Edition Eighteen

The Healing Power of Silence

Underneath and beyond the surface noise in your mind, lies the silence that is your true nature.

All true communication, remember, comes out of silence, and leads back to silence.

When the mind finally understands, it falls silent.

It is in silence that you feel the vibration of creation itself, that you hear the sound of the source, the whisper of eternity.It is in silence that you discover your true universal nature—that you are, indeed, an expression of the one divine power behind the universe, manifesting in this individual body, mind, and heart. It is in silence that you discover the truth of interconnectedness, and the priceless jewel of love. It is in silence that you tap into your deepest creative power, to the source of all creation, to consciousness itself. Silence is healing, nourishing. It is who and what you fundamentally are.

If there is one quality, or characteristic, that all awakened individuals share, it is this deep inner silence. As the great texts say, the sage dwells in inner silence. The awakened ones, especially if they are marketplace teachers, are indeed active in the world. They may talk quite a bit, laugh, play, engage in lots of creative activities, but inside, in the depths of their being, in the place where all thoughts originate, is that silence.

It is not a forced silence, either. It is the silence that unfolds naturally when you see that all the noise in your mind—the mental chatter—is entirely self-generated. When you see that it is your own story, your own incessant thinking that is getting in the way of your deeper peace and well-being, that seeing brings everything to a stop. Then the exquisite fragrance of stillness, of silence, reveals itself.

Yet silence, at first, can be scary for people, especially those who are constantly filling their environment with noise, whether it's music, television, endless telephone conversations, or the company of other people.

Spending time in meditation and contemplation helps you overcome any residual fear of silence. Learning to not run from your fear, but to breathe into it, face it, welcoming it as your teacher, as a friend. The emptiness out of which all sounds come, and back into which they disappear, is in fact not empty at all. It only appears that way. I remember it was David Bohm, a theoretical physicist who was a protégé of Einstein's, and a friend of J. Krishnamurti, who said that in one cubic centimeter of empty space, there is the energy equivalent of twenty kilotons of TNT.

So, the silence we start to notice when we get quiet and still is not empty, is not a lonely and barren place after all. In true silence you discover the energy, the core vibration of creation itself—the hum, the pulse of the Universe. The yogis call it the Nada, the breath of God. The quieter you get, the louder It gets. The Buddhists refer to the emptiness of mind, of true nature, as the plenum-void, or the full-nothingness. The silence behind creation has a density to it, a physicalness to it. It is teeming with possibility and potential.

To come upon the gift that is enlightenment, it is vital to take frequent time for inner silence, and the best place to find that silence—until you have awakened to it within you—is to go out into nature. Being in nature connects you, literally, with your own inner, essential nature. The experience of being in nature is invariably transforming, healing, renewing.

Go up into the hills, or to the mountains, or the forest, or out in a field, a public park, or down to the seashore. The seashore, of course, is not always so silent, with the waves crashing on the beach, but it is very cleansing. I have always described the experience of going to the wild northern California coast, near where I live, as "getting the cobwebs blown out of my system." It is just very cleansing to feel the wind blow through you, to smell the salt air.

Nature, as the Zen master Shunryu Suzuki said, is the true teacher of Zen. In nature, your consciousness expands beyond the borders of "me, myself, and my story," and you begin to merge with the universal consciousness, the larger sense of beingness, that is who and what you really are. You get a larger, truer perspective on reality. I call it the mountaintop perspective, because it brings you to some detachment, so that you can see more clearly, more widely.

This is essential for making the shift in perception you are seeking. Instead of being mired in your own story, your own drama, you want to be able to step outside it so that you can see that it is not who you really are. Your true nature is consciousness, pure, timeless awareness. Nature helps you discover that. It connects you with your true nature.

Even if you can't go out into nature, you can pause frequently throughout the day—before you open your car door, or get up from a chair, or make the next phone call, or go into a meeting—to stop, be very present, very still, and remember. You can remember to breathe, to feel yourself in your body, to be aware of your immediate environment, and to open yourself to the stillness, the silence, that is behind all the noises you hear. You can take the time to remember that you are not your ego, your story, or your circumstances, but that you are the consciousness, the awareness, that is aware of all these phenomena.

Many years ago I was inspired to write down a short mantra. It was to be my guide in meditation for quite some time. Listen to the spirit behind it, make it your own, and the secret of all those who have found inner freedom will, one day, be yours:

The fewer words the better. Let silence be your teacher. It is the true power.

©Jim Dreaver, 2004

By Jim Dreaver