The Place Before Words ~ Words & Silence & The Silence
Jan 12, 2020
LOTUS OF THE HEART
Living in LOVE beyond Beliefs
We Share One Life, We Are One Life
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A seeker of silences am I, and what treasure have I found in silences that I may dispense with confidence?
*Kahlil Gibran. The Prophet.
I have been in the work of words most of my life. I was public speaking at age 15. I was a Christian preacher, a college professor, a chaplain, and now have been a writer for almost 20 years. I realize more and more what all the words could not say, cannot say. In my relationships with others, I realize increasingly the value and importance of silence, that I can truly hear best from the Quiet, not only to what the other says with the mouth, but what the heart of the other is communicating through the words and through more, the soul the other is. One of the reasons I spend time daily in quietness is not to elevate myself to some higher spiritual state, but to become more human, more able truly to listen to the other deeply and do more, receive the presence of the other who is with me. I want to feel deeply the other, and I cannot do that with priority on words above silence, and the Silence. I must be-with and listen-from the Silence, then, I can respond from that same Silence with or without words. Through this silence, I can, then, invite the other there with me, to the place before words.
Toward the end of his life, the Buddha took his disciples to a quiet pond for teaching. As they had done many times before, the Buddha’s followers sat in a small circle around him and waited for the dharma, or teaching.
But this time the Buddha spoke no words. He reached into the muck and pulled up a lotus flower, and he held it silently before them, its roots dripping mud and water.
The disciples were confused. Buddha quietly displayed the flower to each of them. In turn, each disciple did his best to expound upon the meaning of the lotus flower. Such as... What did it symbolize? How did it fit into the Buddha teaching?
At last, the Buddha came to his follower Mahakasyapa, and the disciple suddenly understood. He smiled and began laughing. The Buddha handed the lotus to Mahakasyapa and began to speak.
“What can be said I have said to you,” the Buddha spoke and smiled, “and what cannot be said, I have given to Mahakashyapa.”
Mahakashyapa became Buddha’s successor from that day forward.
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what i most want to give you, give everyone, i cannot speak no one has no one can yet, Here so much can be heard
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Certainly, we need not diminish the importance or role of words. Words can give shape to our inner aspirations. What we deeply feel seeks the shape of words. Yet, with too much reliance on words, we lose touch with what the heart is saying, and the mind takes over the role of the heart. Communion heart-with-heart is an act of the Silence, arising from silence, before words. Words, then, at best, serve the Silence and those joined in the intimacy within the Quiet, before time, before space ~ the Eternal here, now, not somewhere else or some other time.
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One of my favorite pop songs was sung by the Bee Gees in the 1970s, "Words" ~ ...
Song can be accessed on original site via upper-left artist-title below...
While the song says something beautiful about words, it does not speak the whole truth. In the realm of the mind, words are almost always informational, providing mental content, telling someone about oneself or something. This is principally within the domain of ego, the person, the subject-object relationship, so the one speaking is subject, sending a message to the receiver, the object. So, here there is no I-I relating, such as in heart-sharing, or heart-with-heart, but I-It.
The lyrics fail to speak of silence, and the Silence, as most instrumental in communicating intimacy in a heart-with-heart way. So, no, words are not the only, or sole, or most powerful means to draw someone to oneself. This other drawing is I-with-I sharing in which both or all are approached as subject, and the sharing is a flow that cannot be orchestrated on a prior idea or plan. The Silence orchestrates spiritual intimacy. The Silence includes all involved in subtle communication, Spirit communicating Itself ~ of Peace, of Beauty, of Love.
Please clarify the role of words.
Much of our sharing is for information only. Words work best here in contexts where the giving of information is primary or the sole intent. For intimacy, which is more subtle, and here meaning spiritual connection, or what I often call heart-with-heart, words serve best arising out of silence, silence that arises from the Silence, or Source. So, silence is the ground of the sharing, not words.
Relating to this is looking not at someone, but with or into someone. When you look with someone, you both are seeing into each other. When in the Silence, the looking and speaking arise from silence. Alan Watts said, "We usually don't look. We overlook." I say it this way, that we can look at but not see. If I want to see you, this is a spiritual act. I am seeing you from and in the Silence, not as merely an object I think is in space and time. Likewise, I have said there is a difference between the biological process of listening to someone, that is to their words, and hearing them as more than the sound or the mental content.
Here, too, the difference between perception and conception may assist. Perception is a first seeing. Then, we conceive about, or think about, what was perceived in a direct communication of that we heard, saw, felt, ... In silence I am more postured to see you, not overlook you, to hear you, not just hear the words you say and what I assume you meant in saying the words. So, there is a step from being located in conception, to perception. Conception does not cease, but rarely, but takes a back seat to perception, or the immediate contact, before the overlay of thought. Perception is one with silence, for it arises in silence. And, with awareness, we can see when we have moved back into conception, relax, and welcome perception to become first again.
Then, why any words at all? Seems words would interrupt the flow, the intimacy, the I-I as you say.
When coming from silence, the words are imbued with the flavor of silence, which is the flavor, recall, of the Silence, or Source. The words, then, as shaped content, provide a form for the formless inspiration arising from within the heart of one and the sharing heart-with-heart. Here, words serve the silence, so serve the heart-with-heart. Here, they are empowered by the Silence and, so, are most transformative. Two or more are trans-formed through this process that happens from the silence and in which words aid the sharing. If, however, the words are purely mental, being informational, that easily blocks the communion-of-heart. Or if words are a defense mechanism to ward off intimacy, which is the fruition of the Silence, the words do not serve the work of the Silence. So, the principal matter is not how much you speak or what you speak, but... "From where am I speaking?" If you speak from silence, one word or a myriad words in union with the Silence, what you speak will be of the same Silence. Yet, in all this, what you most wish is the communication of Presence, or the Source, through your presence. So, giving yourself through what you speak is vital.
Does this apply to what you said recently, that spiritual beings tend to speak more slowly, with more breaks in their speaking, like pauses?
Yes, the brain has slowed down by being bathed in the Silence over a period of time. I have said spiritual contemplatives, not merely those who practice some form of meditation or relaxation ~ one who lives in the Silence does not have to do a practice of meditation, though he or she will relax in silence quietly often ~, but those who live from the Silence, speak in this manner. Their speech is thoughtful, non-hurried. This is for they are speaking from the Silence, even as they live and breathe from the Silence. A whole room of persons may be discussing something, all giving only information, possibly with strong emotional content, yet the contemplative will be speaking forth the Silence, even when giving information, and calmly. The emotional content of contemplatives can be subtly intense, but not emotionally intense as is that of persons located in the mind and feelings. Be aware, however, intimatic speech does not mean one is not giving information, for all speech is informational to an extent.
The song says, "Smile an everlasting smile, A smile can bring you near to me." This seems to point to something other than mere words. Can a smile arise from the Silence?
A smile is, in a sense, a word, a more subtle communication than spoken words. When you smile, you are saying something. Notice, the lyrics have "everlasting smile" as later "everlasting words." This points to a quality beyond mere informational. Basically, we could ask, What is the quality of consciousness being communicated through the words? The smile? The touch? The song? The poem? The laughter? The tears? In a sense, all these and more are word, some closer to silence, more subtle, some farther from silence, less subtle. Intimacy decreases as we move from silence, increases in the move toward silence. Again, this does not mean the absence of words, for the spiritual contemplative has wedded words and silence, so that there is no separation between from where he or she does not speak and from where he or she speaks. Yet, for most persons this is not possible. The spiritual contemplative has a rare gift, and much needed in our world of words and felt isolation. Silence unifies, while words without silence tend to leave us feeling more isolated, more alone in a world where words are spoken devoid of the power of silence, so lacking the power of Love. This is why the spiritual contemplative can be such a powerful presence, and helpful presence, to another without him or her saying anything.
What about words and worshiping?
In one sense, any action from the Silence is worship of the Silence, of God. Of worship more traditionally understood... Recently, exhausted, I walked out into the night. I walked around, then to the backyard of the home. After a time of silence, I began retracing my steps to return inside. On the way, suddenly, I felt that sense before tears. I let the tears flow. After a time, I walked back into the backyard. I stood beside a tree. I listened to the sounds in the night, including the wind moving among the tree limbs about me. I began verbal prayer. Then, I began singing the first stanza of the hymn "Amazing Grace" into the quiet, dark night. See, all of that was worship, the walking, the tears, the singing, the words of prayer and song, ... all of it. All of it was word, from silence, the Silence, returned to the Source, so Love. Yet, when I speak with someone from my heart to his or her heart, that is worship. In Life, all becomes worship, without even thinking of the action one is involved in as worship.
We spoke yesterday of lovers. How does it apply, this silence and words?
When you say "I love you" from the Silence, it is not the same as "I love you" from the sense of self. The "I" is different, the "love" is different, the "you" is different, and the you saying "I love you" is different. This is why, as yesterday, spiritual intimacy among lovers cannot be called merely romantic. When spiritual connection between lovers, their intent is to live and love from the Silence, not only with each other, but for the union to serve others. The union becomes the means of God, the union, likewise, for the enjoyment of the two. Simply to enjoy the other, that is worship, that is praise. Adoring the One, is adoring the other. Your bodies become altars for the sacrifice of all lesser loves to be transformed into Love Itself.
Song can be accessed on original site via upper-left artist-title below...
(C)brian k wilcox 2020
*Quote of Alan Watts, from Akṣapāda. Tao of Alan Watts: 444 Expressions of Zen.