Here’s another installment in a series of emails that took place between Michael and one of his senior students beginning the Summer of 2009. May you find the exchange interesting and enriching.
November 17, 2010 (#47)
Student: How does practicing silence lead to being in the world as Silence? Practicing silence, it seems, is very different from Silence itself. Besides, I don’t see why practicing silence is considered better than practicing making lots of noise?
Michael: Practicing silence is neither better nor worse than practicing making noise. I, for one, like doing both. The difference is that practicing silence has a way of leading us to the source of all things, noise included.
Student: How so?
Michael: Answer me this: What’s prior to the practice of anything?
Student: Total stillness, I guess.
Michael: And what sound does total stillness make?
Student: Stillness makes no sound.
Michael: Right. So stillness is the same thing as silence. Therefore, practicing silence leads us to what is prior to any sound in the same way that practicing stillness leads us to what is prior to any movement.
Student: How does practicing silence or stillness lead to what’s prior?
Michael: Stillness practice begins to mysteriously offer us up to the world as an embodiment of what is prior, or put another way, what is the source of everything that moves. This orientation takes the rug out from under the ego very quickly since there is nothing that it can grab onto. The ego can only survive if there is movement of some kind. In fact, movement is what feeds the ego. So practicing stillness allows for this deep grace, that is once and forever beyond the constraints of the ego, to become conscious. If grace can be employed consciously it means that all of our choices can be made from open hearts and open minds. Once again, it is here that we become Silence.