Have you ever gazed up in the night sky away from the city, and seen the billions of stars smeared across the entire canvas of your vision? You can’t see that living in the city, our lights drown out the subtlety of the night sky. It’s the same with our mind, the noisy thoughts drown out the subtlety of being. That is why all mystical traditions have always called for inner silence.
This kind of silence doesn’t mean keeping the mouth shut and not speaking. It’s much more profound than that, and yet today we can’t even do that. Send someone to a silent retreat for three days and they almost go out of their mind! Not speaking is only the doorway. We are referring to inner silence where even thoughts do not matter.
In the beginning this is hard to imagine, how can thoughts not matter? I think therefore I am, right? No, actually you are. That is all. You are aware, that is all it takes to exist. Everything else is embellishment. So, we allow thoughts to come and go but we do not cling, nor follow, nor pay attention. They come and go like clouds. Our attention is what feeds the generation of thoughts, and without that attention, eventually there is a calming and we come closer to the silence.
One way to approach this is through the path of humility. When we think we know everything and treat ourselves as the center of the universe then one thing we do not have is a silent mind. In such a case, the mind is anything but silent – judgments, declarations, and opinions abound! But when we realize our place in all of this existence, a little humility enters and turns down the volume.
Many would say that becoming silent inside means an end to personal freedom, as they equate speech to the freedom of speech. But this is a whole other dimension than superficial social concepts. Becoming silent within means our compulsions have dissipated. If you are not compulsive, you have ended your bondage. So inner silence means true freedom. Silence is not about denying yourself life, quite the opposite – deep abiding silence opens you up to life because up to now, life could not speak to you with all the noise going on in the head.
Silence also frees up energy. It takes a lot of energy to constantly protect and maintain the self-image we have built for ourselves. Silence isn’t something we do, silence is something we become. Stillness and silence are the vehicles that take us from the mind level, into consciousness, then into awareness, and eventually at the level of unfolding life itself.
As the Divine says, “It is in the uncluttered mind that I come, it is in the unchained heart that I live.”
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