“In silence which is active, the Inner Light begins to glow – a tiny spark. For the flame to be kindled and to grow, subtle argument and the clamour of our emotions must be stilled. It is by an attention full of love that we enable the Inner Light to blaze and illuminate our dwelling and to make of our whole being a source from which this Light may shine out.
Words must be purified in a redemptive silence if they are to bear the message of peace. The right to speak is a call to the duty of listening. Speech has no meaning unless there are attentive minds and silent hearts. Silence is the welcoming acceptance of the other. The word born of silence must be received in silence.“
Pierre Lacout, 1969
Speaking out takes a certain courage. There is a risk to sharing our fears, hopes and concerns. How it will go cannot be guaranteed and although we’re told it is preferable to ‘get things out in the open’ and not ‘bottle up’ we’ve all experienced times when speaking our truth has gone disastrously wrong.
Cheerful sunbeam people are openly loved and immensely popular, lifting spirits and inspiring hope that feels divine. When we are consumed with worry it can be a preoccupation that our burden will weigh down whomsoever we choose to share it with. We become the opposite of optimistic and this is ultimately undesirable, talking about problems has an associated guilt therefore and it can be hard to shake off.
We all experience this phenomenon once in a while. We all find ourselves desperately in need of someone to talk to but stuck because we’re not sure whether we can or should.
Step one, we must first wait with our woes a while. When the urge to share feels strongest silent stillness is a wise guide. There is a realm we can create for ourselves where inner conflicts can safely be sifted through. Emotions can be destructive, distorting circumstances and leading us to accuse and blame in anger . When we sit with ourselves a while we begin to question our expectations. Maybe we have asked too much, perhaps we have not been as fair as we thought. Fear can urge us to push away those we’d rather hold close… With clarity we see our responsibilities, where they begin and end, where we or others have overstepped boundaries or failed to step up as required.
There is so much to learn when we settle our minds and observe the chatter within. If we simply react to the world around us we are reacting to feelings arising from this chatter, we are easily led towards being hurt and mistaken. There is a deeper more constant truth, we know it through stillness, it is there we find reason and a great source of inner strength.
Arguments are the product of reaction, in the throes of argument asserting the feelings we have and defending them seems of prime importance. Protestation after protestation cycles around and around until, through weariness and guilt, we must concede and forgive. This external upset can be avoided by first listening to ourselves, only then can we hope to sensibly be heard by others.
And what of others? When we are ready to be heard and need a listener, who do we turn to? And when others come to us how should we be?
I read an article a few weeks ago about comforting the bereaved, what to say and what not to say. One of the recommendations was to abandon the phrase “I’m here for you” as it is subtly dissociative and instead say ” I am there with you”.
This struck me as sound advice, it reminded me of the many times I hear “I’m here if you want to talk”. Rarely do I take people up on an offer like that, it feels like I’ve been told they’re around and probably busy but will make time for me if I need it. Different story when I hear “do you feel able to tell me about it?” This is a statement of direct concern and interest, one that’s hard to step away from.
Here’s the line I like best from the quote heading this post
“the right to speak is a call to the duty of listening. ”
As it rightly continues to tell us,
“Speech has no meaning unless there are attentive minds and silent hearts.”
We need calm listeners who will receive our words. When we speak we are in turn entering into an unwritten contract, that you will be listened and accepted and then you too must listen and accept. It is a peaceful exchange we can exercise, it facilitates thoughtful and meaningful communication and helps avoid argument.
There is no need to be laden with dilemma to make use of this wisdom. Out in the world just taking a moment to talk to a cashier, entering into conversation with a stranger at a bus stop or attending to the cries of a restless child… When we listen and gratefully receive we too can be heard. Then we have made soulful contact, even if only in a small way. It uplifts and gives meaning to our individual existences.
We can listen too by silence, embracing the contributions of others with dutiful mindfulness. We must be attentive and not just attended to.
“Silence is the welcoming acceptance of the other.”
Am prompted to share this quote because December has been challenging. Often I have been in need and have borne my troubles with hidden guilt and regret. In reaching out I’ve felt refused and have found myself sat in loneliness wondering why.
Through enforced silence I had little choice, I had to revise my stance. What beleaguered me, after a time, transformed into enlightenment. What caused me to retreat later caused me to become emboldened. Am more sensible for my solitude, it illuminated something within.
As something of a caveat I must note, it takes a wellness of mind and a determination of spirit to fortify oneself in this way. Mental illness and severe distress can create an internal chaos, in such circumstances reaching out is necessary and introspection dangerous.
Additionally we are all obliged to one another, we all should ideally come forth and listen with love when called upon and ask if we can be of service ,giving our attention as routine and standard.
For me, and many others, there isn’t always someone to talk to. Often the people you want to talk to most of all aren’t available or are tuned out and unable to attend and listen. There is always one person invariably on hand, waiting in that quiet central space, where we can all go to meet and tend to ourselves.
” It is by an attention full of love that we enable the Inner Light to blaze and illuminate our dwelling and to make of our whole being a source from which this Light may shine out. “