Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Silence, Part 2: in many guises

Japanese Feather
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

The Unmanifested is not separate from the manifested. It pervades this world, but it is so well disguised that almost everybody misses it completely…
Do you hear that dog barking in the distance? Or that car passing by? Listen carefully. Can you feel the presence of the Unmanifested in that?
... Every sound is born out of silence, dies back into silence, and during its life span is surrounded by silence. Silence enables the sound to be…
The Unmanifested is present in this world as silence… All you have to do is pay attention to it…
You cannot pay attention to silence without simultaneously becoming still within. Silence without, stillness within. You have entered the Unmanifested.
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, Chapter 7, “Portals into the Unmanifested”

It is curious to me that Tolle doesn’t capitalize Silence, yet he does capitalize Unmanifested. I have always equated the two. Perhaps, I am wrong in this.

When my consciousness first shifted, back in 1975, the shift (my awakening?) began with a sudden thundering of Silence. I was leaning over to whisper a joke to a friend, as we sat watching a video tape of Maharishi, played to a roomful of TM teachers in the midst of a six week retreat. I was midway through my lean, when Silence cracked so abruptly I jerked straight up in my chair.

I never finished my lean, nor did I ever deliver my snide comment.
Instead, I looked around the room absorbed by this all pervading Silence.
At that moment my life was changed forever.
Then, I got up and walked out.

I no longer recall why I felt so compelled to leave. It was night. We were in the country and being out under a brilliant canopy of stars, rather than in the confines of a crowded room, was probably my motivation.

By the time I was done walking, it was long past lights-out, and my new found friend (the course leader who’d accompanied me when I fled the meeting) was pretty much holding me up. My legs had grown wobbly. I’d become quite drunk on my new reality. Eventually, she dumped me upon my bed to spend the night totally Awake.
I slept one hour every other night for the next two weeks. It made little difference whether my eyes were shut or open, whether my body moved, sat still, or slept.
I was always Awake. … How I managed to go back to sleep is a story for another time.

Since then, Silence has broken in upon my ordinary awareness time and time again during the most mundane behavior.
It strikes suddenly, without preamble.
It always seems precipitated by some other simple sound: a fly pinging against a lamp shade, a dog barking in the distance.
It can be electrifyingly intense or have the strangest subtlety.

I’ve had Silence spin me almost off my chair while sitting in a coffee shop.
I’ve watched Silence roll across the room just as a wave rolls to shore, buckling my knees and felling those around me also, in something of a silent tsunami.
It feels as if I’m going to faint, but I never have. I simply lose thought and muscular control for some few moments.
This has even happened while working at the computer in the lab. I was startled to watch computer monitor go black in perfect synchrony with Silence descent upon me.
We had to reboot the system. After the third time, the monitor was dead.
I never mentioned my involvement to the others and the Department covered costs.

Silence is not simply about sound.
It is also about space and form, which is just a way of saying it is also about Nothingness.

Just as no sound can exist without silence, nothing can exist without no-thing, without the empty space that enables it to be. Every physical object or body has come out of nothing, is surrounded by nothing, and will eventually return to nothing…. The Unmanifested is not only present in this world as silence; it also pervades the entire physical universe as space - from within and from without. …Nothing – space – is the appearance of the Unmanifested as an externalized phenomenon in a sense-perceived world. That’s about all one can say about it, and even that is kind of a paradox. …Space and silence are two aspects of the same thing, the same nothing.
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, Chapter Seven.

Silence is also about Love.
When Maharishi “made me a teacher,” I sat alone with him for sometime and we talked. As a final gesture, he gave me a picture of his teacher, Guru Dev, then said, “Now, you keep him happy.”
With those words, a wave of Silence, some “carpet flap” in an Ocean of Nothingness started at the far wall of the room. I knew it to be Maharishi’s love for Guru Dev and I watched it roll towards us. Even though I’d seen it coming, its splashiness of Love was beyond any expectation. Speechless and wide-eyed, I reached out with both my hands, clamped them hard upon the lithograph, bowed and backed out of there.

My Penguin paperback edition of the Bhagavad Gita is old and very fragile now.
But, I had it with me back when my consciousness first submerged into Silence.
These are the words that I underlined then.
I’m sorry that Adyashanti doesn’t speak about God more. Perhaps it is the Zen in him.
And I’m sorry that I couldn’t stay Awake. Perhaps it is the ego in me.

In cosmic consciousness silence and activity co-exist at the same level; whereas the level of God-consciousness is completely free of all duality; it is the living silence of eternal life, and Unity pervades all activity as water every wave…. When the awareness of the Self in cosmic consciousness develops into the awareness of God in God-consciousness, it develops on the level of silence; the whole process is one of the transformation of silence. At every step the quality of silence changes.… In transcendental consciousness, silence is devoid of any activity. In cosmic consciousness, the silence of Self-awareness co-exists with activity. In God-consciousness, the co-existence of activity and silence is transformed into oneness of awareness with God. This silence of God-consciousness is the most highly developed state of silence. It is all life on the almighty level of existence. It is the omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient silence of Godhead. It is a completely different state of silence, which has nothing in common with the silence of cosmic consciousness or transcendental consciousness.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, On the Bhagavad Gita, A New Translation and Commentary, Chapter 6, verse 3.


hereticalpolemicist said...

Silence is like he depths of the sea with the disturance of the waves showing its power. We ar analogus to the manisfestation of the waves to the sea. Our energy is the manisfestation of the "silence", potentiality of the "stillness" that is dynamic through us and the rest of creation. account,

hereticalpolemicist said...

The silence is another form of the potentiality of the stillness which the dynamicforces of creation are manifested from/ We are representations of the power of the stillness and metaphors of its nature.