The Silence

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Image by Andrezj Bertowski

Shadkow

Lonely moments are solitude’s shadow.
What sun
forgoes the opportunity to play
with its light and
cast darkness
between rays?
Sitting quietly I
bask daily
in his glow
but today
he plays hide and go seek.
Mellow moments
slither up like a snake.
I stand in rapt stillness.

Kevin Joel Kelly

*

“The heart has all the space it needs for compassion, but the ego doesn’t.” — JoAnna Hardy

He found that language did not even penetrate this realm, although language seemed to spill out of it like a new river gushing out of a mountain bedrock. He experienced himself in deep contact with everything around him and the self that he felt himself to be was fluid and continuous with this everything. There was no separation nor even the possibility of separation. There was only an ongoing flowing and he was part of it and he was it and it was everything.” — Steve Gallegos, Dream Visits: Stories for the Inner Child, vol.3

We have made a noisy civilization because we can’t bear silence. We run from silence. It’s dangerous to those who don’t want the truth about themselves. Watching inner and outer life in calm silence reveals its essence. That’s the last thing we want to know. We don’t want to face our runaway busyness and what’s behind it.

There’s a little problem with a culture like this; it lives for distraction and superficiality. We want to be transported away from the confused and self contradictory being we are. Opening ourselves to our confusion and our incessant drive to escape it is frightening. We don’t want to know that we are trying to jump out of our skin, to “escape.”

Escape is seen as an unspoken positive, as if we all know that reality is unpleasant and depressing.

Silence can make us squirm. A silent mind? No thank you.

And yet, the ancient traditions extol the quiet mind and meditation as a path to silence the mind. Some traditions advise techniques to force the mind to shut up, but a mind coerced into silence is anesthetized, not naturally silent. Silence comes from watching and understanding, not forcing. You would know that from raising children.

Can a noisy, superficial culture be wise? That’s my question. It seems to me the answer is no, it cannot. It can’t see the world. It’s too busy entertaining itself with amusements.

Of course life is to be enjoyed. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m simply pointing out the path we’re on, which is full of ignorance of what kind of being we are and the nature of the connections that sustain us moment by moment.

A personal awareness that plunges into silence catches a very different vision of what’s going on here. Suddenly tenderness, empathy and love play a huge part of life, simply because you become capable of it yourself. The whole panorama shifts from quotidian to miraculous. Some people call this the “cracking open of the heart.” But first comes silence, a quiet mind, a willingness to face and listen to the actual condition. When the truth of that condition hits home, something opens, something that was hidden becomes evident.

That’s a different world, mentally. Our life on earth has to be created out of such a mind or we’re done.

Sorry to put it so bluntly, but that’s the fact we must face. In the aggregate, humanity has a long way to go before such a way of being is common, but more and more individuals approach it. I’ve read that 1% is the tipping point.

That’s encouraging.

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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