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You Cannot Capture Silence, It Captures You

--by Richard Rohr (Mar 30, 2015)


For me, the two correctives of all spirituality are silence and service. If either of those is missing, it is not true, healthy spirituality. Without silence, we do not really experience our experiences. We may serve others and have many experiences, but without silence, nothing has the power to change us, to awaken us, to give us that joy that the world cannot give, as Jesus says. And without clear acts of free service (needing no payback of any sort, even “heaven”), a person’s spiritual authenticity can and should be called into question. Divine Love always needs to and must overflow!

To live in this primordial, foundational being itself, which I am calling silence, creates a kind of sympathetic resonance with what is right in front of us. Without it, we just react instead of respond. Without some degree of silence, we are never living, never tasting, as there is not much capacity to enjoy, appreciate, or taste the moment as it purely is. The opposite of contemplation is not action, it is reaction. We must wait for pure action, which always proceeds from a contemplative silence in which we are able to listen anew to truth and to what is really happening. Such spiritual silence demands a deep presence to oneself in the moment, which will probably have the same practical effect as presence to God.

You do not hear silence (precisely!), but it is that by which you do hear. You cannot capture silence. It captures you. Silence is a kind of thinking that is not thinking. It’s a kind of thinking which mostly sees(contemplata). Silence, then, is an alternative consciousness. It is a form of intelligence, a form of knowing beyond bodily reacting or emotion. It is a form of knowing beyond mental analysis, which is what we usually call thinking. All of the great world religions at the higher levels(mystical) discovered that our tyrannical mode of everyday thinking (which is largely compulsive, brain-driven, and based on early patterning and conditioning) has to be relativized and limited, or it takes over, to the loss of our primal being and identity in ourselves. I used to think that mysticism was the eventual fruit of years of contemplation; now I think it all begins with one clear moment of mystic consciousness, which then becomes the constant “spring inside us, welling up unto eternal life”.

Richard Rohr is a Franciscan friar, an internationally known speaker and author, and ​founding director of the Center for Action and Contemplation. The above passage is from his book, "Silent Compassion: Finding God in Contemplation."

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14 Previous Reflections:

 
On Oct 24, 2017 Raleigh Duncan wrote:

 when I read the title of your writing this appeared:

You came upon me subtle and silent
And over time crept into my being – no seeped into my being like a
Slow
Viscous
Magnetic
Syrup
That eventually penetrated all of me
Silence from within
Silence from without
Until the two cannot be separated sometimes
Now my heart soars, but much more quietly



On Apr 10, 2015 jerome mcnicholl wrote:

Interesting how nature demands that our bodies sleep- a kind of silence imposed but I love the vast undefinded territory of sleep when I work as an artist I empty my mind of expectations and a kind of almost physical silence takes over...it is inviting,challenging, engaging,generous and at once 'silence'.



On Apr 9, 2015 Sunil Kumar, Bangalore wrote:

Silence to me is complete soul consciousness.The physical body is all noise & perishable.But must maintain it for  the silence to capture us between the gap of life & death. The soul is the almighty authority, pure peace & power full of love,compassion,friendship, forgiveness and sublime joy............. I was captured by Kabir- the mystic poet when he said "Without churning milk there is no butter and no wood fire without ignition. Why wander? HE is inside constant, calm & quiet.Practice & Discover". This is meditation & spirituality. Making heartfelt efforts to manifest this silence of the soul by hugging & facilitating education of every child without any social divide. An unique digital platform based on OPEN DATA of everything & everybody concerning holistic child welfare is under development to connect all the problems with solutions collaboratively.   &  See full.

Silence to me is complete soul consciousness.The physical body is all noise & perishable.But must maintain it for  the silence to capture us between the gap of life & death. The soul is the almighty authority, pure peace & power full of love,compassion,friendship, forgiveness and sublime joy............. I was captured by Kabir- the mystic poet when he said "Without churning milk there is no butter and no wood fire without ignition. Why wander? HE is inside constant, calm & quiet.Practice & Discover". This is meditation & spirituality. Making heartfelt efforts to manifest this silence of the soul by hugging & facilitating education of every child without any social divide. An unique digital platform based on OPEN DATA of everything & everybody concerning holistic child welfare is under development to connect all the problems with solutions collaboratively. 
     

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On Apr 3, 2015 Mary wrote:

 I take 60 seconds, several times a day and just stop whatever I am doing and I pay attention to my breathing. I breathe slowly and deeply from my belly and hold. I meet my true self in the gaps between breaths. This practice helps me stay present especially in moments when I cannot take 15 or more minutes to meditate. This short practice helps shift my mood when the stresses of daily life start overwhelming me. When I need to connect with my higher self. I awaken in this gap of silence. 



On Apr 1, 2015 Padma Murtinty wrote:

 Silence for me means to shut off the voices in the mind in the form of opinions, thoughts or judgments. It means to completely stay in the "Now". Of course when ever we try to shut / resist something it only becomes louder as  what ever you resist will persist. So the true meaning of silence for me is to be a witness for those thoughts , opinions and judgments and have a background of awareness behind. Silence means just being with what ever it is in the "now" with out getting caught up and sucked up and getting an identity out of it. When I started my spiritual journey I used to so for 2- 3 days silence courses where all you have to do is sit and meditate and be with yourselves. Initially it was scary not to talk to any one for 2 or 3 days but as I continued mind became stiller and calmer. Now my life circumstances have changed and I hardly go to any silence retreats but have realized that as long as you are present and rooted in the now with out getting caught up in  See full.

 Silence for me means to shut off the voices in the mind in the form of opinions, thoughts or judgments. It means to completely stay in the "Now". Of course when ever we try to shut / resist something it only becomes louder as  what ever you resist will persist. So the true meaning of silence for me is to be a witness for those thoughts , opinions and judgments and have a background of awareness behind. Silence means just being with what ever it is in the "now" with out getting caught up and sucked up and getting an identity out of it. When I started my spiritual journey I used to so for 2- 3 days silence courses where all you have to do is sit and meditate and be with yourselves. Initially it was scary not to talk to any one for 2 or 3 days but as I continued mind became stiller and calmer. Now my life circumstances have changed and I hardly go to any silence retreats but have realized that as long as you are present and rooted in the now with out getting caught up in the mind, you can feel silence even in the midst of noise. Meditation definitely helps calm the mind and be present ,but true silence can be achieved even while performing daily routine work by bringing the mind to the "now'.

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On Apr 1, 2015 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 Silence  is my way of being connected with myself, with others in my life and with nature. Silence helps me to mindfully process my inner world of thoughts, feelings and emotions. It helps me to get out  of my autopilot mode of doing to the mindfulness mode of being. I practice mindfulness meditation everyday regularly for twenty minutes It helps me to clear up the clouds I create in my consciousness.I also do mini  mindfulness practice when I go through stressful experiences in my daily life. I start my classes and therapy sessions with  15 minutes of Mindfulness Meditation. That helps me, my students and my clients to get centered to learn how to focus our energy for learning and working on oneself and others connected with us.Evryday offers me this opportunity to save and invest my energy for creating, nurturing and sustaining wellness in me and people connected with me.

Namaste.

Jagdish P Dave



On Mar 31, 2015 Thomas wrote:

 I first what to thank you for sharing these wise and settled words.
I find it difficult to organize silent moments in my daily routine, but it sure is of great value. In my experience, shared silence during a conversation or afterwards, creates bonds between people which couldn't exist otherwise.



On Mar 31, 2015 Carol Stewart wrote:

 For nearly 40 years I have been exploring the wisdom of The Tree of Life. Each of the Spheres on The Tree have a spiritual quality. The quality of Silence is the Spiritual Virtue of the 3rd Sphere. This sphere is also entitled "Understanding." I have come to call it "the deepest darkest place of the greatest light" - I think this is where St John of the Cross  was when he wrote "I was stunned and stammering...rising beyond all science."  The little piece of God each of us carries is held in that place - a memory of what one came here to do, one's response to human suffering, a discovery of the inevitability of one's own beauty - all that in an instant of eternity. I can see why Silence is a Spiritual Virtue, an appropriate response...as Silence is respect and honor to even a glimmer of that truth within. 



On Mar 31, 2015 Syd wrote:

Silence use to be a raw experience for me and it communicated clearly that my thought process was complex and convoluted. I would become high-strung and my nervous system would tune to a high pitch. I hated silence because I could not repress my unconsciousness impulses. As a child I considered silence dangerous, which made my thoughts good and safe. Because the world was threatening and unpredictable it ultimately became meaningless. It was meaningless because I thought I had to reject attachment to everything. Then when my mental connections started going haywire because of my cell disease, it felt like I had to move into silence as a way of stopping my rejection of everything. For five years I have done my daily quiet meditation, feeling at times this glowing hateful silence and other times I could allow my thoughts to arise and disappear into stillness and peacefulness. Silence has awaken me to a deeper self beyond my thoughts, my feelings, my perceptions and even my own body. Thi  See full.

Silence use to be a raw experience for me and it communicated clearly that my thought process was complex and convoluted. I would become high-strung and my nervous system would tune to a high pitch. I hated silence because I could not repress my unconsciousness impulses. As a child I considered silence dangerous, which made my
thoughts good and safe. Because the world was threatening and unpredictable it ultimately became meaningless. It was meaningless because I thought I had to reject attachment to everything. Then when my mental connections started going haywire because of my cell disease, it felt like I had to move into silence as a way of stopping my rejection of everything.

For five years I have done my daily quiet meditation, feeling at times this glowing hateful silence and other times I could allow my thoughts to arise and disappear into stillness and peacefulness. Silence has awaken me to a deeper self beyond my thoughts, my feelings, my perceptions and even my own body. This silence is this constant clarification I have had too much attachment to my thoughts. This silence is penetrating and offers this brilliant clarity, yet I also have felt stripped into nothingness. The nothingness communicated what my parents felt about me, nothing of value. So at times my silence has been perverse and dark, empty and intense, yet for some unknown reason I have found faith in this silence.

This faith tells me I no longer need to convince myself certain things are true. It is like silence can hold life and death, good and evil, love and indifference together as a verifying gift from silence. I enjoy the stillness and peace. There are also those times when I feel to overly empty and without nourishing sustenance my whole body becomes filled with horror and uncertainty. Silence to me, therefore, is like walking off the edge of the world and it takes more faith than I can produce at times. Silence is Divine awareness and sometimes can be true craziness for me, and other times my faith emerges with this unshakable confidence with this deep awareness of Presence.

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On Mar 31, 2015 Asha wrote:

 Yes, SPirituality without Silence and Purity is not Spirituality. Very nice article..... Thank You for sharing. It ha sbeen my resolution to work from within, from a space of Silence this year. We need more Silence retreats not only in our homes but also collectively as a group. 



On Mar 29, 2015 Thankful wrote:

 Just two years ago, I would listen to music or radio talk during my daily walk.  The music I listened to would inspire/motivate me to "press on"!  Today, I walk to silence.  I crave it now as I never had before!  In my "silence" of today's walk outdoors, the wind, birds, movement of the trees, cars passing were "my song"!
In "silence", everything is magnified. . . awareness is heightened . . . I can be . . . and be with whomever I wish to be.    Too, in it (silence) I can best hear God.



On Mar 29, 2015 david doane wrote:

 This foundational silence means turning inward and listening to what I am experiencing, including my feelings, thoughts, fantasies, without judgment, without pushing or trying, and simply being open, purposeless, and paying attention.  In my meditation this morning, I had a few moments, and I mean only a few moments, of being willingly "captured" in this silence.  Such moments don't last long for me as I become distracted by thinking or planning that intrudes, which I then become aware of and let go of and make an effort to get back to simply listening.  I practice silence by taking a few minutes to get away from outside noise, close my eyes, and put myself in a quiet space to listen to my inner self.  This practice is partly based on my having learned that my inner world/experience/truth is valuable, is my foundation, is me, and without it and listening to it I am lost.



On Mar 29, 2015 Abhishek wrote:

Pure silence is without any trace - without any expectation or agenda, without any deliberate doing. It is just deep rest, the dropping away of all effort, of all 'listening for something', of waiting for the alarm to go off (at the end of the sit)

I find that really challenging - silence throws up a lot of chatter....and suddenly there is no silence.....pure silence is the open-ness to what emerges, and the freedom to see it without a filter.....then we are really 'listening to the silence', in deep communion with it.....

Dropping into this silence regularly is like bathing for me....if not done, the clutter accumulates, and very soon the restless occupied chatter enacts itself in my actions and life, causing more and more mischief.....

Only in deep silence can we truly create from the space beyond us.....I have had to cultivate this silence and is still work in progress.....for those planning to engage with silence, Awakin is a good start ;)



On Mar 27, 2015 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

 Silence means to me allowing ourselves to simply be; be present fully, be mindful and in heart. It means to breathe, settle in, and allow a knowing to enter us. I've been captured by silence most often in nature, though at times in my own room or even in my car. There is a peace I feel, a love that washes over. I believe we practice this silence by creating space for it to enter; allowing ourselves to in some way disconnect so that we may connect more deeply. <3