Silence is not an end in itself. It is rather the interior ‘ground’ in and from which we find common ground with others. The work of silence is the practice of noticing the noise and clutter of our own minds and intentionally turning ‘the face of our mind’ to behold the silence of deeper mind. Practices such as meditation are a way towards this interior movement; a way of stilling our noisy mind so that we can hear and see with clarity. The work of silence and the increasing capacity to behold is a way of integrative peace and wholeness. Silence as common ground for all faith traditions and the reality of our common human condition is a way of reconciling, redeeming relationship with the other. The mind that is liberated from its own noise, clutter and addictive patterns is free to engage with difference without being threatened by difference. This liberation is salvific; it is salve or in other words ‘saving’ in that we gradually notice we are less reactive, less dogmatic either in religious, psychological or political terms. This doesn’t mean we are disengaged but rather the way in which we engage changes. We become more contemplative in action. In this way we contribute to peace as we are no longer compelled to go into battle to defend or attack our egoic stance. Rather, we grow in a contemplative stance towards life. Through the work of silence, we find we can remain present with respectful regard for the other. We may not always agree however we will find a compassionate and open way to converse and to disagree and yet to relate with loving-kindness. The world is desperately in need of wisdom, the wisdom of silence. Life on earth faces an existential challenge in the form of climate change and general ecological devastation. We are constantly distracted by both interior and exterior noise. There is a direct relationship between our noisy, grasping, one-dimensional mind and the ways in which humanity is shaping the earth. We need to be informed by the silence of deep mind; to become re-centred in wisdom, loving- kindness and the vision that recognizes we are one body. What we do to the least we do to the whole. Silence is not an end in itself but is the open-endedness of the Reality of God, Ground of Being.
Note: the terms ‘behold’ and ‘deep mind’ are taken from the work of Maggie Ross whose seminal book ‘Silence: A User’s Guide’, has become a significant source text in my life.
Maggie Ross, Silence: A User’s Guide, Cascade Books, 2014