Merry Christmas Eve! It’s early Thursday morning and I find myself sitting with a hint of something to say lingering in my mind. I’ve been very quiet lately, almost as if there’s nothing left to say, and so I sit watching quietly, observing actively. I have some fear about this whole silent stage, I identify so aggressively with always having something to say. It’s hard to see myself as someone with nothing to say at all, it actually scares me a bit. Yet I’ve committed to a path of growth and this is where I’m at, so I must accept and move on. Is there really nothing left to say, or do I just not know what the heck to do with myself? Something that’s always bothered me about the path to expand and grow is that it’s labeled as being “groundless” and therefore cannot be explained, and is “everything” and therefore cannot be isolated. So on one hand that’s sounds pretty great, but from the other I think that really sucks. Mainly because why go on the path to grow and become enlightened at all if you can’t explain it and help others to do the same?! Seems like a selfish pursuit, from the outside.
Yet It’s unavoidable, you must use yourself as the vessel on the path to Enlightenment, but for me the only reason I’ve persevered through some very challenging times is the belief that all this hard work will eventually result in helping others. In the beginning of this journey I believed that how I would eventually help others would be in the realm of something formal, structured and deliberate. Now I understand that sometimes our contribution to society is as simple as a prayer, you do the work on yourself and hope that is penetrates into the world around you; be in a an example, a breath of fresh air, the one who stops the negative chain reaction. I’d still like to do something more formal, structured and deliberate, I’ll never give up that dream.
I want to help people raise awareness and find enlightenment, but I also want to caution people about the path as well, it’s like turning on a waterfall of information on top of yourself that never runs dry. At first it’s overwhelming, relentless and can drive you mad, but over time you learn how to protect yourself from the constant flow of information. You learn as time passes that all of this information and these things exist as the pulse of something much bigger, expansive and ever-present. The necessary consequence for awareness is the bombardment of emotions that come along with it. You’re not just being inundated with information but also with the emotion of that information, and that is when things get really intense. This is when we start to experience the result of overwhelming misplaced emotions pent up on our bodies, as we reach for any sort of distraction. The problem is that once you turn on awareness, distractions become less and less effective. So you look for more and more to fill the bottomless pit of information and overwhelming emotions that come along with it. Work, food, alcohol, drugs, vacations, electronics… Admittedly, through this process a nice glass of wine every once in a while really helps!
The point of overwhelm is where silence is supposed to step in. Your level of tolerance will only be unique to you. Silence is essentially taking a step back to allow yourself to see the information from a different perspective, which is the first step towards working out your emotional connectedness to the barrage of information. This is the point at which the chaos of life and overwhelm of emotions have reached a precipice. You can no longer take any more, but addiction or psychosis are not acceptable outcomes, so you must move forward, otherwise the path looks grim and hopeless. You must persevere. So what’s next? Silence, but not just sitting and being quite, actual pre-meditated and practiced silence. It sounds so simple, yet how do you cultivate silence when you have an overwhelming waterfall of information falling on top of you all the time. Fortunately, there are many bridges between the never ending noise of life and silence, it’s a path traversed many different ways, in all sorts of perspectives, not exclusive to the eastern spiritual path. For this I am grateful. Because once you open the doors to unfiltered information and you begin to see things differently, you never know what’s going to resonate with you once you’re ready to turn down the volume to the noise of life.
So I sit here with myself, deliberately quiet, consciously silent, as I watch and observe the expansiveness of silence and the comfort of no mind. The aspects of myself that I cherish the most tremble in the light of not having a purpose in the place where everything is silent. The Controller doesn’t know what comes after this, if anything, and that is terrifying to her; yet even in silence the Controller exists. Silence is not without the aspects of the self, the self is completely whole in the place with no mind. Ken Wilbur describes the expansion of consciousness as “transcend and include”, it’s been my experience that cultivating silence brings clarity to this description. In other words, you grow not to leave everything behind, but to bring them along with you in a more integrated and healthy manner. Awareness of the noise of life and conscious silence are two sides of the same coin. Turning on your awareness to life isn’t so difficult, it’s an important and necessary step to growing, but it’s learning to turn it all down that is the challenge.
Learning to quite the noise in a healthy manner is something we’re not taught in school or in our day to day experiences. It’s really only taught in the pursuit of spiritual development. You experience silence when you put your faith in God, meditate, do yoga, hike, surf and so on. The problem is that if we look at the aspects of spiritual development as an “escape” from the noise, then we are setting ourselves up for major disappointment when the noise returns, and sometimes interrupts our attempts to escape. We also successfully put our spiritual practice in the same category as addiction, a means to isolate the noise, not to integrate it. So yes even the spiritual pursuit can be manipulated to distract rather than to transcend.
I feel it only appropriate to pay homage to the meaning of Christmas with a quote from the bible that seems fitting for the topic at hand. Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”