Silence, the Sister of the Divine
- By John O'Donohue
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from Anam Cara: Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World
Silence is the sister of the divine. Meister Eckhart said that there is nothing in the world that resembles God so much as silence. Silence is a great friend of the soul; it unveils the riches of solitude. It is very difficult to reach that quality of inner silence. You must make a space for it so that it may begin to work for you. In a certain sense, you do not need the whole armoury and vocabulary of therapies, psychologies, or spiritual programmes. If you have a trust in and an expectation of your own solitude, everything that you need to know will be revealed to you. These are some wonderful lines from the French poet, Rene Char: 'Intensity is silent, its image is not. I love everything that dazzles me and then accentuates the darkness within me.' Here is an image of silence as the force that discloses hidden depth.
One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences. Often secrets are not revealed in words, they lie concealed in the silence between the words or in the depth of what is unsayable between two people. In modern life there is an immense rush to express. Sometimes the quality of what is expressed is superficial and immensely repetitive. A greater tolerance of silence is desirable, that fecund silence which is the source of our most resonant language. The depth and substance of a friendship mirrors itself in the quality and shelter of the silence between two people.
As you begin to befriend your inner silence, one of the first things you will notice is the superficial chatter on the surface level of your mind. Once you recognize this, the silence deepens. a distinction begins to emerge between the images that you have of your self and your own deeper nature. Sometimes much of the conflict in our spirituality has nothing to do with our deeper nature but rather with the false surface constructs we build. We then get caught in working out a grammar and geometry of how these surface images and positions relate to each other; meanwhile our deeper nature remains unattended.