Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Silent night

The other day, a friend of mine and reader of this space published a note by Jeanne de Salzmann on silence. It led me to ponder this question anew.

 I'll confess that it always appalls me when people prattle on about silence verbally, which seems to be one of the more grotesque contradictions about the need to exchange on inner work, contrasted against the impossibility of grasping anything with the mind and the parts that conduct this exchange. Nonetheless, as Dogen said, we must expound the Dharma... and so it falls upon us to discuss silence, no matter how painful it may be.

The hymn "Silent Night, Holy Night" begins with the premise of Silence. Somehow, the invocation of Silence at the beginning of this hymn is what confers all its power on it; we sense the Presence of not earthly, but heavenly forces... forces that are unknown in their expression.

Indeed, this is what the whole story of the Nativity is about; the arrival of an unknown force that has the power of transformation.

 That unknown force is the power of the Holy Spirit; the higher energy that Jeanne de Salzmann so often referred to, the same inflow that Swedenborg cited as the influence of Heaven.

 It is this influence of Heaven that we attempt to become open to, and we do not do that with the ordinary mind or any of the ordinary parts. We call the parts ordinary and the mind ordinary because they are part of an order, and they belong to a lower order, that is, this level. To be ordinary is not to be mundane or useless, it is simply to be a part of a hierarchy with a specific place. It is an objective condition. The condition itself may give rise to subjectivity, but let's not confuse the results of the condition with the condition itself.

All of the ordinary parts on this level seek to become open to the order of a higher level. This influence, this inward flow, is Silence.   I distinguish this from ordinary silence with an uppercase letter, since they are nothing like one another.

This cannot be known without encountering Silence; yet to put it in such words somewhat beggars the question. Temptation will, in some senses, forever consist of the wish to explain these things; and to the extent that we contaminate the question of Silence with our ordinary parts, we mix levels, which is in essence forbidden.

To come into contact with the Silence is to submit. The Silence is forever present within the Holy Spirit, and the inward flow of the Holy Spirit will vary in intensity and strength, although, once it is alive, it is forever available and always there to be called on in an instant if one wishes to come into relationship. While it's true that we don't always have the energy to discover that connection, it will never let us forget its own Presence, because God does not abandon His own. Although we are here to be submitted to the trials of this life—which will be demanding and always (lawfully) one step beyond the limit of our abilities—the presence of Mercy and Grace are forever with us if we are faithful. The Silence transmits such properties to us so that we can contain them within ourselves and help express their qualities.

This is the sacred duty of every human being.

To be faithful means not to adhere to any dogmas, but to be loyal to the inward flow of the Holy Spirit and its Silence. The Psalms refer to this in many different ways, in regard to the comfort that the Lord sends us. So hear; and understand.

To the extent that we confuse Silence with something we know about, an action we think we can undertake, or a choice we can make, we do not understand. Understanding only comes from within the inward flow of the Holy Spirit. If this flow is truly powerful, strange and marvelous things take place within Being; but we cannot always live like that. It isn't according to the laws of this level.

We are certainly here to come into relationship with the power of the Silence; this realigns everything when it enters our Being, and a new feeling relationship with our life arises.


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