Silence is the foundation of a contemplative life. Jonathan Prescott explores outer silence, inner silence, and their roles in deepening our engagement with the world.
May you open the gift of solitude
In order to receive your soul;
Enter the generosity of silence
To hear your hidden heart;
Know the serenity of stillness
To be enfolded anew
By the miracle of your being.
-- John O'Donohue
John O'Donohue invites us to enter the generosity of silence so we can hear our hidden hearts. Silence is not an end, he suggests; it is a means. Even though silence is a foundation of contemplative life, if it's used as an end it can trap us into believing that we can only be happy when the world is silent.
Why do we cultivate silence? Here are three reasons you might consider:
Silence quiets our own shouting so we can hear the world’s whispers.
Silence quiets our passions so we can awake to the suffering of others.
Silence quiets our individualism so we can find our right place among all.
We cultivate silence by calming ourselves. We calm ourselves by living and behaving simply so that we don't complicate or disturb our environment. As we do this, inner silence arises and strengthens until we see that inner silence isn't dependent upon outer silence.
Listen to the entire Dharma Talk on our Podcast.