Let us all admit that a tremendous “knowing” comes effortlessly into the mind when it falls into silence, when it gives up trying to understand, when its reel of stored images no longer projects abstract pictures onto the clean screen of simplicity.
This kind of knowing is transmitted to us as pure revelation, as clarity untouched by words or other symbols of meaning. When we allow this knowing into our minds, our very lives become as clear and startling as this knowing.
This silent knowing unifies and makes whole what had seemed piecemeal and fragmented. In this wholeness, we experience a oneness of being in which internal and external conflicts are resolved in an encompassing unity. For purposes of conversation, we must name this silent intelligence, this wholeness of being and clarity of perception. It has been named before: Self, Source, Being, Presence, Atman, Tao, Soul. I will refer to it as Silence, for that is what it is and that is how we experience it. Silence is the sacred hub of the universe out of which everything appears and around which everything revolves.
Silence is not a thing which can be held in the hand, like a brick, nor is it an abstraction, like patriotism, a mere idea which we enliven with our own energy. Silence is pure primordial awareness: the transcendently intelligent current of life that animates everything in existence. Silence is what holds us, and Silence is what gives us energy. It is towards Silence that we turn for sustenance and guidance in times of confusion, fear, doubt, and sadness. We seem to intuit that Silence is the antidote for our ailments and answers to our questions.
We do not, however, have to wait for a precipitating life event to remind us of Silence. We can learn to live such that we sense Silence speaking to us constantly, guiding us constantly, inspiring us constantly. We can learn to allow Silence into our life every moment, which is to say that we must learn to pay attention to Silence, which is always present, even in the midst of our busy and complex lives.
Learning to pay attention to Silence is easy; in fact, it requires virtually no technique or method. We simply have to be still, be still, until the soft thickness and weightless presence of Silence comes forward. We have to learn to feel that which surrounds us.
Within each of us are mountains and meadows, forests and deserts, oceans and glacial lakes, vast stretches of uninhabited wilderness, endless skies of light and darkness, slowly-turning galaxies—each and all of which exist in and as Silence. This is why we seek these things in the “external” world, because they immediately invoke Silence, and Silence comes forth to claim us. In stillness, we automatically find ourselves in the midst of those ancient stands of redwoods, those craggy cliffs, those peaks rising beyond where our eyes can see. And then Silence appears. Be still, and Silence appears. The Indian poet Kabir fell into Silence within himself, and he wrote, “I reached the place inside me where the world is breathing.”
We have all experienced intimations of Silence and we have all experienced its cleansing effect on the confusion, fear, and doubt of the mind. Silence is outside of time, outside of convention, outside of expectation, outside of self-concept. This is the place in which the whole world breathes. It is a place known to us, though we may not remember; familiar, though we may not admit it; treasured, though we may discount it; utterly real, though we cannot prove it.
Silence simply is, without qualification or condition
When we enter the sacred hub of Silence, we are able to answer the questions of living through being. The only impediment is the outward turned mind which creates, projects, and identifies with imaginary things. To neutralize our belief in imaginary things, we sit, simply, with our minds turned inward, with our bodies given over to the pristine wilderness within us.
There is a natural expansion of awareness that occurs in Silence. This expansive awareness is innate. This silent awareness speaks without words and acts without thought. Whether speaking or acting, Silence is striking and sudden; its clarity is spontaneous.
We might think that only special people are endowed with Silence. This is not true. No one is more Silent than you. No one is more true than you. No one knows how to live better than you. Look silently into a mirror. What you see is Silence, truth, and knowledge. All we have to do is see what is within us, and then we will see it everywhere. We tend to discount our own capacity to know Silence now, as we are. We tend to distrust the spontaneous knowing that comes to us from Silence, because it often contradicts and violates the conventions of our own thinking. It is easier to pretend that someone else has come upon the shores of Silence, not us.