Preparing for Silence

By BK Mohini Panjabi

(Sister Mohini Panjabi shared these ideas at a Call-of-the-Time Dialogue in Uruguay in 2001 as dialogue participants prepared for a day of silence).

One of the true gifts in a busy life is an extended period of silence, a time when we intentionally turn our attention away from the rush of conversations and commitments, images and messages, and lists and obligations, and quietly attune ourselves to an inner space.

  • For some of us, imposed silence has been a punishment in our past; for example, a parent may have admonished, “Close your mouth and go to your room.”  The silence we are entering here is a choice.  This silence is a chance for discovery, to find out new and different things.  The absence of talk is quite different when we are choosing not to speak.
  • Silence is not a lack of communication.  There is a subtle language that connects us to one another through the eyes, with a smile, or a gesture.  Fluency in this subtle language calls for our ability to observe the small details of life.  As we develop our facility with this subtle language, we find that we are less dependent on the mechanical devices that can connect us but that can also make us feel more separate.
  • In moving into an inner space of silence, we are attuning ourselves to the spirit of nature and letting go of the tendency to be critical.
  • Silence provides the opportunity for me to identify the qualities in myself that have the capacity to transform me.  In silence I can connect to the highest quality of my lightest, clearest thinking.
  • Action emerges from the seeds of thought.  Actions are the fruits of these seeds.  What is the soil in which I choose to plant the seeds of my thoughts?  Violence or peace?  Anger or love?  These choices are transformative.
  •  The state of awareness I attain in silence connects directly to the quality of my understanding.  Understanding “in sound” is a cognitive process, while understanding “in silence” is more subtle, resulting in realizations that emerge from within.  These are very different experiences.
  • In silence I discover my innate qualities, the qualities that are intrinsic to who I am.  Here in silence I touch my eternal self, and I come to trust this deepest essence.
  • The experience of recognizing my intrinsic and unique qualities increases my own power to receive.  In silence I touch my inner strength and experience trust, faith, safety, beauty, worthiness.  It is from this base of inner strength that my actions evolve.
  • In silence I can listen to the call of God, the call of nature, the call of others in need.
  • Silence is an inner space of learning.  When I do not understand something, I continue to hold on to it.  When learning has occurred, I can release it and move on.
  • In silence I discover truth by getting in touch with the true self.  Silence increases my capacity to hold the truth within.
  • Silence is an opportunity to rest in the lap of my own greatness.  Remember to care for yourself with the special attention you would accord any great soul.
  • Silence is a discipline, not of doing, but of being.

Use these thoughts about silence as a tray of hors d’oeuvres, picking what you want to support you as you transition into a silent inner space.