Cultivating Silence – Step 3

You were given two ways in the previous posts of attaining silence.  The first was understanding, and the second was looking and hearing.  There is a final one that I’d like to recommend as a help to attaining silence and that is the Scriptures.

The Scripture is par excellence, the finger pointing to the moon. So we use the words of Scripture to go beyond the words and to attain silence.  How would you do that? You take a passage from the Scripture . I’m going to give you one of my favorites John 7 you have it right here and you begin to read, “on the last day and the greatest day of the festival Jesus stood up and cried aloud, anyone who is thirsty should come to me and drink”.

Now let’s suppose as you’re reading that you’re gripped by that sentence. What do you do then? You recite that sentence in your heart and you stop the reading.

“Anyone who is thirsty should come to me and drink anyone who is thirsty should come to me and drink”.

Something like a mantra, you keep saying it again and again until your heart is satisfied, until your heart is saturated. You don’t think explicitly on the meaning of those words now, because your heart knows the meaning. And when you have come to that point of satisfaction then you react to the words.

How would you react? Well some people may react this way. They may say, “anyone do you really mean that Lord? Anyone saved, sinner, well here I come. give me the drink”. Or someone else may react by saying, “I don’t believe a word of this, what is this drink that you talked about? I have come to you so often in the past and you have given me nothing”.

That’s all right, here is someone who is frustrated, who is angry, and it’s perfectly alright to talk to the Lord like that, very good prayer because you’re honestly telling him what you have in your heart.

Yet another person might say, “I know exactly what you are talking about Lord, because I have come to you in the past and you have given me to drink, well here I come again”, so that is the way you react.

Now it is perfectly possible that a time will come when you will tire of reacting in words.

When there will be sentiments welling up in your heart that will be so deep and so rich, that no words will be able to express them and all that you will be able to do will be to stay there helplessly in silence, responding to those words and to the Lord who said those words beyond any words that you could use.

And you keep to that silence as long as you are not distracted.

When you are becoming distracted again then pick up the book and continue to read until you alight upon another sentence, and so you see here is a way of using the words of the Scripture to beyond the words into silence.  It is read, recite and react and gradually the reaction will be silenced.

There’s another way you can use the Scripture and it is this. You get into silence first. You know I suggested looking and listening.  Be aware of the sensations of your body that will bring you into silence, and when you get into this deep stillness you recall a sentence of Scripture or get someone to read a sentence of Scripture to you, and you know what will happen?

Those words of Scripture will be sort of edged in your heart they will have such a powerful meaning for you. And they will deepen your silence because they will have a meaning which is quite beyond the mind. Won’t those words that somebody reads disturb your silence? Oh no. It’s like the quiet and the peace of the evening and then you hear the temple bell or you hear the church bell ringing, and that sound deepens your silence. So that’s what’s likely to happen to you if you get into silence and then read a sentence of Scripture or recall it.  Take some of those lovely sentences that Jesus says in the New Testament. How beautiful they are, such as come follow me, or everything is possible to someone who believes. Imagine that Jesus Christ is standing right here in front of you and he address those words to you.  Don’t say anything, don’t respond. Let the words reverberate within your heart.  Let them resound within your being, and when you cannot contain it anymore then react, then give Him your response.  You know what’s likely to happen here? You are likely to get into silence long before the response.

I want to tell you a story which will bring out the whole spirituality of silence.

There was a temple built on an island about two miles away from the main land that’s where the island stood, and in that temple there were a thousand silver bells large bells, small bells, bells made by the best craftsmen in the world. And every time the wind blew or the storm raged the bells would peal out and it was said that anyone who heard those bells would be enraptured and would be taken into a deep experience of God.

Well as the centuries passed, the island sank into the sea and with the island the temple and the bells. But the tradition persisted that those bells now rang out continuously and if anyone had the gift of hearing them, that person would still be transported into God. Well a young man was inspired by this legend and he undertook a journey of hundreds of miles till he came to the spot, opposite to which it was said that the temple had stood centuries ago. He sat under a tree, a large coconut tree and he began to strain to hear the sound of those bells. But no matter what he did all he could hear was the roar of the waves as they splashed against the shore as they dashed against a nearby cliff and that irritated him because he tried his level best to push that sound out so that he would get into silence and hear the sound of those bells.

Well to no effect, he tried for a week and for four weeks and for eight weeks and it became three months. Occasionally when he became discouraged he would hear the village elders at night talk about the tradition and about the people, who had been given this grace and his heart would glow within him. But he knew that a glowing heart was no substitute for hearing those bells.

Well after, he had tried it out for six or eight months he decided to give it up. Maybe the legend wasn’t true or maybe the grace was not meant for him. He said goodbye to the people he was living with and then he went to the shore to say goodbye to that favorite coconut tree of his, and the sky and the sea. And as he sat there, He began to listen to the sound of the waves, strange. It wasn’t a jarring sound, he discovered for the first time that it was a soothing sound and it relaxed him, and he became silent and as the silence went deeper and deeper, something happened. He heard the tinkle of a little Bell and he jumped up and thought I must be producing this, I must be suggesting this to myself.

Once again, he began to listen to the sound of the sea, relaxed, and became silent, and the silence became deeper and he heard it again. The tinkle of a little bell and before he could jump up this time it was followed by another and another and another and another and soon he was hearing the glorious symphony of a thousand temple bells pealing out in unison and he was transported out of himself and was given the grace of being United with God.

The moral of the story is, if you want to hear the sound of the bells, listen to the sound of the sea.