For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Sacred Silence

Loren Webster from In a Dark Time . . .The Eye Begins to See has been blogging some thoughts about Joan Halifax's book The Fruitful Darkness: A Journey through Buddhist Practice and Tribal Wisdom. The first post in his sequence starts here. I was very taken with this passage quoted by Loren:

The poet Kathleen Raine once suggested, 'It is not that birds speak, but men learn silence.' I think that it is when we learn silence that the birds speak to us. Fertile silence is like a placenta nourishing us from both emptiness and its connectedness with the greater organism of creation. Indeed, one aspect of silence is emptiness, and yes, it is often lonely. In the presence of silence, the conditioned self rattles and scratches. It begins to crumble like old leaves or worn rock. If we have courage, we take silence as medicine to cure us from our social ills, the suffering of self-centered alienation. In silence, sacred silence, we stand naked like trees in winter, all our secrets visible under our skin. And like winter’s tree, we appear dead but are yet alive.

I really want to read this book.

9 comments:

John Pendrey said...

I liked that quote too and on the strength of that and having read about her life I have also ordered the book.

George said...

Here's to anything, including silence, that will allow the conditioned self to rattle and scratch. I agree — sounds like a great book to read.

Dominic Rivron said...

And why on earth do birds sing? To attract a mate, sure - but I think we sometimes make assumptions about animal behaviour, that its roots are biological, comparable to the assumptions archaeologists are thought prone to make, that every artifact they find has a ritual or religious significance.

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, her biography so far sounds extraordinary and exemplary, John.

I'm going to order that book, George…

… and Dominic, I do so agree we make those assumptions, when the truth is often more complex...

Loren said...

I think you will like it, Robert, especially the part about her treks around the mountain in Tibet.

I could probably spend the rest of the year discussing the ideas she introduces in the book.

The Weaver of Grass said...

So many people seem really afraid of silence and have to fill it with some kine of soune - the radio, the television. I find, as I spend a large part of every day alone, that silence is really therapeutic.

Ruth Mowry said...

Wonderful.

I just read this in the new Parabola issue:

"Before she could speak, my daughter taught me the language of silent things: fruits, flowers, an oaken chair. I came to understand, through my relationship to this small being, why the word 'adult' forms the root of 'adulteration' and 'adultery.' Watching her, it became apparent that, as we mature, we fall from grace of the whole-seeing beginner’s mind that is our birthright. If, as Emily Dickinson says, 'What awaits us in the unfurnished eye,' then what awaits us are the senses we were born with. She’s a teenager now, but when Lila was six months old she reawakened me to the way in which an orange speaks."

–Anita Doyle on letting the world speak, from Parabola Volume XX, Number 3 "Language and Meaning," August, 1995.

Ruth Mowry said...

Here is the whole excerpt by Anita Doyle.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for dropping by, Loren and Pat.

That's a nice piece, Ruth. 'Lila’s love at first sight-touch-taste taught me not only that oranges speak, but what they speak with surprising eloquence.'