Thursday, October 28, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, October 19, 2010

True silence is the rest of the mind,
and is to the spirit what sleep is to
the body: nourishment and refreshment.

William Penn, founder of the state of
Pennsylvania; on this date, 1682, he
landed near what is now Chester.

What you can do: 

You can criticize silence,

You can ignore silence. 

What you cannot do: 

You cannot sit even one fleeting minute 

In silence. 

Yet one day 

It is you and you alone 

Who will marry silence 

And become inseparably one 

With silence-sky.

- Sri Chinmoy

The word “silence” comes from the Latin “silere”, to be silent, through Old French. It apparently replaced, after the Norman Conquest, the Old English word “swige”. One Old English poem begins, “Nis min sele swige” – “My soul is not silent”. I’m telling you this because of course you will want to know it, right?

If you work with it long enough, you will get to the important part: the word also means “still”. And that is what I think Sri Chinmoy’s poem points us to.

Stillness. Penn was a Quaker; they value silence and stillness.

Why? Here is what T. S. Eliot says: [ from “East Coker”, from the Four Quartets; the whole passage is found at ]

We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise.
In my end is my beginning.

There is a portal to “another intensity”, a “fuller union, a deeper communion”.

Would it not be good and life-giving to touch it?