Saturday, April 23, 2016

Listening To The Silence

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself in crystal clearness.  Our life is a long and arduous quest after truth.”
-Mahatma Gandhi
As I have written before, we live in a noisy world.  Most of you have heard the expression “I can’t hear myself think”.  I know that many people have requested to work at home because they find the office too noisy and distracting.  They want to work in a quieter place.  My home and my entire neighborhood are very quiet places during the work week.  On weekends, however, you are more likely to hear leaf blowers, lawn mowers, or even chainsaws.  Prolonged noise, in whatever form it takes, is not good for the human spirit.  When I lived in a monastery as a young man, we got out of bed at 3:00 AM and began the day with prayer and meditation at 3:15 AM.  At first it was a shock to my system, and it never got easy, but after I got used to it, it became my favorite part of my day.  I especially liked the time after group prayer when each monk could go off on his own to a solitary place and simply become one with the approaching dawn.  It was a wonderful thing to sit on the porch during a pre-dawn rainstorm or to watch the sun rise through the trees and across the fields.  The silence was soothing and healing.  Any time I have visited the monastery over the years I have always looked forward to re-experiencing these things.  The first thing I noticed after leaving the monastery was the noise and the speed of life in the city.  It was a shock to the system.  I am afraid that most of us have become de-sensitized to it.  Many people are equally shocked when they encounter silence.  You cannot hear well or listen deeply when you are immersed in noise.  You can’t hear physically and you can’t hear spiritually.  When I finally retire and I no longer have the pressure of my morning alarm clock and the need to come to work, I hope to spend more time listening to the silence in my early mornings or even in the middle of the night when I cannot sleep.  Sometimes tells me, however, that sleeping won’t be a problem in retirement.  Some of the best sleep I ever had was in the silence of the monastery.  My best thoughts also seem to come to me in silence as well.          

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