I came across this one line from Yogananda about silence. It’s one of those expressions of truth which utterly arrest your attention. Everything else stopped when I read it and it took me into the center of its real meaning.

In your silence God’s silence ceases.

Here’s the entire context.

Sensations pouring in through the sensory nerves keep the mind filled with myriad noisy thoughts, so that the whole attention is toward the senses. But God’s voice is silence. Only when thoughts cease can one hear the voice of God communicating through the silence of intuition. In your silence God’s silence ceases. He speaks to you through your intuition. For the devotee whose consciousness is inwardly united with God, an audible response from Him is unnecessary – intuitive thoughts and true visions constitute God’s voice. These are not the result of the stimuli of the senses, but the combination of the devotee’s silence and God’s voice of silence.

— Paramahansa Yogananda

Then I found the perspective of Gordon Hempton. Using a different language and viewpoint, he makes an inspirational case for silence. He is an ‘acoustic ecologist,’ and one line from him that had the same arresting effect on me is:

Silence is not the absence of something but the presence of everything.

Here’s the rest of what he says about silence.

When you’re in a place of natural silence, you’re not alone, and you can feel it. Whether it’s birdcalls from miles away or the proximity of a giant tree whose warm tones you can feel, there’s a presence. It’s a quieting experience….

Sound is a wave that passes through air, water, and even solid objects. Natural sounds generate a sinusoidal wave, with rounded peaks, which is easy on the ears. Many mechanized sounds are square or sawtooth shaped or have jagged edges. If you see them on an oscilloscope, you’ll know why they’re unpleasant to listen to….

And related to living on our planet at this time, with its myriad of troubles:

Natural quiet allows us to fall in love with a place and appreciate how unique it is. Noise detaches us — not only from our surroundings but also from each other. Research shows that in noisy areas people are much less likely to help each other. That’s one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from being in natural silence: that we can begin to feel love for a place and, through it, for everything. This is crucial for the health of our planet because, when you love something, caring for it becomes effortless. Just as we care for the people we love without asking, “What will I get out of it?” so does love enable us to care for our world without running a cost-benefit analysis to see whether it’s “worth it.”

Even though you’re reading this via some form of technology, which is part of the digital noise we also live with on the planet at this time, take a few moments and simply stop. Let your body breathe for you and put your whole awareness on it. Just notice the breath moving. That’s all.

To help you, here’s a photo I took at the city park my son has his basketball practice. Such spaces and moments are always available if we but notice and claim them.



Unstruck Sound

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