and character as the Creator fashioned it... It is a great spiritual experience. I never knew a man who took a bedroll into an Idaho mountainside and slept there under a star-studded summer sky who felt self-important that next morning. Unless we preserve some opportunity for future generations to have the same experience, we shall have dishonored our trust.
Provide of thine own, to have all things at hand; Less work and the workman, unoccupied, stand. Make dry over-head both hovel and shack. Wash sheep (for the better) where water doth run; Let him go cleanly, and dry in the sun. Thy houses and and barns would be looked upon; And all things a[...]ed, ere harvest come on. At midsummer, down with the brambles and brakes; And after, abroad, with thy forks and thy rakes; Set movers a mowing, where meadow is grown; The longer now standing, the worse to be mown.
Broken Window Theory: Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or even break into cars.
James Q. Wilson
For such is the noble nature of man, that his heart will never wholly lose itself in one single passion or idol, or, as people call it apologetically, one idea. On it goes from one devotion to the next, not because it is ashamed of its first love, but because it must be on fire perpetually. To fall for Reason, as our grandfathers did, is but one Fall of Man among his many passionate attempts to find the apples of knowledge and eternal life, both in one. When a nation, or individual, declines the experiences that present themselves to passionate hearts only, they are automatically turned out from the realm of history. The heart of man either falls in love with somebody or something, or it falls ill. It can never go unoccupied. And the great question for mankind Is what is to be loved or hated next, whenever an old love or fear has lost its hold.
Indeed, he could not be long in discovering that people beyond a suspicion of unbalance, or not obviously coveting the moment's arrest of attention gained them by their statements, never had experience with or knowledge of the restless dead. Slowly accepting this as evidence that no such things existed, Mr. Lecky found terrors deeper, and to him more plausible, to fill that unoccupied place - the simple sense of himself alone, and, not unassociated with it, the conception of a homicidal maniac quietly pursuing him. The first was exemplified by chance solitude in what he had considered deep woods. No part in it was played by natural dismay which he might have felt at finding himself lost, and none by any tangible suggestion of danger. Mr. Lecky could not even remember where or when it was. Long ago, under a seamless gray sky which would probably end with snow; in an autumnal silence free from birds, unmoved by the least breath of wind, he had come to be walking at random impulse. Leaves, yellow, tan, drifted deep and loose over the difficulties of an uneven hillside. His feet crashed and crackled in them. He was not going anywhere. He had nothing in mind. It might have been this receptive vacancy of thought which let him, little by little, grow aware of a menace. The unnatural light leaf-buried ground, the low dark sky, the solitary noise of his unskilled progress - none of them was good. He began to notice that though the fall of leaves left an apparent bright openness, in reality it merely pushed to a distance the point at which the woods became as impenetrable as a wall. He walked more and more slowly, listening, hearing nothing; looking, seeing nothing. Soon he stopped, for he was not going any farther. Standing in the deep leaves beneath trees bare and practically dead in the catalepsy of impending winter, he knew that he did not want to be here. A great evil - no more to be named than, met, to be escaped - waited fairly close. So he left. He got out of those woods onto an open road where he need not watch for anything he could not see.
James Gould Cozzens
When he had eaten, Mr. Lecky lay down on his cot, though he did not expect to sleep. The four lanterns continued to shed their thin floods of light. Against the dark, this illumination set the varied, ill-matched shapes of his assembled defenses. Studying the odd wall, in spirit unquiet, Mr. Lecky was reminded of his childhood - not in any detail of actual reminiscence, but more deeply, less coherently. He seemed to recall himself, unreally small and young, in concealment under a table. A table had been fort enough, for his enemies were imaginary. He never imagined them winning. Even at that early period, furniture would only be useful against foes which he had invented to play with. Tables could not have protected him from bears or wolves. Perhaps he had been taught, by his amused elders, a conventional fear of bears. Unassisted, he had picked up a private fear of wolves. Bears were no more than vague monsters coming at night, never distinct or well defined. But of wolves his unruly imagination could produce whole lifelike packs such as those which he had somehow been led to believe pursued any sleigh venturing out, three frantic horses abreast, in perpetually snow-sunk Russia. At a brief later stage he had entertained, fruit of the new-found ability to read, some concern about ghosts. His spectres were, however, practically people, if hideous, gaunt and pale ones. It was doubtful if he ever actually believed in them, in the sense of fearing that he might meet one. His eyesight had always been good, so it played him none of the terrifying tricks necessary to confirm a belief in the supernatural. Indeed, he could not be long in discovering that people beyond a suspicion of unbalance, or not obviously coveting the moment's arrest of attention gained them by their statements, never had experience with or knowledge of the restless dead. Slowly accepting this as evidence that no such things existed, Mr. Lecky found terrors deeper, and to him more plausible, to fill that unoccupied place - the simple sense of himself alone, and, not unassociated with it, the conception of a homicidal maniac quietly pursuing him.
James Gould Cozzens