Silence: the absence of sound; still, quietness (Webster’s New World Dictionary: Second College Edition).
It must be obvious that we cannot find an environment totally silent; even in a sound-proof room we can still perceive the sounds of our own body, such as the blood pulsing through our arteries. To be silent, then, in our context, means quietness of the thought process, and not the absence of sound.
Human beings are verbal animals that have the capacity to convey, receive, and retain information; thus, man “acculturates.” Acculturation is the process of conditioning a child to the patterns of a culture or society. Being verbally trained in this manner, the brain generates and carries a continual stream of verbiage for its usage, this constituting the thought process.
As we are constantly busying ourselves with work, relationships, or entertainment, we seldom have the luxury of being truly silent. We are ever thinking about the past, worrying about something, or fantasizing about the future. In other words, the mind is always “chattering. ”
It is typical of our conditioning to be occupied, or entertained; as a consequence, we use large amounts of energy and cause the body to be in a constant state of tension. This makes relaxation imperative for modern man. Even when taking vacations, going somewhere to relax, we usually come back tired from the constant activity of our “fun time.” Therefore, we obviously need the kind of relaxation where one’s entire being is at rest. Since mind and body are one, relaxation, to be effective, must be complete: that is, mental and muscular activities must both come to a near halt. When such total relaxation occurs, all movements are effortless and the mind is barely occupied. The chatter stops and only the necessary thought process takes place.
It is in this state that a human being has the opportunity to experience “real silence,” by which is meant a state of mind where direct insight may occur, this happens outside of the thought process. While this is not something that can be induced or practiced, one can totally relax one’s body/mind, be aware of the thought process, and let go of thoughts as they appear.
Thinking can never bring “real silence” because thought separates the “thinker” from itself. We say, “I think,” “‘I’ have thoughts,” rather than, “There is thought.” This division makes silence impossible. Which is going to be silent: the “I” or the “thought?”
If thought stops, where is the “I?” If the “I” is not, where is thought? It is the old chicken-and-egg type of problem: “I am, therefore I think” or “I think, therefore I am?” This dilemma is obviously the product of the thought process, which divides the thinker from thought.
In “true silence” can there be a thinker or a thought?
A further fundamental question is: Can this true silence ”in which the split between thinker and thought is no more” be coexistent with the hustle and bustle of everyday life? Does this not mean that the “chattering” mind is totally quiet, and thought springs into action only where required on the purely functional level? To this end, let us ex-amine a little more closely the nature of our present consciousness.
The consciousness of man continues to exist as it has been inherited from his primordial ancestors. “Survival of the fittest” permeates the basic behavior expressed in man’s territorial protectionism (wars), ambition, and competition. As long as man thinks on those lines, a large part of his mind is naturally concerned with the building of security, so that the individual, as a psychological entity, may survive. Thus, conflict characterizes our way of life as an inevitability, and the continuous psychological pressure produces a state of turmoil in which there is no possibility for the “silent mind” to prevail.
In spite of the many changes in the culture, scientific improvements, and the so-called “betterment” of individuals, the fact remains that problems are ever escalating.
Each individual is a hologramatic part of humanity; that is, each contains the whole of mankind. Just as a small section of the holographic film projects the whole picture, so we too express in our way of living the whole of humanity’s consciousness.
Man needs to face the truth of his state of consciousness as humanity, with the totality of his being, and not merely intellectually as one more concept to be stored in memory. Before he can experience a different way of living, the actual facts of his existence must be seen without judgment or evaluation, without rejection or acceptance, and without the use of any belief system. For this, a deep inquiry of oneself is needed, the nature of which must be totally without explanation or analysis. There should be no help by authorities from psychology, religion or imposition of any external viewpoint that would modify the findings. Observation must be direct and in daily relationships, thereby uncovering the truth of ‘what is.”
Total awareness of the way the individual functions as humanity will bring clarity into the miserable, conditioned, and mechanical way of living which is passed on from generation to generation, keeping man in his mental prison. For a different way of living to become a reality, there must be freedom. Since our minds are totally conditioned, a total or radical change must occur in the very foundation of consciousness.
What is truly needed for peace and harmonious relationships is a transformation at the very root of the individual. A radical change at this level is a change in the consciousness of man. Thus, each one of us is responsible for the inquiry into the forces ruling our present way of being.
Therefore, we ask: Can man, so totally trained to function as a separate entity, responsible primarily to himself, realize that he is humanity’s consciousness and, therefore, responsible also for everyone else on the planet?
This seemingly impossible awareness manifests when the “I” dissolves and gains for the “me” no longer predominate consciousness. When our present consciousness is no more, a different kind of living becomes possible, in which the silent mind can prevail.