from A Way to God for Today by Anthony De Mello

If you ever come to union with God, you must pass through silence.

What is this silence?

Let me explain it by means of a simple tale that we have in the east. There was this great king who goes to visit a spiritual master and he says to the master, “I’m a busy man could you tell me how I could be united with God but give it to me in one sentence”, and the master says to him, “I’ll give it to you in one word.”  

“What! Is that word?” says the king, and the masters says silence. 

“And how would I get silence?” says the king? 

“Meditation”, says the master. Meditation incidentally in the east the Sanskrit word “Beyond” that means not thinking about, but going beyond the thinking. So the master says “Meditation”, and the king says, “and what is meditation?” To which the master’s reply, “silence”. 

How will I find God? Silence. 

And how do I get silence? Meditation. 

And what is meditation? Silence. 

Well, I imagine while I was telling these tales that you got the Secret. Silence means going beyond words and thoughts. What’s wrong with words and thoughts? You know what’s wrong with them? Words are very wonderful, but God is nothing like what we say He is and He is nothing like what we imagine or think He is. That is what is wrong with words and thoughts. And most people will not accept this, they cling to their images of God, and that is the biggest obstacle to they getting to silence. 

Would you like to experience this silence that I’m talking about? Well, you have to do three things, which I’m going to recommend in this program. 

The first is understanding. 

Understanding what? 

Understanding that God isn’t anything like the idea that you have of God. You know in the country I come from, India we’ve got plenty of roses, but let’s suppose that I had never smelt a rose in my life and I say it to you what is the smell the fragrance of a rose, could you describe that? Go on describe it. 

You see? If you cannot describe a simple thing like the fragrance of the rose how could anybody describe the experience of God. Whatever words he uses, they’re quiet inadequate, God is totally beyond that. 

So now, you have it. That’s what is wrong with the words, there is this great mystic who wrote the Cloud of Unknowing. The book asks, do you want to know God? There’s only one way knowing Him, the book states. You know Him through none knowing. You have to get out of your mind and your thinking, then you may grasp Him with the heart. Saint Thomas Aquinas that great Christian theologian says, “about God only this can be said with certainty that we do not know what He is”.