gatineau morning.

gatineau morning.
photo by douglas mcarthur.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Excerpts from my book: Unprotected Sects.

Silence 1.

In her book, 'How To Be Alone,' Scottish author, Sarah Maitland, writes: "I got fascinated by silence, by what happens to the human spirit, to identity and personality when the talking stops, when you press the off button, when you venture out into that enormous emptiness. I was interested in silence as a lost cultural phenomenon, as a thing of beauty and as a space that had been explored and used over and over again by different individuals, for different reasons and with wildly differing results. I began to use my own life as a sort of laboratory to test some ideas and to find out what it felt like. Almost to my surprise, I found I loved silence. It suited me. I got greedy for more."

"We have arrived," Maitland continues, "in the relatively prosperous developed world, at a cultural moment which values autonomy, personal freedom, fulfillment and human rights, and above all individualism, more highly than they have ever been valued before in human history. At the same time these autonomous, free, self-fulfilling individuals are terrified of being alone."

In his book, 'The Notebook,' acclaimed novelist, screenwriter and producer, Nicholas Sparks, wrote: “We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn. It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox."

Baba Hari Das is an Indian monk who has not spoken since 1952 and has lived in the west since 1970. Known simply as Babaji, he founded the Mount Madonna Center in Santa Cruz, California. He writes on a small black-board hanging around his neck. In his book, 'Silence Speaks,' it is recorded that, when asked what his greatest pleasure is, Babaji wrote: 'silence.' I did have the pleasure of being with Babaji several times in the '70s and will always remember the waves of 'saktipad,' peace, that rolled over me virtually every time we sat together.

Nelson Mandela was once quoted as saying: "It is never my custom to use words lightly. If twenty-seven years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die."

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