‘The Philosopher. Silence’ – Nicholas Roerich, 1940 – WikiArt
“Of the unknowable only silence talks.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Silence is always called upon us. Once we have stopped engaging with our endless thoughts, once we have released the rage of our permanent search towards happiness, once the dance of our daily relentless activities has died down, then silence is here always present. Silence is here to re-collect us into itself. It is a never failing embrace, always available, always ready to mother us, always pregnant in and behind every one of our failures or pains, of our battles with ourself and with the world.
In a way, silence could be said to be the mother of a symphony of sounds. Silence is a sound enhancer, and by extension, a revealer of objectivity. But notice that we stop hearing anything when the space of silence is filled with an overcrowding of sounds. Any sound is then only participating in the general cacophony. This is the same with awareness. If our mind — this presence that we are — is filled to the brim with objective experiences, so as to seem to become itself a big object, it then becomes impossible for this mind to find any space within itself to experience objects as objects, and to notice that in which these are appearing. The space of awareness goes unnoticed with the pregnancy of objects, just as silence goes unnoticed with the cover of sounds.
Who is able, or mature enough, in the formidable presence of silence, to just bathe in it, and melt one’s presence with its ethereal substance? We must confess that, for many of us, silence is often lived as a subtle form of threat. Because we love company. We are so used to live in the company of objects. So this silence comes to challenge our dearly acquired comfort, all our illusions, the balance we have created for ourself — be it a precarious one. We feel a strange unease in the presence of silence, so we occupy the space, fill it with our thoughts, reach for a book, turn on the television, anything, so that we don’t have to feel the death that is implied in silence. We don’t want to be silenced.
This is the mind’s most pregnant fear, to know this form of death. The mind wants to thrive, to make itself useful, to show its competence in everything, and be the one with the last word. It wants to have it all on its own terms. It is not ready to abdicate, to be silenced. Little does the mind know that silence is in fact its only solace, the ultimate resolution of its continual and deeply ingrained conflicts. Silence is a slow march towards the dissolving of everything that is at the level of temporary appearances. It is the revelation of what we truly are, the essence of our true and foremost being.
But true silence is death to the mind, and that kind of price can only be paid knowingly. So the mind must get to know silence, let it pay a little visit, let it reveal itself — all its hidden secrets and qualities. For silence has two sides. It also calls us, attracts us, fascinates us. We have the intuition of its value and importance — maybe a distant intimation that silence is not just the absence of sound, but is the echo of a place in ourself that has emptiness as its nature. A place that is before every noise, every objective appearances, and all the gesticulations that are here solely as an attempt to soothe our sense of loss and pain.
‘Brahmaputra: – Nicholas Roerich, 1945 – WikiArt
Why should we find silence so attractive, something to be searched for, if it was only the absence of noise or sound? I think our love for silence is an intimation, a memory of something that is always present in our experience, but has been filled and covered up with all our noisy hopes and expectations, the endless projections and worries, the regrets and everything that we hope can heal us, and renders us happy, somewhat, at last. We would do anything to get that lost sense of peace back. This is when silence gives us its gentle tap, recalling in us the memory of a lost paradise.
So silence is here to silence or undermine the mind. It is a contagious reality. It will draw you into itself. You’d be wrongly advised to offer some resistance, to be afraid of its gentle touch. For silence has only good intentions. It wants to reveal to you its own nature — which is your nature too. It wants you to get acquainted with its restful being, all the peace and happiness contained within it. Silence invites.
You may feel seduced, but are still shy to give in to its advances. You may not yet see that this silence is already your very being. You have been married to it from the beginning of ages. It is the eternal promise which you have been longing for. But the implications are overwhelming. The engagement needed is total. It frightens you. You turn around for help. The security of your delusory yet secure and solid sense of self is luring you back towards itself. But you have now the vision of this old sense of self as being just a lost, agitated wave in this ocean of silence.
Silence is now so compelling. So attractive. You want to let go. Letting go is revealed as the only real thing to do. The only possibility. And the only joy. Silence is joy. It may not feel that way at first sight. But you now need to really get to know this silence. It has qualities beyond your imagination. Beyond what you could ever expect. Silence will dress you with its blooming presence. Invade your being with its being. Silence is fullness too.
Now you are being silence itself. You are made of its peaceful nature. Silence is your very being. The whole of life moves gently and impeccably within it. And this life is your very being too. This life is the very body of silence, its secret making, its deepest nature. All the many sounds and variations of experience are now discovered to be made of the very silence of which they are only an expression.
Now silence reveals itself. You can visit its interior as it were. Above and beyond its making as the tissue of multiple experiences and appearances, silence is made of everything you have always wished for yourself. It is made of beauty. It is made of peace. It reveals itself as happiness. It expresses itself as love.
[Silence is now widening its presence] Ah! Silence… This being of my being.
Text by Alain Joly
Paintings by Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947)
Read these many quotes on silence by various spiritual teachers in ‘The Highest Language’…
– Nicholas Roerich (Wikipedia)
– Other ‘Essays’ from the blog…
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