Friday, 2 September 2016

The First Silence: Listening to Listening

by umair haque, coach, lover, vampire:

There is silence, and there is silence. When we are looking for silence, when there is a need to really stop and be led by something, there is no need to look.

We are not talking about some kind of absence of sound when we are seeking silence. Silence doesn’t really mean: go somewhere where there is no noise, a park, a library, a temple, so you can “hear yourself think”. What silence means is: there is noise within you, and always hearing yourself think is the problem, not the solution. Then you are overthinking, and overthinking is underfeeling, underliving.

So when something in us cries out for silence, we are just seeking inner silence. But inner silence is a subtle thing. It is listening to listening. That subtlety is what makes it profound.

Listening to listening begins with a quiet mind. Not a blank mind. If I tell you: make your mind blank, then you will think of something like a great white sheet of paper. In the same way, if I tell you: silence your mind, you will try to suppress your inner voices. That is not inner silence. That’s just repression, self-rejection, if you want to use psychological terms. In the end, the inner voices just emerge noisier, angrier, shriller.

A quiet mind. The mind will go and on talking. Let it. What a quiet mind means is that the inner voice of the mind is not all that you hear. You just let mind recede, shrink, fall away. It is not that the voice is being silenced. It is just that you are expanding.

Now you are listening to yourself listening. What does that mean?

You are letting go of this way of listening to thoughts, only listening for words, that contain ideas, that come from your mind, which you react to. You are surrendering this way of listening. You hear the silence in between inner words first, the the silence in between the sentences, and then, slowly, you hear the silence surrounding, permeating, suffusing the words. Now you understand that there is more beneath, above, around, the words than there is in the words. So what can those words really say?

All that is the beginning of inner silence. The more that you expand, the less noise there is from mind. If you are not really listening, why should it keep talking? Now there is less going to waste. You are paying to attention to what is truer. Your intuition, feeling, senses. All the beauty and grace in the world. You are cultivating a truer way of hearing.

Inner silence, real silence. I’ll just call this the first silence. Because it is primal, fundamental, original. What do we hear in the first silence? You hear all that you really need to listen to. You hear your true self speaking for the first time. It doesn’t use words, like your mind. It breathes, whispers, falls, surges. It doesn’t separate and divide, like mind. It is just radiant, luminous, endless, true.

What does the ocean say to the rain? In the same way, your true self, which is the eternal in you, is not really there to talk at you, order you, command you. It is there to beckon you, guide you, nurture you, protect you, free you. To lead you back home. 

That is why without this kind of profound silence, there is always a sense of being alone, adrift, incomplete. And with it, there is the sense that you are arriving, in every moment, in the place where you have always been meant to be.

Umair, Philadelphia, August 2016.

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