Hello, everybody. This video refers to the article in the website “Spiritual Study”, the article whose title is “The practice of silence”. This video, as usual, adds some more notes to what you can find already in the lesson, in the article.
The first note that I would like to add is that silence, ideally, is experienced if it’s lived not just as that moment, what I’m doing in that moment of silence, how I’m experiencing that moment of silence, but as an experience that has a history behind it, which means connected with the preceding experiences of silence. Even if we live our experiences not really with a path, with connections, with an aim, anyway it happens that, in our life, everything is connected so we can get the most of our experience of silence if we consider this: there is a way, an evolution, a progress, either wanted or unwanted, we might be aware or unaware of it. So, it’s better, of course, being aware of what is happening over time in our experiences of silence. In other words, I would like to encourage to live our experience of silence both as a single experience, but also as an experience connected with our history of experiences of silence, maybe even all the experience of silence that we have had in our life.
Another note is that we can experience silence not only when everything stays silent, like when I don’t talk or when in music instruments don’t play anything, but the opposite, that is, the sound, the words, the music is able to carry an experience of silence, not only when it stops from playing, but in the note themselves. So, the words that I’m saying now are able to carry an experience of silence and, again, not in the silence that is between two single words, and in music not in the pauses of silence between the notes, but in the notes themselves, in the sound itself, either of words or of notes.
How is it possible? We know that humanly we are able to perceive this, we are able to perceive that a music, a speech, a phrase, a word is able to transmit an experience of silence. I said: it’s our humanity, it’s our human DNA that has this sensitivity. This means that, most probably, we can receive, we can perceive the silence contained in a music or in a word, because the producer was able to put some silence inside it. I’ll try to explain how it is possible to put silence inside a word, inside a musical note.
But first I would like to add another note, because, by saying this, that is, we can find the silence everywhere, even in sounds, in music, in words, this can make some kind of confusion; that is, if silence is everywhere, we can become victims of people who want to be full of charm, romantic, they want to impress us with their ability and we can become victims of pseudo spiritualities, spiritualities that have no value. So, what criterion can we apply in order not to be victims of this? I will just add one simple criterion, that is the criterion of criticism and self-criticism. Apparently it is not very connected with silence, but I think you can realize, over a path of spirituality, that actually there is a connection. I mean, if the person who is talking is able to admit her modesty, her limits, the limits of what she is saying, then this means that that person is aware of the fact that what she is saying is exposed to criticism. This is self-criticism. This means: I know the limits of my thoughts and my words. There are no words without limits, with absolute perfection, we are all humans, full of errors, mistakes, imperfections. This means a kind of listening: I’m listening to my humanity, the humanity of the world, the humanity of the people. This is able to transmit a silence, because this means that I’m putting a listening inside my words, listening of my limits, of our humanity, our human condition in this world.
Now let’s go back to what I was saying: putting silence inside words and sounds. This can happen in a way that does not need actually any special techniques. Just a simple way, that is, if, before talking, if, before making a music, I spend some time to meditate, to experience silence, to listen to me, to the life, to other people, to humanity, then that silence that was automatically built inside me will inhabit automatically my behavior, my words, the music that I play and hopefully other people with some kind of sensitivity will be able to perceive that there is some silence, an experience of silence inside what I’m trying to communicate.
In this context, a very important and meaningful example of this are the Russian icons. The Russian icons are usually faces, portraits, but not only, with a specific style of painting. A characteristic of these icons is that they are not just pieces of art, but they are the result of a spiritual experience, that is: the artist, before making Russian icons, according to the tradition, where they put themselves, the artist first prayed, meditated, made silence, so the work of art is actually part of a whole spiritual experience. It’s not just art, at least, as we perceive art, like a production, but it is an experience that transmits silence, maybe faith, if that person is a believer, maybe in God. So, this is the intention of Russian icons: to be vehicle of a religious experience. So, they should be received, enjoyed not just by looking at them, but trying to enter in some kind of connection with the artist, so trying to understand that, if I want to see the spiritual experience that is carried by that Russian icon, I should cultivate something at least similar in me. This is the experience of transmitting, of the silence that is able to flow from a person, from a speech, from words, and even from music.
Another idea, another note about silence is connected to experiences that we can find in the Bible, referred to the desert. Israel, when they escaped from Egypt, they found themselves in the desert and the desert is frequently mentioned in the Bible as a place of experiencing a spiritual experience, silence, poverty, absence of food and, what is important in this? Because I think there is a risk of misunderstanding.
Misunderstanding can happen if we mean the desert like an experience of something that is pure, immaculate, because there are not other things, there is not noise, but actually this way of conceiving the desert and even silence has the risk of putting ourselves in a mentality that is actually platonism. Platonism is distinguishing a world, an upper world, that is the world of ideas, that is the world of perfection, and our poor world, that is the world of things that can fail, have a lot of flaws, can change and so on. So, it contains the idea that there is somewhere the ideal of everything: the world of ideas: this was Plato, the philosophy of Plato. I think this is not really a strong, deep, meaningful spiritual context. About the desert, what is important is not purity, because we are never pure: we, as I said, we are humans, so we are full of imperfection, of noise mixed with our silence. Rather, I would say that what is important in the desert is poverty: poverty of words, poverty of content, of food, of wealth, of money, of everything, but poverty, that means, poverty not because poverty means suffering, but poverty because what is good in poverty is that it stimulates us to go to the essential, what is essential in life, while, when we have a lot of things, it’s more difficult to concentrate, to focus: what is essential in my life? So, in silence, in the desert we can make some cleaning from the noise, from the too many things that are not important, because this way we can gain awareness of what is essential in human existence, what do we want to be essential in our life.
Last thought about silence is that it can also shape our charity, our love towards people. I mean, charity can be a very shallow, very superficial action if we mean it like giving some money to the poor people to help them. This means just to avoid them to disturb our life, while instead, if I am in the context of silence, silence is connected strongly to listening, so I won’t just “Okay, take this money and go away”, but listening means: I want to listen to you, what is your life, I want to connect my life to your one. So, real charity becomes vital, existential connection to the people who we want to help.
So, these are some thoughts about silence. I hope that they will be interesting and useful for your spiritual experience and I invite you, if you like, to share your thoughts, your experiences in my website Spiritual Study. There is also the forum for discussions, so everyone can be free to express even himself or herself in that place, in those ways.
See you in next lessons