flight of a bird

About the emptiness that comes from silence

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Imagine a hot afternoon, a light breeze, a blue sky and these four enlightened ones gathered together under the shade of a tree, contemplating ‘The All’, and reflecting on the art of silence.

Jiddu Krishnamurti, his eyes following the flight of a bird, begins the conversation in a quiet voice:

What exactly is the emptiness that comes from silence?  Not the concept of emptiness, nor just the word, but what would that void be simply observed in the here and now?  Only the mind that understands space, that knows this emptiness and is perfectly aware of it, only such a mind is capable of complete stillness.[1].

Helena Petrovna Balavatsky turns her large eyes upon Jiddu and gently responds, as if she recites the words coming from her heart:

Before the Soul can understand and remember, it must first unite with the Silent Speaker, just as the form that is given to the clay first joins the mind of the potter.  Only then will the Soul hear and be able to remember.  Only then will the inner ear hear the Voice of the Silence.[2]

Jan van Rijckenborgh drinks in every word from his great friend, and gently stroking his dogs’ silky fur, he slowly reflects:

Indeed, this emptiness is only possible from true silence.  And you don’t have to isolate yourself to find it.  Amid powerful tensions and a raging ocean of passions, it is still possible to achieve immense inner tranquility; the peace of a new life, which is not of this world; a life reality full of grace and truth, which normally develops in the midst of enormous turmoil.[3]

What do you think, my dear Jiddu?

Krishnamurti, sitting with crossed legs, gives an enigmatic smile and teases his friends with a question: ‘In the middle of all this, how do we search for happiness?’

He answers his own rhetorical question  

Only when the mind is no longer interested in ‘becoming’, no longer interested in shaping itself in order to be something, only then is it able to receive what is the truth.  Only then can there be happiness, because happiness is not an end but a result of reality.[4]

Then Lao Tzu, who had kept a respectful silence as befits a sage amongst sages, closes his eyes as if looking for the golden thread that links all thoughts and feelings, and recites:

The wise rules so that hearts become empty of desire.  He practices wu wei and thus there will be nothing that he does not govern well.[5]

After savoring every word from this great master, Jan van Rijckenborgh responds:

Now, when what is holy enters our lives, it is gratifying to feel what the Bible calls ‘silent joy’, to have a perception of the teaching without words.  Not doing is not, as one might imagine, withdrawing from the dialectical world, withdrawing from earthly life, becoming anti-conformist, no longer accepting the monotony of everyday life.[6]

 

Silence

 

Each one breathes the valuable content of their hearts.  It is Krishnamurti who breaks this sacred pause that hangs in the autumn breeze, to warn:

Quietness, silence, is not a product of thought.  Silence exists outside the realms of consciousness.  You cannot say, ‘I experience a state of silence’.  If you experience it, it is not true silence.  It descends upon us, becomes present.  In the same way that you cannot experience space and emptiness, you cannot experience silence.  Only in silence can there be a completely free, uncontaminated energy, not directed by pleasure.[7]

We who are watching them, so radiant in the light of that imaginary afternoon, begin to understand that there lies a new way of acting, because:

Only the religious mind knows what the mental void is.  The ‘empty mind’ is not in a state of emptiness, of inanity, rather it is extraordinarily vigilant, attentive, sensitive; it has no centre and therefore, creates space.  Only the mind that has no centre, that has the space of immensity, only that is the true religious mind, and only the religious mind is creative.  Only then, in this extraordinary state, which is not mystical, which does not represent an escape from life, is the presence of the Eternal possible.[8]

Still wanting to hear them a little longer during this pleasant afternoon (which we hope will never end), we ask:

How do we know if we are already on this path, practicing this emptiness that comes through silence?  What sensations will we have if we really manage to understand, through a new awareness, this new silent action?

 

Silence

 

The warm breeze gently caresses the branches of the tree, bringing a calmness full of meaning.  Jan van Rijckenborgh, with a loving fatherly tone, brings the meeting to an end: 

According to the Ethics by Baruch Espinosa: ‘The man touched by reason will only have feelings of joy and an intense longing’.  Why joy?  Because the path of perfection is manifested for the first time in the fullness of its radiating beauty.[9]

 

Deep Silence

 

Reflections on the Conversation

We ask again in the words of Krishnamurti: what exactly is the emptiness that comes from silence?  Not the concept of emptiness, nor just the word, but what would that void be simply observed in the here and now? 

In the midst of the tribulations of our day, there will always be an opportunity to experience a moment of observation that is free from any theoretical basis, free of any preconceived ideas, of crystallized attitudes.  All we need to do is to do it.

Reflecting on the imaginary conversation between these four enlightened ones, we firstly realize that quietness is not just the opposite of restlessness.  Of course our natural first reaction will be to seek this stillness in order to escape our inner turmoil.

This stillness however, this profound joy, is something new, which is born in the here and now, free from any preconceptions or external laws.  This completely new state can only be experienced when we allow a new consciousness to direct our thinking, feeling, and actions.  Then we will begin to understand what Krishnamurti meant by the value of the truly religious, creative mind.

n such special moments, a great silence comes over our being, but does not invade us: it comes gently, softly, like the flow of a fountain.

These moments are like flashes of light that bring us quick insights we can barely capture.  Could this be the wisdom of non-action, wu-wei, as proposed by Lao Tze – that wisdom that brings us a silent joy, a joy that is not the product of thought, but flows from our hearts?  Through the process of learning and gaining knowledge of the self, humanity, and the world, we can experience this silence, we can come to the conviction that everything is as it should be.

But we cannot forge that state!  It is a split second, a spark, a bird in flight, which we cannot and should not try to capture.  All human beings seek harmony, tranquility; the state that many call happiness.

What about us; we who categorize ourselves as ‘spiritual seekers’?  Are we not looking for spiritual happiness as a goal, as an end?  But wouldn’t that happiness represent the satisfaction of a selfish desire?  We need to be very careful not to trivialize this sacred space.

We need to ask ourselves: what makes us stop fearing the emptiness that arises from silence, from stillness?  We already have this answer within us!  What makes us experience the tranquility of this emptiness is trust, certainty, the absolute conviction that spirituality is a state of being that develops through a daily process.

When we experience this ‘space’ that we feel but cannot express, even for a millisecond, then stillness has surrounded and entered us, and this emptiness we experience as our true state.  We have the absolute certainty that we have come home.  It is there, in that central point of stillness, that we find ourselves and each other.

When we are touched by the light of this new consciousness, we are immersed in an absolute silence and immense joy, and with this new strength of certainty, we move forward with a new impetus of will and action.  Then, as Madam Blavatsky says: nothing else matters, because we really hear the Voice of the Silence.


[1] Krishnamurti, Jiddu, The Voyage On An Uncharted Sea

[2] Blavatsky, H. P. The voice of silence, Fragment I

[3] Rijckenborgh, Jan, The Universal Way

[4] Krishnamurti, Jidu, Freedom is the first and last step

[5] Lao Tzu, Tao Te King

[6] Rijckenborgh, J. and Petri, C., The Chinese Gnosis

[7] Krishnamurti, Jidu, The Voyage On An Uncharted Sea

[8] Krishnamurti, Jidu Talks by Krishnamurti in Índia, 1964 (New Delhi and Varanasi)

[9] Rijckenborgh, J. and Petri, C. The Chinese Gnosis

 

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