An Eloquent Silence

Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. [Matthew 15:17-20].

Communion with God
Faith knows no silence, for humanity lives by communicating with its Creator and declaring His praise. Our cries to God for mercy and forgiveness are our only source of true tranquility. Our exhortation to belief provides a bridge for those astray seeking to return. To be in communion with God is truly a remarkable accomplishment.

Evil Words
By contrast, peace in the physical world requires silence. At the root of much of our unhappiness lie misspoken words. Evil words fuel hate and kindle dissension.

Evil talk, even just hearing it, is the beginning of all hatred among people and wars among the nations. I want you to know, every time one person yells at another person, you bring war into the world. And each time a person says words of love to another human being, he brings peace into the world [Rabbi Shlomo].

Words are more damaging to our spiritual ecology than all the chemicals and pollutants sprayed into and dumped over our physical environment. Words formed from twisted reasoning and impetuous thoughts slide from our lips to litter, stain and discomfort our consciousness and the consciousness of those around us.

A young man confessed to the Rabbi that he had been spreading around malicious gossip about the Rabbi and asked how could he correct this and what could he do to make it up to him? The Rabbi paused for a moment, then he said, “First thing you can do is go and find a feather pillow”.

The young man said, that is easy, I can do that with no problem at all. He went back to the Rabi and said that he had done this.

Next the Rabbi said, “Now go to the top of a hill and cast all of the feathers out onto the wind”. And so he said that sounded rather easy, he could do that also.

When he reported to the Rabbi that he had done this, the Rabi said “There is one thing left to do and, you are finished”. The young man thinking that this was such an easy wrong to correct, asked what it was. The Rabbi said, “Now bring me all of the feathers”.

Inner Silence
Fasting slows our metabolism and the slower, calmer state facilitates meditation and contemplation. However, for some, abstinence from speaking for a short time may be more beneficial than a year of fasting from food.

Words stand between silence and silence: between the silence of things and the silence of our own being, between the silence of the world and the silence of God. When we have really met and known the world in silence, words do not separate us from the world nor from other men, nor from God, nor from ourselves because we no longer trust entirely in language to contain reality.” [Thomas Merton].

To silence the lips is good; to silence our thoughts is better.

The spiritually still mind rests on a pillow of divine thoughts. Immersed in stillness, the quiet soul no longer hears the clatter of screeching senses. Illusory needs cease their incessant clanging.

Released from transitory burdens, disengaged from ephemeral phenomena and freed from imagined fears, the silent mind now hears the whispers of transcendent thoughts.

Silence is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it. There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge, and stability that come from knowing how to contact your core of inner silence. The great Sufi poet Rumi wrote, ”Only let the moving waters calm down, and the sun and moon will be reflected on the surface of your being [Deepak Chopra].

Inner silence amplifies a Divine voice calling to spiritual awareness. The dissonance of restless thoughts becomes the harmony of mystical understanding. May the praise of God ever be on our lips and may our tongue find eloquence only in glorifying our Lord.

Silence . . . is the key to every rest in this world and the next: it brings God’s pleasure, a lightening of the reckoning and a protection from errors and mistakes. God has made it a veil for the ignorant and an adornment for the man of knowledge. . .Through silence, passions can be set aside, and with it come self-discipline, the sweetness of worship, removal of hardheartedness, abstinence, virtuousness and resourcefulness.

Therefore lock your tongue to speech which is not absolutely necessary, especially when you do not find anyone worth talking to – except, that is, when you are talking specifically about matters to do with God [Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq, The Lantern of the Path]


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