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which we experience and enjoy
as we embrace our fantastic journey,
On our way to attaining our true identity as a heavenly being we move through four stages of spiritual practice with SILENCE the first practice of stage two, the journey of the Heart. I borrowed these four stages from Elizabeth Lesser. She calls them landscapes. She offers many ideas and practices in her wonderful book, The Seeker's Guide: Making Your Life a Spiritual Adventure.
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+ Not that there's anything wrong with noise!
Being silent simply gives us a point to become aware of the noise, the voices, the music.
We live in a noisy, over-stimulating society. Learning how to be silent and enjoy silence is another important discipline for people who really want to experience heaven. It's not that noise is bad. It has its place. But we have a much better chance of connecting with God in silence. It seems to me that there are two movements affecting the church and society today: the joyful noise movement and the joyful silence movement. I have nothing against the joyful noise movement. Indeed I am a great fan of rock'n'roll. I simply want to lend my support to the joyful silence movement which seems to be a weaker movement and, therefore, needs all the help it can get. Hopefully, here's help!
A basic and I think obvious reason for developing the discipline of silence is that we can�t possibly hear God speak to us if we are drowning God out. It�s fine to sing praise songs, for example, but getting the inspiration to write a heavenly song of praise requires silent time and probably a large amount of silent time. Any creative venture requires silent time when we allow our minds to rest in the divine mystery from which all creation comes.
When we are not silent, we are held back from a more complete revelation of God�s will for us. We keep using familiar and limiting names for the One who remains forever nameless and beyond our knowing. We keep using familiar and limiting words for the One who remains forever wordless and beyond our knowing. St. John of the Cross wrote: �The Father uttered one Word; that Word is His Son, and he utters Him for ever in everlasting silence; and in silence the soul hears it.� Lao Tzu said: He who knows does not speak; He who speaks does not know.� Fenelon wrote: �You cannot practice too rigid a fast from the charms of worldly talk.�
One of the most persistent noises of modern society which we need to resist is advertising. This was already a big problem in the 1940s when Aldous Huxley wrote THE PERENNIAL PHILOSOPHY. He wrote the following in his chapter on silence: �Advertising is the organized effort to extend and intensify craving � to extend and intensify, that is to say, the workings of that force, which (as all the saints and teachers of all the higher religions have always taught) is the principal cause of suffering and wrong-doing and the greatest obstacle between the human soul and its divine Ground.�
When I am silent, I am awake, aware and connected.
I will write more but I intend to write with more wisdom gained through conversation with you and others. We are in this together. Love is the way. God is love.
+ NEW December 10, 2014: Early in 2013, I wrote the following chapter on the practice of silence as part of a book on all twelve spiritual practices and all 9 heavenly attributes. I sense that some of the writing is sent by the heavenly council which is a mysterious presence in my life. I believe the heavenly council is available to all of us. I have found a way to listen. The council often likes to say with one voice, "I AM." Maybe you can discern when this voice is speaking as opposed to my voice or other voices. I invite you to participate in this conversation with God, with heavenly beings, with human beings and other creatures too. Please join in. Add your own thoughts. Ask questions. Ponder. Contemplate. Seek truth. Here we go:
+ The practice of silence is the gateway to stage 2 and its heavenly goal of healing. Silence makes discernment possible. Healing comes through discernment. This can only happen as we continue to practice and perfect Stage 1 stillness, detachment and humility.
It is not easy to practice silence these days. Most of us live in noisy environments. Too much noise of all kinds blocks discernment and healing. So let�s see if we can reduce the noise, be silent and be healed. If we can do that we can experience heavenly moments, blissful moments, delightful moments throughout the day.
Miracles happen during moments of silence and as a result of moments of silence.
When you are silent you listen. Your listen more and more to your inner guide and to all kinds of external sources of information, many previously ignored.
Listen to the chatter going on inside your head. Just listen for a while. Isn�t it amazing how it just goes on and on and on? You can�t stop it but you can slow it down. You can create significant pauses in the chatter and let your Inner Guide, your true self, begin to emerge and have its say. This can only happen when there is a lot of silence.
You want this silence because you want to be healed, you want to be whole, healthy, happy, satisfied. You want to find meaning, purpose, a sense of harmony, a sense that you are accomplishing something important, vital, amazing, miraculous, marvelous. Let more silence into your life and you will discern what it is that makes you amazing, wonderful, fantastic. I like to call it Joyful Silence. Many are finding ways to let more silence into their lives. It�s a movement, the Joyful Silence movement. Oh, how our planet needs this relief, this music, yes music even though there is no noise involved, no notes, no words, or only a few words.
You can bring this silence with you into the noisy world. You can pay attention to the world in new ways as you practice being silent. Practice it in as many situations as possible. Try to tune out as many distractions as possible including your own noise. Be quiet. Be aware. Don�t speak. Listen. Pay attention. Let inner silence and outer silence have significant time and space in your life. Something wonderful is happening. Something fascinating is happening. Something amazing is happening. In this joyful silence, you are becoming you and you are helping others become their true selves. Silence speaks volumes. Enjoy. Be glad all over.
This might be a good time to discuss opposites, or polarities. While there are so many benefits from the practice of silence, we must remember that noise is also wonderful, beneficial, indeed essential. �Make a joyful noise� says the scripture. Let there be joyful noise. Let there be joyful silence. Let there be joyful noise and silence together, beyond the opposites, beyond the polarity. I think we are talking about music now and what an inspiration music is.
The gift of silence is not necessarily opposed to the gift of music. They can go together. You can establish a practice of silence where you are silent while listening to inspirational music.
More and more it is necessary to move from one practice to another even as we put our focus on one particular practice. Where does this wonderful silence lead you? Which practice connects closely to this practice?
You may be led back to stage one practices which are always essential. Or you may be led forward even beyond stage 2. What�s calling you now?
Let�s call all of the practices joyful. Joyful stillness. Joyful detachment. Joyful humility. Joyfulll silence. Joyful discernment. Joyful healing. Joyful solitude. Joyful devotion. Joyful holiness. Joyful simplicity. Joyful delight. Joyful heavenliness. Joy. Joy. Joy. Celebrate. Enjoy. Be glad all over.
All of these practices are heavenly practices. We realize our heavenly identity, our true identity in all of these practices. Something wonderful is happening.
Enjoy every breath, every movement, every moment of life�s abundance. There is an abundance of everything you need � and then some. As we practice, practice, practice we become more and more aware of just how amazingly abundant the creation is. Spectacular. Fascinating. Fantastic. Wonderful. Wow.
In this joyful silence, simply marvel at it all. Be amazed. Be surprised. Be delighted. Dance. Glow. Flow. Wow.
Every moment is precious. In this joyful silence we realize how precious it is and we become so thankful. We develop an attitude of gratitude. We smile. We laugh. We sing. We dance. The joyful silence of heaven is simply another way of life than we ordinarily encounter when we are not paying attention to all of the rhythms and melodies and harmonies which always surround us and dwell so joyfully within us.
There is nothing wrong with making a joyful noise now if that�s what you want to do. Remember that there is nothing wrong with the other ends of the continuums we are dealing with here. Joyful silence. Good. Joyful noise. Good. Joyful stillness. Good. Joyful movement. Good.
OK, it gets a little more tricky with some of the continuums but let�s not let that get in the way of our progress now. Just enjoy every moment, even moments when life seems anything but heavenly or holy, even when you are agitated, arrogant, seduced by worldly pleasures and all of the many detours and dead ends we usually cannot escape even on a daily basis.
When you worry, worry joyfully. When you are angry, be angry joyfully. Even be sad joyfully, scared joyfully. Let no moment go by without being joyful. Be aware of the joyful silence of heaven in every situation. Be aware of how temporary every situation is. "This too will Pass" said the Preacher.
Let�s move on to the next practice remembering how they all flow together and how important each one is, how essential each one is. Not much progress can be made without many moments of joyful silence in your life.
Practice, Practice, Practice this essential practice.
The Orthodox Church of America offers "On Silence and Stillness" by the Very Rev. John Breck and "Witnesses to Silence and Stillness" by the Very Rev. John Breck and "The Gift of Silence" by the Very Rev. John Breck and "On Silence and Solitude" by the Very Rev. John Breck.