Why is something so obvious almost beyond reach?
Like many others, I saw the first episode of the BBC2 television programme, The Big Silence. It clearly touched many people. (Useful links at the very end of this article.)
I wanted to throw a bit of light on this fascinating subject. As the five people in the TV programme all readily admit, real silence is rather scary to them.
Why would something so wished for by so many – an hour doing absolutely nothing – be sufficiently scary that, in reality, the majority will do everything in their power to avoid silence?
Let’s go to a video recorded by Abbot Christopher Jamison a couple of years ago in connection with the BBC Programme Finding Happiness. Here it is:
The points made by Abbot Jamison in that video apply just as much to the task finding peace through silence. Around the 3 minute mark, the Abbott says,
If we come to terms with our demons then we will find that we are not unhappy ….. face the unhappy demons.
We all have unhappy demons, OK some more than others. We start to hear them when we gift our bodies and minds the grace of real silence. I deliberately included the word ‘bodies’ even though silence is a ‘mind’ thing because resting our bodies with regular silence will also be very therapeutic for us.
What does coming to terms mean? It means giving space to those inner thoughts so that one can clearly hear them. You probably won’t make sense of them, indeed they may have a great unsettling effect, but they won’t hurt you.
Indeed, it’s when we try and stop those inner demons that they manifest themselves in many other ways: fidgeting, funny little unexplained aches, itchy skin, short-tempers, constant feeding of the ego, and on and on and on.
A good indication of what’s going on ‘under the bonnet’, so to speak, is to see if you can sit still in a relaxed manner for just 15 minutes.
Let’s go back to the website where you can buy the booklet on Growing into Silence. Here’s what is written there:
The Big Silence is a BBC TWO series about five men and women all of whom believed that they would benefit from finding more time for silence in their lives. They all felt that they needed to slow down and attend more to some of the deeper issues in life. They had little or no outward religious practice but all said that they were open to religious guidance. The result is a journey that took them into a deep silence and in that silence they discovered some powerful dynamics working in their own lives. – All of them were profoundly changed by the experience.
This 44-page booklet, Growing into Silence, offers you the chance to enter into that silence in your own life. You can undertake similar spiritual exercises to those which the volunteers undertook. To help you deepen some of the insights expressed in the series, there are also details of further resources, including a booklist and websites which you can explore.
Each of the exercises in this booklet is presented as a prayerful reflection. They assume that you are not alone as you reflect on your life. You carry out this process in the company of a loving God who looks over you, supports you, and who may well have something to add to your reflections. This is not a hidden way of persuading you to go to church, or sign up to any particular belief-system. Even if you have no idea about God, you can look at whatever most brings you to life or fills you with energy. That is always the most appropriate starting point.
Look at this sentence again, “The result is a journey that took them into a deep silence and in that silence they discovered some powerful dynamics working in their own lives.”
Self-awareness cannot come from outside, it has to come from inside, it has to come from what, in a spiritual sense, we call the soul. If you saw the BBC2 programme, you may recall the Abbot saying, “Silence is the route to the soul, the soul is the route to God.”
And now is not the time to have any form of reaction to the word, God. God, as it is said, works in mysterious ways and if those mysterious ways enable you to move towards your soul then don’t analyse it, just accept it as it is.
My co-author, Paul, wrote an article about Thinking about Truth on the 11th September. He wrote about Dr David Hawkins, another great-standing advocate of the importance of consciousness. Paul wrote in that article,
Think about what Hawkins is saying. He is saying that we intuitively know, without the need of intellectual argument or ‘proof’, the rightness, the beauty, the perfection of some deeply fundamental concepts.
It’s as if from the earliest moments of human awareness, gravity, sunlight, night and day, for example, were obvious despite eons of time needing to pass before science could ’explain’ these aspects of life.
In that blog article, Paul quotes Hawkins, “True power, then, emanates from consciousness itself; what we see is a visible manifestation of the invisible.”
It’s a simple step to connect what the Abbot is saying with that sentence from Hawkins. Silence is the way to hear our consciousness, and those sounds, those inner voices, are the manifestation of what, otherwise, we don’t ‘see’.
Here are the last three paragraphs from the article on truth:
A very well-known magical attribute of the human brain is what goes on in the sub-conscious, our ‘back-office’. Give the brain some space to process a dilemma such as deciding what to do for the best and it does come up with what is best for us. Often the best space we can provide for our brain is a good night’s sleep. It’s common folklore to ‘sleep’ on a problem.
My co-founder of Learning from Dogs, Paul, says that often in sleep we find the truth. I think the same could be said for meditation and prayer, as in a spiritual sense more than in a religious sense.
Just reflect again on the power of what comes out from those two paragraphs. Truth is not something external to us; it is within us, all the time. Our level of consciousness is the key to this truth. Our self-awareness is the tool by which we understand our level of consciousness – our mirror to our soul.
I completely agree.
By Jon Lavin
Want more information?
The earlier article from Learning about Dogs, Thinking about Truth