It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. The more solitary I am the more affection I have for them…. Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say.
Anyone can meditate in a silent place. Where it is calm, restful and relaxing, often people seek meditation. This is however a falsehood. Like taking a special place outside the world, when really outside the world is still the world. In Gnosticism we embrace this idea wholly. Often many seek to “escape” or remove themselves from the world. No matter where you turn to you are in the world. This is a Gnostic truth.
Many see Gnosticism as a spiritual “escape hood”. The same could largely be said for Buddhism. However as opposed to escaping the world, Gnosticism in its “escape” actually embraces. For example in some forms of Gnosticism there are 7 false “heavens” run by “evil” forces called Archons. Archons can be thought of in many ways. One simple way is the inner forces in a person that holds us back; anger, greed, sloth, envy, lust… These “forces” are seen in Gnosticism to hold the individual and the universe “down” or “keep everyone asleep.” This battle or inner struggle is often seen as the greatest battle a seeker must face.
Often we are tempted to speak up, for others, for ourselves, our voices need to be heard:
“First they came for the Jews. I was silent. I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists. I was silent. I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists. I was silent. I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me. There was no one left to speak for me.”
— Martin Niemöller
Speaking up is often thought to be the best way to approach life. It is for a seeker just the reverse. The more we speak, the less we say. In Gnosticism we know that the more silent we are, the closer to the “mark” we are. This silence is beyond simply speaking or not speaking, it is a silence of transcendence, when two become one and they reach beyond the sum of their parts. Thus this silence as Merton mentions is a special one…Often this is mentioned in spiritual texts as having “left” or “escaped” the world. If we penetrate below the surface though we find it is not escaping at all, it is embracing the world at a heightened state.
So where as often people seek calm and silence to meditate , true silence is not found in silence at all; as I hope I have explained, this is a false silence, one that really does not exist, as there is no escaping the world. Thus to truly find silence, one seeks noise. When one can find silence in a cacophony, in an argument, in a turmoil, in LIFE!, then one is truly on the road. Thus a seeker seeks no the easy road of calmness, but seeks the hurricane, and seeks to be calm within the eye of the storm, knowing the loudest sounds are also the quietest. Just some thoughts…
The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.
–Rachel Naomi Remen