In the silence, things are revealed.
Things that cannot be heard in the noise of modern life.
For the most part, our culture fears silence because of its revelatory power, both good and bad. We do have so many secrets.
Usually, the first thing us humans encounter in the silence is our thoughts. So we fear the silence because, we fear our own thoughts. And wouldn’t you know it? The pesky ones we try so hard to push away are usually the first to surface.
That’s a drag, so instead we block out the silence. We come home, we go to the fridge and we turn on the tv. We push our consciousness through a kind of predictable tunnel. And the tunnel has a weight, a momentum that is hard to break.
It takes a big experience like falling in love or the loss of a loved one to crack open the tunnel. But the thing is, no matter how life altering the experience, we have an uncanny way of eventually finding our way back to the tunnel where things are safe, warm and pretty doggone mediocre. Well, lately, mediocrity is even giving the tunnel too much credit. We’ve sunk somewhere below mediocrity into absurdity.
The silence, however, is a challenge to the tunnel. Like love and loss, silence also opens us up. It allows us to become present with our boredom, our emptiness. Thoughts, as I’ve said, crowd in, deafening. But over time, one learns how to sift through those thoughts. You put the defeating ones on a shelf, or maybe you surrender to them with tears, but not for too long. You put the habitual ones on another shelf, and just try to keep a friendly distance from those. You put the thoughts of others on yet another shelf for further inspection. (But be careful. The sifting of thoughts can become a tunnel of its own.)
Then every once-in-awhile, in the silence you recognize an exciting thought that leads you down the rabbit hole. It stirs something within you, like the memory of a distant voice. Maybe it is hardly a voice at all and more like a feeling. It stirs you to action. Maybe you write it down. Maybe you make a collage. Maybe you fix something. Maybe you share your idea with another. Maybe you make the bed.
Or maybe you just shut up and listen. And then respond. Listen. Respond. You begin to have a conversation with what is. In the silence, our senses unfurl, like tendrils. We hear the wind. Bird. We smell the air, and perhaps notice that when the sun comes out for a moment from behind the clouds on a grayish day, the grass responds to the sun by releasing a stronger scent. Smell the greeting of the grass and the sun.
It is all so alive.
In the silence, one can slip into the role of the third person who watches. From that perspective, when someone, let’s say, cuts you off in traffic, you become frustrated for a moment, sure. You are yanked back down to a lower consciousness. But if you’ve been practicing as the watcher, you are more easily able to slip back into higher consciousness.
I don’t mean to imply that the higher consciousness is a way to avoid emotion. You feel the anger but in the silence, you more easily and quickly move to another place, like finding shade on a hot day. Why stay hot when the shade is right next to you?
Maybe to be enlightened means that you live in that higher consciousness all the time, or, I don’t know, 90% of the time. Those people, from what I’ve heard, have had some kind of major divine intervention. For most of us poor schmucks it’s just something we have to practice. It’s hard for a beginner like me and very time consuming, but also cleansing, like a good poop.
“And one should never underestimate the satisfaction of a good poop, I always say,” says Mr. Octopus, who is, pretty much, enlightened.
It’s called higher consciousness because it lifts you higher. Duh! Sort of like being high, but with better side affects.
And I suspect there’s more to the silence than even all of that. It’s exciting. But for now, this is as far as I’ve gotten.
So, what the hell? Turn off that tv once-in-awhile. Turn off that radio. Let the emptiness emerge and let the quiet part begin! Whoop whoop! The secrets are not as bad as we think. The truth is always better, even though its emergence is sometimes painful.
“Like a poop,” says Mr. Octopus.
“Yes, just like a hard poop,” I agree.
In silence we can hear the truth of ourselves, and, well, it’s not all bad! Geesh!