Seeking Silence

Silence is golden. peaceful. powerful. sacred. intimate.

Silence can also be awkward, dreaded, dramatic, even disturbing. Sometimes it is used to communicate anger. disbelief. disappointment. disapproval. Or to avoid saying all that needs to be said. Other times, it is issued as a punishment, a timeout.

In the classroom, it might indicate learning is – or isn’t – taking place. At home, it may evoke suspicion. Outdoors, it could feel eery, depending on the location and time of day – or night, especially in contrast with unnamed noises.

On occasion, moments of silence are mandated to show respect for those in the dead past – in the living present. Other times, silence does mean just that – death. Or the death of spirit from a lack of freedom of expression; silence is oppression.

Silence has as many different meanings as waves can carry sounds.

Silence is… (What else can silence mean?)  

As I sat down to brainstorm about silence, about how rare, and therefore, valuable it is, I began to question if silence is even possible – and if so, where and when? I was fairly calm, other than a word or two that came to mind, and I was in a quiet room but still, so far from silence…

So I imagined myself in a more remote environment. Yet there would be a breeze carrying the sound of leaves or a chirp or a buzz. Here or there, there would be – there is – breath and the beating of my heart. The more I listened, the more sensitive I became to the sounds around and within me. Subtler and subtler sounds became less subtle, more distinct.

Will there ever be silence? Not as long as there is movement. Not as long as there is life.

And though not always ideal, silence is often idealized.

Initially, I was seeking peace, an escape from “noise.” I had thought of silence as the opposite of sound, but sound is so much more than on and silence is so much more than off. 

In seeking silence, we are more likely to notice everything else. In seeking anything, we are more likely to evade it and discover what we’ve labeled as its opposite.

Seeking silence is like seeking solitude – in being “alone,” we remember we are not alone, not separate; suddenly, we feel connected to everything.

Silence is not the absence of sound. Silence is the absence of seeking.

What are you seeking that is preventing you from discovering what already is? 

If you don’t know what to do, you do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Then inwardly you are completely silent. Do you understand what that means? It means that you are not seeking, not wanting, not pursuing; there is no center at all. Then there is love. – J. Krishnamurti

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