Someone once took a Zen Buddhist monk to hear the Boston Symphony perform BeethovenÕs Fifth Symphony. The monkÕs comment was, ÒNot enough silence!Ó We should become friends with silence.
Silence helps us to see the seductive power of our own justifications Ñ the way we become sure and proud of our ideas and positions, our views and our solutions. Silence is the communion we call love.
Silence is in the heart of all things. We cannot hear silence, we become silence. To become silence, we have to find our way through the narrow gap between two thoughts. Silence also begins in that place where the breath, as it enters us, comes to rest, and from where the breath, as it leaves us, comes from.
In this silence, our ears begin to hear some sounds that are so gossamer, we only intuit their music. Our eyes are startled by each thing as it lives in its own silence. Silence is so fine that even the dance of miniscule insects would seem like the violent roar of a thousand fighter-bombers.
We are embraced by silence,and silence cares for us deeply. In the embrace of silence we sense the essence of living things radiating loudly. We fall into this subtle awareness and are cleansed of bitterness and fear.
In silence, we alternate like a well-timed current between being and non-being, between fullness and emptiness.
In silence, everything just happens, without manipulation, without fear and grasping. But this happening occurs only in silence.
About twenty years ago, I took up the practice of not speaking as a way to encourage inner silence. At first it was very hard, because the talking continued automatically in my head. The words crowded into my mouth; I just wouldnÕt let them out. After a week or so, I began to notice the thinking and talking. It was as if another person was inside of me. That person just noticed. In this noticing, I became aware of what was otherwise an automatic process of thinking and talking. After another week, that person grew large and encompassing. He was just there, watching and noticing silently. That person was a separate consciousness from mine, noticing, witnessing, silently without judgement or criticism. It was an awareness that was not me, but included me.
In that silence, I could hear that awareness breathing, purring like a cat. My thinking slowed down, and the crowd of words in my mouth thinned out. I began to feel extremely relaxed, still, and quietÑjust like a cat sleeping in the sun. My senses became very acute. I could hear a leaf as it fell in the air. I could feel people approaching before I could see them. I could sense what was about to happen. I could notice the thoughts and impulses arise within me while considering their qualities. This awareness seemed to hold everything within itself, as an ocean holds an infinite variety creatures.
Soon, I couldnÕt find ÒmeÓ anywhere. I just disappeared. I had crept into everything, and so ÒIÓ became Òall.Ó I began to see a soft light surrounding whatever I looked at. Everything seemed linked by this etheric light. The purring breath that I had noticed before was now everywhere. I was mostly aware of the soft light, the purring breath, and an unbreakable stillness.
My teacher, Muktananda, had told me to meditate on the mantra hamsa. He said that hamsa is the vibration of that consciousness which pulsates in every atom of this universe. He said that, by paying attention to the point between the incoming and outgoing breath, or to the space between two thoughts, one could experience the truth of hamsa. He taught that hamsa was the pure vibration of life itself, unconditioned by form or thought, and that it pervaded everything. In my experiment with silence, I must have stumbled into hamsa.
Silence orchestrates life. That music cannot be heard with the ears; it is too subtle, too beautiful. It is experienced in the heart and expressed through being.