A Meditation on Silence
For thousands of years, prophets, mystics, spiritual seekers, and monastics have known of the value of silence. Over this period a huge literature has explored silence and proven its value to healing, personal knowledge, and spiritual development.
Recently, I watched a short video about Silence. The video offered a justification for Silence by referring to recent studies of the health benefits to be gained from actively seeking periods of silence.
I was dismayed by this. It seems that we need scientific data to justify something that thousands of years of wisdom and practice has already confirmed.Yet, this short video made no reference to this enormously rich and rewarding wisdom literature. Instead, it justified silence with appeals to scientific data. Silence, like Yoga, are practices developed and proven centuries ago; they never needed science’s imprimatur!
If you incorporate silence into a planned, daily, programme of functional activities with the objective of some health benefit, you are in effect executing a scheduled instruction set. In principle, a robot could be programmed to execute the same instruction set.
Maybe we could pursue Silence as a way of life that would be understandable, predictable, and even trustable. But, our presence on that spiritual path, and our spiritual development over time, may be intuitively sensed but would never be graspable. Pursuing Silence as a way of life can never be reduced to the execution of an instruction set; it is beyond science and technology; it is a solely human capability.
This appeal to science debases the spiritual value of silence. It reduces silence to an input to a functional process leading to a defined health benefit at the end; rather than a life long journey, a spiritual way of life, and a door to deeper insights, and fundamental truths.That is, when we seek justification for Silence in scientific data we devalue human possibility.
A Meditation on Poetry and Philosophy
If you talk to an astronomer about the moon, all you get is some uninspiring reply about a large object slamming into the early earth.
Poets have been writing about the moon for centuries: calming our souls; exposing profound insights; illuminating the corners of the human condition; revealing human emotions; spiritual insights; moments of significance; poetic truths…
The current scientific view about our sun is that it is an average star, half way through its life. In about 4 billion years, it may expand to engulf the inner planets. Now imagine that you are located close enough to witness the earth being vaporised.
The only sensible question that you can ask then is; ‘What was the point of it all’; the same question Socrates asked in 4th Century Athens. That is, the only important question is a philosophical one; Philosophy trumps Science!
Now, while skepticism is a very useful disposition, the best approach to scientific broadcasts and breakthroughs, is to do nothing! For sure, and before long, they will likely be discredited.
Instead, permeate your days, your life, and enrich your soul with poetry and philosophy. No time spent with poetry and philosophy has ever been wasted.
And, a life that partakes in the Ambrosia of poetry and philosophy might sweeten the bitterness of that ‘final’ Socratic question.