Saturday, July 17, 2010

On Silence and Quiet

I've a piece in today's Sydney Morning Herald, 'Quiet now, your soul is healing'. (Not my title.)

It's a reminder of the value of silence and quiet. A sample:
quiet has existential value: being alone with ourselves. We often use noise to take our minds off our minds. But in the quiet, all of our anxieties and longings return. In the long run, it's healthy to heed conscience's nagging voice. Silence encourages analysis, reflection, speculation. In short, a more mindful life.
(Photo: surreykarate.co.uk)

7 comments:

Gordon said...

"analysis, reflection, speculation" surely these qualify as mental noise from the vantage of inner-enlightenment teachings (since they are "in-FORM-mation machines")

Silentium est aureum and all that, but only if we follow the example of the alchemist whose search is for gold "that is not the common gold. We should not forget the silence that is not the common silence.

Of course, also, I agree with what you say.

Peter Fyfe said...

Nice! But I'm pestered by the thought of John Cage and his remarkable work on demonstrating how noisy even 4'33 of silence is and how musical and enthralling even the most mundane of noise can be if we but listen for it?

PIcking up on Gordon's comment, I wonder if there's not a touch of the search for uncommon silence in what Cage played with... showing us the need to engage with "the work" to find it, even among the noise of a mundane world that is never silent?

Rachel Fenton said...

CAn you recommend me some further reading on this topic, Damon (please)?

Damon Young said...

G: To my mind, a good life requires some reflection, analysis and speculation - if only to think through what's best for us (let alone ethical questions). But I agree that we must also quieten our minds completely now and then.

PF: I agree on Cage - he makes us more aware of silence's character; to seek its quality.

RF: Hard to know what interests you, Rachel. There's the standard science of silence (e.g. the research I quote in the article). But there's also the spirituality of silence, e.g. Meister Eckhart and MIguel de Molinos.

Rachel Fenton said...

I'm always going to take something apart - and undoubtedly dislike it, before I allow myself to appreciate its workings and develop respect for it, so I'll start with the science and move on to the spiritual later. Thank you.

Damon Young said...

Send me an email, Rachel, and I'll send on the citations.

Mohamed Mughal said...

And at least from my experience, quiet is a precursor to creation.