Silence

by Dennis Bradford

in spiritual well-being

Silence is the language of Being.

You are infinitely important because Being is of infinite importance and each of us is Being.

Since you are Being, it is impossible for you to be genuinely fulfilled (happy, satisfied) until you realize identification with Being. All other fulfillments are transitory.

Sadly, most people do not identify with Being. This explains why most people fail to be genuinely fulfilled. Life beats them down to the point where they become preoccupied with avoiding living poorly rather than focusing on living well.

The best way to foster identification with Being is to listen to silence. There are a number of different practices or techniques available that will help you listen to silence, to hear the language of Being, to realize your true nature.

How, you may wonder, is it possible to listen to silence? After all, isn’t it only sounds that we are able to hear?

Good question!

Normally, we are preoccupied with whatever is in the foreground while ignoring its background. Daoists encourage us to reverse this procedure.

Sounds are in the foreground. Without their background, it would be impossible to notice them. What is always behind or beneath sound? Practice paying attention to it.

Doing so is apprehending Being; it is learning the language of Being.

This will seem unintelligible until you realize one critical truth: thoughts are sounds. Whenever you are thinking, your attention is directed away from Being towards noise.

What-is is divisible into Being and Becoming.

Paying attention to Being is not paying attention to Becoming; paying attention to Becoming is not paying attention to Being.

All thoughts are forms. All forms are Becoming.

Therefore, whenever you are thinking, whenever you are paying attention to forms by perceiving or remembering or imagining or conceiving them, your attention is not on Being.

Being is the other side of thought. Being cannot be thought; it cannot be perceived, remembered, imagined, or conceived. To apprehend Being directly, simply stop paying attention to all forms. That’s easy to say but difficult to do.

Unfortunately, most people seem to spend their whole lives focused on forms. They never find genuine fulfillment. They never realize themselves.

Silence is formless.  It is formlessness. Of course! How else could it be the language of Being?

You may wonder, “Am I really Being?”

Ask yourself, “What is the field or wellspring of all experience?”

Think of it this way to answer: What do all your experiences have in common? Isn’t that where you will find yourself?

Remember an experience that happened when you were 4 years old. Imagine one that may happen to you when you are 94 years old. What do those two experiences have in common? What will all the experiences in between them have in common?

Notice that they all unfold in the present moment. Each experience you have ever had, are having, or will ever have occurs now. Experiences neither occur in the past nor in the future. All experiences have in common the present moment.

To encounter the present moment, subtract all forms from an experience by isolating or abstracting it from what makes it unique. What’s left?

You are not able to think of anything remaining, right?

That’s because you are trying to think of Being, which is formless. Remember: only forms can be thought of (singled out, picked out as objects of attention).

Assuming that you aren’t deaf, it’s easy to hear or single out a sound or string of sounds.

Try to “hear” the silence beneath or behind them, the root and ground of their actuality. You won’t be able to hear it as you hear a sound or string of sounds, but it’s there. No silence, no sound.

The only way to hear it is to stop thinking about it. Drop it. Let it go. Then listen again.

It is impossible for anyone to teach you how to apprehend Being. It can neither be taught by pointing nor by words, because all gestures and words are Becoming.

Suppose someone were to ask you, “Who are you?” Undoubtedly you could reply by telling your story, the sequence of experiences that you identify with, that have made you who you are. Are you, though, really just your story?

Like your body, your autobiography is a radically incomplete accounting of who you are. You are infinitely more than your body or your autobiography!

If you disagree, that’s only because you have not yet learned how to listen to silence. To know yourself as you really are it is necessary to learn the language of Being.

Fortunately, because it happens spontaneously, it’s not really necessary to be taught how to apprehend Being. It’s mostly a matter of noticing it and expanding those moments. I have no doubt that you have done it, but you may never have given them much attention. Attending to them is worth doing. (I discuss ways to do that in other posts in this spiritual well-being category.)

Let silence ring!

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