Silence and the New
Without silence we will encounter very little that is new in life. Without silence, our alternatives in thought and action will remain relatively restricted. Growth, both personal and relational, will be difficult. We will easily find ourselves “stuck,” seemingly doomed to run the same old scripts and face the same old problems. Without silence, life is noise, and we resort to various ways of dealing only in the sounds we like. Are these words about you? They are most certainly about me.
On a daily basis, I spend an extended period of time practicing silence. As I sit and tune into the background noise of my mind, it is shocking to realize how much noise is constantly going on. In one way or another, this background noise (which is really only just the surface) tends to revolve around various forms of seeking security, esteem, control, and power. Typically, these thoughts have a “pull” to them. It’s easy to feel once you get used to it, and once you do, you can locate the impulses that are motivating your thought and actions. In realizing this, you are able to see the ways that your alternatives in thought and action have been limited to exclusively the options marked out by the background noise of your mind, to your own personal narcissistic operating system.
For most of us, most of the time, this all goes on “behind the scenes,” as it were. Not being aware of the dynamics leads us to think that our occurrent awareness and the alternatives it hands to us is “just the way things are.” Not only is this not the case, it is a capitulation that is tearing our world apart.
Tuning into the background noise is really only a preliminary step in my daily practice. The real “work” begins when, now aware of the noise, I practice a subtle act of inner release. There is no violence here; it is not suppression, it is mentally letting go. It is practice because the mind is never really silent, thus the motion is repeated, again and again. Attention is to nothing-in-particular (which is importantly different from “nothing”), and only by intention is one able to maintain the discipline.
With practice, this pattern has the potential to accompany one in daily life. More and more, habitual thoughts and actions become relativized to an attention that is not immediately run through the grid of our narcissistic operating system and the limited alternatives that go along with it.
With silence comes openness to the new, and life is in its manifestation.