There are varying levels of silence from the stonewalling of a negative reaction, to the sublime Samadhi of meditation. Not forgetting the negative silence of complicity that allows all kinds of evil to prevail.
But the silence that I speak of is that which permeates ones whole being no matter what circumstances prevail.
Many people are uncomfortable with silence, in fact for some it is anathema, and so they fill the silence with aimless chatter and distracting pursuits.
It is not really the practice of silence that achieves this sacred space, but practicing mindfulness, that allows one to observe the silence that is a constant.
In 1995 following a turbulent emotional period in my life I decided to take a month long pilgrimage by walking the “Way of St James” otherwise known as “El Campesino” the famous pilgrim’s route to “Santiago De Compestela” through Northern Spain.
At the time of embarking on this marathon walk I had discovered meditation and had already understood from a superficial perspective the value of silence. But even before attending formal meditation classes I observed a profound silence that occurred during a very stressful time when I was attempting to operate a new computer system for my office.
This was in 1985 and I was in the role of a Money Advice Co-coordinator for the Citizens Advice Bureau. Computer systems were not an accepted reality in the Citizen’s Advice Bureaux during the eighties and so it was very much left to me to purchase something I knew little about then devise systems compatible to operate said system. I had been working overtime for the past five nights, compiling systems and then trying to upload them. On the fifth night I was frustrated and stressed to the extreme, there was no-one else in the offices as everyone else had finished and gone home at 5-0 p.m. My head was bursting and my whole body felt irritated and tense, then, just when I was about to give up and accept defeat, a profound silence surrounded me. This silence was palpable and I felt totally detached from what I was doing, as if a part of me was watching me. With no thoughts in my mind my hands flew over keys and pressed buttons and within a few minutes what had frustrated me for days, fell into place and the project was complete.
It was not until after this that I considered the “state” that had arisen within or around me.
Now this state is normal for me and I would feel strange without it.
But it was upon walking 10 to 15 miles daily on the “Way of St James” that silence became my constant companion. The magical discoveries I made on this pilgrimages is subject of another article for another time.
In 1993 I had experienced the joy of living with Eckhart Tolle for a short while, before his rise to stardom as a New Age Guru. He also valued silence. So profound was our silence and energy streaming between each other that a visitor once remarked that we seemed extremely close as in partners. We were friends but not partners as in the accepted “couples” way.
Since these events I have deliberately included silent retreats in my life. This ranges from 10 day Vipassana Courses, to month long silent retreats in Buddhist Meditation Centres both in Sri Lanka and China. It is necessary I believe for everyone to find a way to clear out minds of accumulated clutter. Much like we store too much unnecessary junk in our homes, so we store unnecessary junk in our minds.
Now this silence is the larger part of my being and it becomes quite noticeable when with others who find silence uncomfortable. They often fidget and fret and fill the silent space with aimless gossip and chatter.
That is not to say that we cannot sometimes enjoy a good gossip to keep us in touch with our more human side. But for me after a while I find this aimless chatter as uncomfortable as others find the silence.
Human’s need silence to sense the “silent music of the spheres”
to fill the living moment with the sacredness of the eternal.
I wish everyone had these moments of grace and stillness in their hearts.
Maybe it would lead to world peace……sometime……soon…….
I pray……..meditate……….and dream it awake…….
“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has purpose.”
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross ~