It’s three weeks since we ended six weeks of Noble Silence and still this brain struggles to emerge, to re-enter the great noise called World. I confess it willingly – I am utterly addicted to this silver singing silence, this heavenly quiet mind.
Retreat is such a blessed gift to oneself and the world. Radical withdrawal from mental habitude, a halt in the rut-laying wheels of thought and, perhaps, a fresh unfettered flow of neuronal activity – new insights, deeper, vaster, clearer perception, creative ecstasy. A five-star spa treatment for the mind.
I speak personally; I’m aware that for some retreatants keeping silent is as much fun as having teeth drilled, and the possibility of sinking into its embrace seems remote. I say “seems” for this isn’t an insurmountable obstacle. It’s just one that requires perseverance and patience – and healthy doses of kindness towards oneself. A mind that has run amok for decades will never respond meekly to quietude! (She who writes has intimate knowledge of this!)
Silver singing silence … so sweet. Beyond bliss. Why do I write “silver”? Because there’s a sense that the background of silent Awareness is a glistening sparkling silvery shower of water – clumsy words these, for what I’m trying to describe is not an experience. It arises in the absence of an experiencer. In the same way “singing” is a word that comes up in an attempt to express the sense that a host of angelic voices are raised in an endless “Ah!” of praise, a chorus that resounds within and without the energy field called body. Why aren’t we told that this beyond-bliss lies on the other side of the frequency barrier called thought? Hmmmm. Actually, sages and saints have gone on record since time immemorial reporting such states. But we seek experiences and so remain trapped in the world of thought.
I met a Lama and made a friend. I confessed to him, poured out the secrets of my hidden inner life. He listened kindly. He knew. He never tried to adjust or re-word, but only to sharpen, clarify and deepen my understanding. He gave me an odd practice: “Blow the conch!” Release timidity and shyness, bellow the primordial Truth!
Have you ever tried to get sound out of a massive Tibetan conch? Day after day you huff and puff with nothing to show for it but your own hot air and giddy hyperventilation. Then, when you’ve exhausted all your clever lip-tricks and breath techniques, you just sit with the darned thing. You’re sure you’ll never get a sound out of it; you just breathe your OM and give in.
It was at that point when a rogue thought came up: What if I had to use this thing to save my life? What if it was my only tool of communication with the world? Goosebumps. Hair stood on end.
I blew. It boomed.
The shock of it!
And so I speak to save my life. I write these things on my little blog for the sake of Life, for the immense and incomprehensible Presence that powers the ‘I’ in all beings. I speak because I must, because this silver singing silence demands it.
– miriam louisa