Becoming Silent


Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Let us be silent – so we may hear the whisper of the gods.”  This rings so true in spirituality and mysticism.  From the most basic instruction in a beginner meditation class to the practices of enlightened sages and masters across the world’s traditions, it seems silence is foundational.  That is because only once the outer self is silent, can one hear the inner Self.  And that hearing is subtle, so subtle that it’s more being than hearing.

But how to achieve this silence?  Today our senses are literally bombarded with noise and input from all fronts.  Whether corporate marketing campaigns, or our social media platforms, or our friends and family members – everyone has something to say and we are drowning in that noise.  Even if a moment’s peace arrives late in the night, then our own mind will not shut up!

You see, the problem is that we are enamored with our own thoughts.  We are fully identified with this mind / body complex and automatically entangled with all thoughts that it generates.  It’s a compulsive cycle of likes and dislikes self-generating a constant do-loop which we exacerbate even more by what we feed in by way of media or biased conversations with people who share our viewpoints.

To be silent means to first, stop verbalizing the compulsive stream of thoughts that are generated by our ego sifting through our memories, and second, quiet our mind to a level at which it no longer spews out thoughts in the first place.  This habit of constantly having something to say is really nothing more than an ego feeding itself.  And so, it’s no surprise to learn that becoming silent begins with cultivating humility.  It continues with acknowledging how little we know, in fact that we don’t know anything about this wonderous existence.  And in sheer awe, we fall silent.

This happens when we realize that thoughts are just memories being recycled by the brain.  This happens when we find a little space between our eternal awareness that always was, and the body/mind complex.  This happens when we touch life.

Instead of a stream of judgements and proclamations about one topic or another, we simply sit in reverence and wonderment of life.  We recognize our smallness in all of the cosmos, and we meditate on that diminishing smallness until we become zero.  And then, in the ultimate paradox of becoming zero, we become everything.

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