It is the space in between sounds. It is the canvas behind all words. It is an absolutely vital part of life, which would otherwise be a cacophony of unintelligible noise.
Every day, silence is with you, helping you to make sense of life. Every day, you probably don’t notice it. Instead, people are typically distracted by the noises going on around them. The noise gets all of our attention. Silence gets almost none.
Today, however, we are going to turn our attention to silence. As we mature on the spiritual path, we not only see the value of silence, but we also realize how critically important it is. It does a number of wonderful things without doing anything, and one of which is simply giving our brains and bodies time to relax. Noise and other forms of agitation can be incredibly stimulating, and they require us to think and interact in someway. Silence is soothing because it requires nothing of us. When we’re too used to noise, the opposite is initially true for many people because the noise was being used to block out issues and uncomfortable feelings inside that have to come up before we really rest in silence. But with dedication and inner work, those issues get resolved, and you start melting into silence.
The End of a Wave of Issues
After a spiritual awakening, a person may have to do years of deep inner work on their attachments. One of the things that I emphasize to my students who are newly awakened is that it’s time to get in this for the long haul. Initially, everyone seems to think this shift will be over shortly or that they can straddle two worlds at once–their old way of living and living in reality. But that only extends the suffering, and this short term view often puts people in places of financial and other forms of distress that are not needed. There are a lot of issues that people have to deal with after awakening, so there’s no need to create more by not taking this shift seriously.
Those who awaken dig in for the long haul also dig out lots of nasty issues. However at some point, things even out inside–not outside. The outside world is never done having its ups and downs. For the individual, it seems to be that many people come to a natural flow at a certain point, and while they may still have core issues and other attachments hanging around, those issues no longer have the same force to disrupt the person’s inner flow. They are far more easily accepted and released, and because of this deep acceptance, the person continues to melt more deeply into the silence of the soul.
The Loss of Mental Noise
Conscious people are all different in terms of how quiet their minds are. So how much mental noise is going on really isn’t quite as interesting as how interested the person still is in that noise. The more attached they are in their thoughts and beliefs, the more the noise continues. But even then, it becomes easier and easier to let it go. It’s like a three ring circus is going on, but the person no longer cares as much about the acts. You tend to want to step out of the big top and into the spaciousness outside more than you want to see what all those clowns are doing. As such, mental noise continues to quiet, but that’s not all.
For the sake of this spiritual awakening blog post, I want to encourage you to expand your concept of noise to tension in the body and emotional swings. The more upset these areas are, the more upset the mind tends to be in response. They are often all negatively reinforcing each other, meaning that if we get intellectually upset about something then our emotions shift and our bodies tense in certain ways depending on the triggered issue. But as you melt more into your natural silence, the cascade of toppling dominoes gets stopped sooner. You can feel what the mind’s belief is about to do to the body, and you breathe and relax instead of reacting to it. You may look at this crazy little belief with curiosity, but less inclination to believe it. If you wake up feeling poorly in your body, you allow yourself to feel poorly in the body, but you don’t create or follow beliefs to get upset about feeling poorly. All in all, you lose interest in anything that disturbs the peace inside of you, and that tends to lead towards deeper quality of physical, mental, and emotional silence.
Witnessing Upsetting Experiences in Silence
A lot of your life isn’t about you. Whether someone or something tries to impose itself or not, most of what is going on are the unconscious workings of a world that doesn’t see you. So we turn towards the unseeable silence within to watch these things. Sure, sometimes, others may attempt to do things to us, but this too is another practice in watching and seeing what really needs to be done. Most of the time, people are triggering each other and causing a cascading set of events that lead to more suffering. So it is a new practice to simply watch and witness others. If someone insults you, watch in silence. You may still have mental objections and responses. They may cause emotional and/or physical turbulence; you may feel upset. But if you keep bringing your attention to the space of the awareness–the truest space of silence within you–these human upsets will subside. Most insults and other things do not require any response anyway. You can neutralize these situations by staying in the peace of your awareness.
This continued practice of witnessing has the important benefit of re-constructing your human tendencies so that your stronger tendency moves towards this kind of neutrality rather than to the reactive instinctual fight-flight patterns that are the foundation of most every human ego. Never underestimate the power of these instinctual patterns. Core issues are profound, but the instinctual animal body is the foundation for those beasts. And these hidden monsters are what we start to see more and more clearly as we rest in silence.
Finding Greater Ease Through Silence
Because you are becoming more accustomed to silence, a greater sense of ease is one of the benefits. You are no longer as easily disturbed nor are you as caught up in the noise of life in the same way. That doesn’t mean that you’re a nonfunctional blob sitting on a meditation cushion. Resting in silence does not prohibit action. However, life doesn’t require as much action as we think. Much of the time, we are agitating ourselves to take action through fear and other issues rather than flowing to action through clarity. There is a big difference in how that feels, and though many of you may feel both as you transition from unconscious action to a more conscious way of living, the more you dedicate yourself to silence, the more easily you can identify the flow of silence and stay with that.
In general, silence is peaceful. Nothing is needed here. No energy is need to maintain it. It’s like all the spiritual truths; silence exists whether you believe in it or not.
In many instances, beliefs are just marbles stacked in a corner ready to roll everywhere the minute you let go of them. They require tons of energy to remember and maintain them. It’s exhausting to try and believe and protect a lot of beliefs. Silence, love, and truth do not need your attention for them to exist. They are there waiting for you to notice them when you are ready. The more you bring your attention to them, the less you want to create or energize anything that is illusory. It’s too much wasted effort that brings only grief and suffering.
The Body, Heart, and Mind Relax More in Silence
As I said, early on the spiritual path, we are confronted with a lot of undealt with issues when we turn towards this inner silence. After addressing those issues, silence becomes more and more relaxing. It’s natural to not want to do a lot or say a lot. It’s not needed. You certainly have the choice to speak or act. Always remember that the spiritual path grants you freedom. It does not take it from you or force you to behave a certain way. Rather, it shows you the consequence of your actions. You can still eat the way you used to, but if that wasn’t healthy for you, you will be more aware of the costs of eating poorly. It only becomes natural to eat healthy. That’s not the Divine forcing you to change; that’s simply having an awareness of the true costs of your actions. That’s all.
In silence, you see a lot more consequences of your own action and others. This may even encourage you to go through another time of repentance of things you did and asking for forgiveness–often this is asking forgiveness from yourself for doing things to yourself that harmed you. It’s not hard to do so at a mature place in your spiritual path. It simply becomes clear that it is something to be done, and you do it. That’s it. Other attachments may also be seen, and the clarity of silence leads you onward towards greater healing and spiritual growth.
The upshot from a lot of this is continued simplification of your life internally and externally. The inner arguments the ego might once have had as to whether to do something or not continue to disappear. Many have already vanished into the silence. Without these ongoing debates driven by fears and social beliefs that may have nothing to do with reality, there’s just not as much to think about. As such, the way your mind works becomes clearer and smarter via this simplicity.
Reborn Each Moment from Silence
Each moment, we can arise a new person. Each moment we do arise a new person. The unconscious ego is all about constructing stories that created a continuity of identity that doesn’t actually exist. So much energy used to go to defending that construct. Now it is gone because in a mature conscious place, we know those stories aren’t true. Most of those stories are painful ones anyway, so why continue them? It really is that logical. This gives us the opportunity to be renewed each and every moment.
Silence really isn’t mystical, but when so many people are lost in noise, there may be a social perception that embracing silence is somehow a problem or not preferential. Such is the disease of the unconscious ego that drives a lot of social ideas. After all, society is simply a collective ego, and most of Western Society’s collective ego is deeply unconscious.
But that doesn’t mean you have to be.
As you mature, you find that silence is the greatest friend and ally there is. Go to it when you are sick. Go to it when you are happy. Feel how your senses open up and become more alive when the mind, heart, and body are dropping into this silence. Notice how silence embraces the noise as you witness difficult or stimulating things. Keep returning to the silence any time noise draws you away, and melt back into it when the time for action or speaking is done. After awhile, you will feel how this is your true home, and there truly is no place like a silent home.