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Crickets chirping in the dark. The afternoon wind gently blowing through the palms. The steady breath of the sea rolling in and out. Just back from my annual retreat at Haramara in Sayulita, Mexico and I've never been more aware of the subtle drone of silence.
There is no absolute silence only relative quiet, as anyone who has been in an isolation tank can tell you. But as things become increasingly quiet, we begin to perceive the organic drone of the sonic ground and our self in relationship to it. The harsher the drone — e.g., the screaming of an air raid siren — the more limited our self awareness seems to be. By contrast, as the drone of silence becomes more quiet we find ourselves capable of more subtle awareness.
We may notice something has been bothering us, recognize a fond memory, hear the sound of our own conscience.
With silence becoming increasingly hard to find in today's world, its passionate pursuit is showing up more and more in popular culture. in this year's world wide celebration of composer John Cage's 100th Anniversary, it was his groundbreaking composition 4'33" (four minutes and thirty three seconds of silence) that sat at the head of the table. BAM/PFA produced an exhaustive tribute to Cage entitled "Silence" which included an exhibition of visual art, film showings and lectures inspired by his most famous piece.
I would go a step further. While in Mexico I was struck by the notion that the pursuit of silence is actually the search for Self. It is in relationship to the delicacy of quiet that we become aware of our most subtle qualities and experiences. Moments in which we become reminded of our humanity, the humanity of others, and the ground of vibration that supports us all.
What do you think is so great about silence?
Where do you find silence in your life?