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#1594 - Wednesday, October 22, 2003 - Editor: joyce (Know_Mystery)
Why are you so afraid of
silence is the root of everything.
If you spiral into its void
a hundred voices will thunder messages
you long to hear.
~ Rumi ~
'Hidden Music'; Maryam Mafi & Azima Melita Kolin
HE UNDERSTOOD what it is that we are trying to work out.
He was very old, & from the secret swing of planets
To the secret decencies in human hearts, he understood.
I used to watch him watering his lawn, scattering food for the woodpecker,
Sweeping the crossing before his house. It was not that there was light
About him, visible to the eye, as in the old paintings.
Rather, an influence came from him in little breaths.
When we were with him we became other.
He saw us all as if we were that which we dreamed ourselves.
He saw the town already clothed on for its Tomorrow,
He saw the world, beating like a heart, beating like a heart.
"How may I, too, know?" I wanted to cry to him. Instead
I only said: "And how is it with you?" But he answered
Both questions by the look in his eyes. For he had come to quietness.
He had come to the place where sun and moon meet
And where the spaces of the heavens open their doors.
He was understanding and love and the silence.
He was the voice of these, as he fed the woodpecker.
~ Zona Gale ~
The sun wasn't up yet; you could see the morning star through the trees. There was a silence that was really extraordinary. Not the silence between two noises or between two notes, but the silence that has no reason whatsoever the silence that must have been at the beginning of the world. It filled the whole valley and the hills.
The two big owls, calling to each other, never disturbed that silence, and a distant dog barking at the late moon was part of this immensity. The dew was especially heavy, and as the sun came up over the hill it was sparkling with many colours and with the glow that comes with the sun's first rays.
The delicate leaves of the jacaranda were heavy with dew, and birds came to have their morning baths, fluttering their wings so the dew on those delicate leaves filled their feathers. The crows were particularly persistent; they would hop from one branch to another, pushing their heads through the leaves, fluttering their wings, and preening themselves. There were about half-a-dozen of them on that one heavy branch, and there were many other birds, scattered all over the tree, taking their morning bath.
And this silence spread, and seemed to go beyond the hills. There were the usual noises of children shouting, and laughter; and the farm began to wake up.
It was going to be a cool day, and now the hills were taking on the light of the sun. They were very old hills probably the oldest in the world with oddly shaped rocks that seemed to be carved out with great care, balanced one on top of the other; but no wind or touch could loosen them from this balance.
It was a valley far removed from towns, and the road through it led to another village. The road was rough and there were no cars or buses to disturb the ancient quietness of this valley. There were bullock carts, but their movement was a part of the hills. There was a dry river bed that only flowed with water after heavy rains, and the colour was a mixture of red, yellow and brown; and it, too, seemed to move with the hills. And the villagers who walked silently by were like the rocks.
The day wore on and towards the end of the evening, as the sun was setting over the western hills, the silence came in from afar, over the hills, through the trees, covering the little bushes and the ancient banyan. And as the stars became brilliant, so the silence grew into great intensity; you could hardly bear it.
The little lamps of the village were put out, and with sleep the intensity of that silence grew deeper, wider and incredibly over-powering. Even the hills became more quiet, for they, too, had stopped their whisperings, their movement, and seemed to lose their immense weight.
Silence has many qualities. There is the silence between two noises, the silence between two notes and the widening silence in the interval between two thoughts. There is that peculiar, quiet, pervading silence that comes of an evening in the country; there is the silence through which you hear the bark of a dog in the distance or the whistle of a train as it comes up a steep grade; the silence in a house when everybody has gone to sleep, and its peculiar emphasis when you wake up in the middle of the night and listen to an own hooting in the valley; and there is that silence before the owl's mate answers. There is the silence of an old deserted house, and the silence of a mountain; the silence between two human beings when they have seen the same thing, felt the same thing, and acted.
That night, particularly in that distant valley with the most ancient hills with their peculiar shaped boulders, the silence was as real as the wall you touched. And you looked out of the window at the brilliant stars. It was not a self-generated silence; it was not that the earth was quiet and the villagers asleep but it came from everywhere - from the distant stars, from those dark hills and from your own mind and heart. This silence seemed to cover everything from the tiniest grain of sand in the river-bed - which only knew running water when it rained - to the tall, spreading banyan tree and a slight breeze that was now beginning. There is the silence of the mind which is never touched by any noise, by any thought or by the passing wind of experience. It is this silence that is innocent, and so endless. When there is this silence of the mind action springs from it, and this action does not cause confusion or misery.
The meditation of a mind that is utterly silent is the benediction that man is ever seeking. In this silence every quality of silence is.
~ Jiddu Krishnamurti ~ "The Only Revolution"
When this question Who am I? is raised, what results is silence, an ending of the entire thought-process. Be watchful: cling to this silence. This silence, though temporary, is the link between the 'I' and the Self. "True Silence where no thoughts exist, is the real state of Realisation," says Sri Bhagavan. The 'I' is a distortion of this state of quietude, being a movement, a wave in the ocean of stillness.
~ Ramana Maharshi ~
(From Sri Ramana, the Self Supreme by K. Swaminathan)
Aldous Huxley, On Silence
The twentieth century is, among other things, the Age of Noise. Physical noise, mental noise and noise of desire -- we hold history's record for all of them. And no wonder; for all the resources of our almost miraculous technology have been thrown into the current assault against silence. That most popular and influential of all recent inventions, the radio is nothing but a conduit through which pre-fabricated din can flow into our homes. And this din goes far deeper, of course, than the eardrums. It penetrates the mind, filling it with a babel of distractions, blasts of corybantic or sentimental music, continually repeated doses of drama that bring no catharsis, but usually create a craving for daily or even hourly emotional enemas. And where, as in most countries, the broadcasting stations support themselves by selling time to advertisers, the noise is carried from the ear, through the realms of phantasy, knowledge and feeling to the ego's core of wish and desire. Spoken or printed, broadcast over the ether or on wood-pulp, all advertising copy has but one purpose -- to prevent the will from ever achieving silence. Desirelessness is the condition of deliverance and illumination. The condition of an expanding and technologically progressive system of mass production is universal craving. Advertising is the organized effort to extend and intensify the workings of that force, which (as all the saints and teachers of all the higher religions have always taught) is the principal cause of suffering and wrong-doing and the greatest obstacle between the human soul and its Divine Ground.
~ Aldous Huxley ~~
(from Silence, Liberty and Peace; 1946)
One morning Buddha was to preach. But before he was able to speak a bird began singing at his door. Buddha remained silent. The morning wove its rays of sunlight through the trees and the bird continued to sing. Buddha kept silent and those with him were silent too. In that silence, in the emptiness, the bird's song had become divine. And when the song ended the silence grew even deeper. Buddha finally stood up to go. He said nothing that day.
~ A Zen Story ~
A Huge Silence Hiding ~ by Anonymous
When we hear a place called a "wilderness", we generally think of a place lacking any signs of human development. The 1964 Wilderness Act defines wilderness as a place "untrammeled by man". In the past few years, however, everyone from scientists to poets seem to be rediscovering the fact that a wilderness is far more than a place with something "absent" (i.e., civilization), but is rather an entirely different sort of civilization - a civilization whose nature and complexity is so vast, delicate and magnificently interrelated as to make our modern industrial civilization appear to be a crude sandbox kingdom built by stumbling children.
Wilderness uses immense amounts of energy, but uses its energy in a totally sustainable and remarkably efficient fashion. It produces (not just products, but life itself) at a rate and scale beyond the wildest dreams of modern factory owners, but its production processes do not generate a single bit of waste that cannot be fully reintegrated into itself. The more intelligent members of our species are beginning to look into wilderness with the attitude of the pupil instead of that of the dominator, and this shift in attitude is all it takes to throw open a hidden door to glistening treasures.One of those treasures is Silence.
To say that silence is nothing but the "lack of sound" is roughly similar to saying that wilderness is nothing but the "lack of buildings". Both are true, but are really only the first, introductory pages of immense books, and those who read no further remain oblivious to the full depth of experience therein. I still remember the first time I stumbled across the Huge Hidden Silence that weaves the fabric in which all sounds are dressed. It was in the middle of a Montana winter, and being young and remarkably stupid I had hiked alone into the Bitterroot mountains. It was a crystal clear night with a 1/4 moon and enough stars to choke a moose. My fire had burnt to embers and Iwas looking out over a large expanse of snowy pine forest. As I walked to the edge of the mountain upon which I was camping and looked down the long valley I had traversed that day, I began to become aware of something like an odd presence. It was rolling quietly towards the center of my thoughts, as early morning mist winds its way into valleys. As the sensation grew it finally seized my full attention, and in an instant the thought finally struck me - I am immersed in Silence.
Now on the surface this may not sound very earth-shattering, but you must understand this was an absolute Silence. Not a breath of wind, not a rustle, not a whisper. It was the sort of silence that is only possible in the dead of winter, in the depths of a wilderness. "So what", you may say (as, indeed, a friend of mine did when I mentioned this to her), "silence is all over the damn place, you just have to plug your ears".
Ah, the illusions of the uninitiated, the small and noisy world of the aurally unsophisticated. Simply because we don't have as many words for Silence as the Eskimos do for snow doesn't mean Silence itself is as limited as our vocabulary for it is. The word doesn't so much describe a single sensation as an enormous group of sensations. Silence can be golden, oppressive, pregnant, ominous, peaceful, or before the storm, as well as thousands of other things words cannot even hint at.
The particular Silence that lives in wilderness (or more precisely, whose door is only found in wilderness) is huge. In wilderness one touches the Mother Of All Silences, the Big Kahuna, the downright Galactic Silence in which the sun, moon and earth themselves float as leaves in an ocean. It is the Silence that makes all other silences appear to be lesser things, pathetic imitations, pretenders to the throne. All of the silences one finds in a city are but apprentice silences; some of them (when in optimistic moods) aspire, perhaps, to be much grander, but would still never be arrogant enough to compare themselves the Great One.
This is the Silence that stretches between galaxies; the Silence to which the big bang itself was nothing more than a noisy pebble dropped in a still pond. Excuse the inadvertent hoverings on the edge of the mystical, but even thinking about the Huge Silence does that. There is a good reason why the most brilliant prophets and wise ones have gone alone into wilderness on their truth hunts. Forty days in suburban Rome wouldn't have unleashed Jesus like forty days in the desert did. Buddha achieved enlightenment under a Bo tree, not a streetlamp. There is no such thing as an "Urban Shaman".
Few really bother to speculate as to why the most profound thinkers our race has known through its history seem to have all had a profound connection to wilderness in common, but I think I know why: Its the Huge Silence. Once you learn to hear it, it will tell you all you wish to know about virtually anything. It has witnessed unimaginable things, and graciously offers the totality of its wisdom to anyone who bothers to listen. And no, its not the same thing as plugging one's ears. Put your fingers in your ears and you immediately notice that awareness contracts - you become aware only of yourself and nothing else. This is radically different than having awareness thrown as utterly open as it can possibly be and still experiencing total silence. The silence becomes an invitation and not only is awareness not contracted, it is expanded beyond all the barriers of the individual self and merges with the entirety of the creation of which that self is really but a minuscule part. It is in this immense state of expansion where thoughts become large enough to be worthy of discourse with the eternals of the classical philosophers. There, in the Huge Silence, one finds Wisdom. There exists Truth with a capital T and Beauty with a capital B. There lives Love and Peace and an overwhelming sense of connection. Its substance is an unnamable essence that the religious would call God, an essence that can only be glimpsed when the continual noisy chatterings of our inner thoughts and outer civilization has been penetrated fully by the Huge Silence.
Our current civilization has banished such Silence. Certainly we cannot in any way harm it, but we can effectively close off all points of entrance into it - and we are now shockingly close to doing just that. There are very, very few places left, even in wilderness, where the experience is possible. Even deeper than that, though, is the fact that people have become afraid of it. The continual stimulation of media - TV, radio, conversation - seems too often sought out of hidden desperation rather than genuine desire. Silence simply knows too much, and its first small gift - for those willing to enter it - is self-knowledge. At first sometimes a terrible gift. But a gift nonetheless.
I remember a fellow I met in Montana years ago - a "Medicine Man" I think he would be called. I was bugging him to teach me things. He told me I didn't have the foggiest clue how to learn. I thought he was insulting and arrogant. He told me, almost as an offhand challenge, that if I thought I was ready, I should spend a single day - an entire day - simply sitting under a tree in the mountains. Nothing else, just that. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, just had to stay awake, and sit there. Sounded like the simplest thing in the world. It may be one of the single hardest days I've ever spent. Anyone, I think, that desires to face themselves, that desires a quest for knowledge, needn't fool with meditations, techniques, nor the hundred and one conveniently distracting ways of pursuing "growth". Nope. Just sit for a whole day in Silence. You will not need to seek self-knowledge, rather, you will not be able to escape it.
The Huge silence, however, holds something much greater than self-knowledge ... in fact, if one goes into it often enough, self-knowledge comes to be seen (in retrospect) as little more than an initial impediment to the juiciest prize: Creation Knowledge; or rather, not knowledge, but Entrance. At first that Silence draws one's unresolved dross to the surface. Then over time, it burns it away, and the Self behind the self stands revealed. But beyond that, in the face of continued forays into that Silence - even the true self evaporates into a mist. Even its whispers - so quiet they take years to hear - become little more than a noisy irritant, and final thing to be dispensed with. An impediment to total Silence. And THAT is the moment of "Entrance" ... when one can place ones self in a wilderness, a soundless place that has nothing striking the eardrums from the world, and exist there in a state in which all interior whispers have also ceased (however temporarily) ... THAT state, where the immensity of the inner silence directly touches the immensity of the galactic Silence, is where the essential nature of human existence finally becomes clear. We are Portals ... out of which immensity is continually passing, and through which it is continually returning to itself. The Noise we live in - of our outer urban worlds, our personality, voices, conflicts, and desires ... and even too often our "spiritual quests" effectively mute all awareness of the continual flow of immensity through our beings. We become as men and women, standing on small rocks, looking frantically around for water, looking everywhere, clutching after little drops of rain, and dew falling from trees, all the while oblivious to the fact that those rocks we are standing on are smack dab in the center of a raging river.
A persevering relationship with Silence is the way to the Entrance to the World. To get beyond the first plateau - the terror of being faced with a self with much unresolved - and even further, to get beyond the much more difficult second plateau - the exquisite enticement of a Self with most things resolved - is to become no longer a person, but rather to become - simply and profoundly - a place. To convey this notion in human words can't help but to imply that this is some sort of negation of the self. It is not. When a human consciousness reaches the state in which it can fully become just a place ... the place it becomes is the place where everything in all of creation happens.
When I speak, it is a demand that others remain silent so I alone may be heard. When I am silent, I hear my true self and reach my soul. When I am silent, I hear with a caring heart. Silence teaches us to know reality by respecting it where words have defiled it. If our life is poured out in useless words, we will never hear anything because we have said everything before we had anything to say. . .
~ Thomas Merton ~
FORTISSIMO - OF ESSAY AND MUSIC...
by Ken Fair. Jr. with much assistance from Chet Raymo
"How are we to understand the silence of the universe? They say that certain meteorites, upon entering the Earth's atmosphere. disintegrate with noticeable sound, but beyond the Earth's skin of air the sky is silent. There are no voices in the burning bush of the Galaxy. The Milky Way flows across the dark shoals of the summer sky without an audible ripple... we hear nothing... they fall like feathers... there is no soundtrack... Let us listen. Let us connect the multimillion-dollar telescopes to our kitchen radios and convert the radiant energy of the stars into sound. What would we hear? The random crackle of the elements. the static of electrons fidgeting benveen energy levels in the atoms of stellar atmospheres. The buzz of hydrogen. The hiss and sputter of matter intent upon obeying the stochastic laws of quantum physics. Random, statistical, indifferent noise...' (1) Melding art with science. the hypnotic music of ltalian astrophysicist and musician Dr. Fiorella Terenzi (2) and the inspiring Space Jazz multimedia concerts of Brazilian composer and musician Maria Emilia(3) brings the universe within hearing distance. lntrigued by the beauty and precision af the casmas, Maria Emilia interprets into musical symbols the scientific data sent by NASA spacecraft. Converting radio waves from galaxies into sound, Dr. Terenzi's Music of the Galaxies brings you the sounds of galaxy UGC 6697. Truly an off-world experience.
Another composer-musician. William Orbit (4), transports you out among the stars. His StrangeCargoHinterland raises strong emotional connections with "out there". Roy's Blade Runner soliloquy comes a live, coursing me through me as I am immersed in orbit's Hinterland. "I have seen things you people wouldn't believe ...ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate... Partly because of an, evidently, inherent inclination on my part and partly because as Orbit states, "I feel that I'm not in a territory that's been mapped out. ...I do sometimes feel that I have strayed into an uncharted area.
"I have often been surprised by the way people who do not know the constellations will instinctively and with ease pick out the Big Dipper. I have sometimes wondered if the pattern of those stars is genetically impressed upon the human brain, the way certain birds are born with the ability to recognize and follow the constellations on their migrations. Certainly no group of stars in northern skies has a longer or more prominent history. The Dipper is a repository of human brooding and human dreams. The Big Dipper... the Great Bear... has been known as a bear not only in the Western tradition, but also among the lndians of North America. It is difficult to recognized the figure of a bear in the patterns of the seven stars. Some chartmakers try to make a satisfactory outline of a bear by including nine or ten of the fainter surrounding stars. To me, this seems unlikely; the seven bright stars of the Dipper are far more prominent than the included others. The stars of the Dipper, like all stars, slowly change their positions on the celestial sphere [...proper motion], and it has occurred to many people that the constellation may have become Ursa Major at a time when the pattern of the seven stars more closely resembled the figure of a bear than it does today. But it is not difficult to calculate from present proper motions the positions of the Dipper stars at any time in the past (I have done it myself for many different eras), and at no time within the span of human history does the constellation evoke--to my mind at least--the outline of a bear. Then again, there is the delightful alternative suggestion that Ursa Major received its name at a time in the past when bears more closely resembled dippers!
...Who would surrender the Big Dipper? Who would forgo that wagonload of dreams or chase the Great Bear to permanent lair? One of Thoreau's companions claimed that a man could get along without the stars, though he would be considerably reduced in his circumstances; they were, he said, a kind of bread and cheese that never failed. The stars are bread and cheese, bread and wine, talismans and covenants. What would poets do without the stars, stars "dropping thick as stones into the twiggy / Picket of trees"? In summer's midnight sun the Eskimos wait for weeks for the Great Bear and find that it has been there all along, hidden in white arctic light, padding in great lopsided circles about the zenith.
...Every poet. every fox or badger, every moth or owl who has looked into the night has made one of the most important observations in the history of astronomy: The night sky is dark! The stars shine in a black sky. The Plough that is dragged about the pole furrows black soil. And the darkness of the night sky tells us more about the distant universe than do the stars. Black night is a paradox, rich in meaning.
...Our lives are rounded with dark. How insupportable would be the days. if the night with its dews and darkness did not come to restore the drooping world.' wrote Thoreau. As the shades begin to gather...we steal forth...like the inhabitants of the jungle, in search of those silent and brooding thoughts which are the natural prey of intellect.' The night sky is the hunting ground of the mystic and the philosopher, the scientist and the theologian. I have walked along a dark road on the brow of the hill for an hour. The Great Bear has clumped one-sixth of the way up the slope of the eastern sky. The Little Bear is swung by his tail about the pole. Zeus lusts for Callisto. Callisto lays down her quiver. Hera spins jealous designs. Callisto loves Arcas. Arcas is afraid. The arrow is poised on the bow.
"Tonight, in the infinitesimal light of the stars / The trees and flowers have been strewing their cool colors"; this is the third time in this night of meditation I have quoted from poems of Sylvia Plath. Each day is a little life, and each life is rounded with a little dark. The galaxies are rushing away from us, diluting their brilliance, darkening the sky. Night is the universe's youth. There are hedges at both sides of the road along which I walk, hedges of bramble and honeysuckle and fuchsia. The lanterns of the fuchsia dim their pale light, all their gaudy puce and scarlet gone, flown away with the galaxies. The universe is young. I walk in its adolescent light. Now there is time, "the trees may touch me for once. and the flowers have time for me." (5)
1 , Reprinted by permission of Hungry Mind Press. Chet Raymo. "The Soul of the Night, An Astronomical Pilgrimage". Copyright © 1992.
4 link no longer working
Be quiet in your
confusion, and bewildered.
When you're completely empty, within that silence,
you'll be saying, Lead me.
~ Rumi ~
Silence is our real nature. What we are fundamentally is only silence. Silence is free from beginning and end. It was before the beginning of all things. It is causeless. Its greatness lies in the fact that it simple is. In silence all objects have their home ground. It is the light that gives objects their shape and form. All movement, all activity is harmonized by silence.
Silence has no opposite in noise. It is beyond positive and negative. Silence dissolves all objects. It is not related to any counterpart which belongs to the mind. Silence has nothing to do with mind. It cannot be defined but it can be felt directly because it is our nearness. Silence is freedom without restriction or centre. It is our wholeness, neither inside nor outside the body. Silence is joyful, not pleasurable. It is not psychological. It is feeling without a feeler. Silence needs no intermediary. Silence is holy. It is healing. There is no fear in silence. Silence is autonomous like love and beauty. It is untouched by time. Silence is meditation, free from any intention, free from anyone who meditates. Silence is the absence of oneself. Or rather, silence is the absence of absence. Sound which comes from silence is music. All activity is creative when it comes from silence. It is constantly a new beginning. Silence precedes speech and poetry and music and all art. Silence is the home ground of all creative activity. What is truly creative is the word, is Truth. Silence is the word. Silence is Truth.
The one established in silence lives in constant offering, in prayer without asking, in thankfulness, in continual love.
~ Jean Klein ~
http:/ /home.clara.net/b.doyle/yoga4.htm -- link no longer active
is the friend of silence.
Trees, flowers, grass grow in silence.
See the stars, moon, and sun how they move in silence."
~ Mother Teresa ~
Panhala ~ Joe Riley
Another year gone,
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,
the uneaten fruits
in the shadows, unmattering back
from the particular
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere
in that black subterranean castle
of unobservable mysteries
- roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This
I try to remember when
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn
flares out at the last,
boisterous and like us longing
to stay - how everything lives, shifting
from one bright vision to
in these momentary pastures.
~ Mary Oliver ~
"In each of us, there is a silence, a silence as vast as the universe. We are afraid of it. And we long for it. And when we experience that silence, we remember who we are. Creatures of the stars, created from the birth of galaxies, created from the cooling of this planet, created from dust and gas, created from the elements, created from time and space, created from silence. Silence is the source of all that exists, the unfathomable stillness where vibration began, the first oscillation, the first word, from which life emerged. Silence is our deepest nature, our home, our common ground, our peace. Silence reveals, silence heals. Silence is where God dwells. We yearn to be there. We yearn to share it."
~ Gunilla Norris ~
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