By David Trice
Originally printed in the SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2006 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: Trice, David. "Silence is Golden." Quest 94.5 (SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2006):192-193.
And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
The noises of machines, automobiles, construction sites, aircraft engines, cell phones, radios, computers, televisions, and so on, are inescapable aspects of modern life and the outer world. But this cacophony of roaring, grating, droning, and piercing sounds takes a toll on us. It affects our personalities and our ability to access the inner planes, making it difficult for us to contact and align with the soul and the One life.
Noise pollution is an obstacle on our path. Like the illusions and desires that mislead us, it blocks us from that sacred place of silence and keeps our impressionable minds identified with what we see and hear in the outer world. How often does a song you heard, a game you played, or a visual image you have seen keep repeating itself over and over again in your mindâ€™s eye? As H. P. Blavatsky (HPB) wrote in The Voice of the Silence, "The Mind is the great Slayer of the Real."
There are very good reasons for cultivating the silence in our lives. In volume one of The Secret Doctrine, HPB eludes to the power of silence to conserve energy:
We call it the One manifested life—itself a reflection of the Absolute . . .
The latter must never be mentioned in words or speech LEST IT SHOULD TAKE AWAY SOME OF OUR SPIRITUAL ENERGIES THAT ASPIRE towards ITS state, gravitating ever onward unto IT spiritually, as the whole physical universe gravitates towards ITS manifested centre—cosmically." (290)
This truth should be one of the first that all of us learn. Initially, it is difficult to keep silent about what you learn intuitively, as well as academically. This is especially true when you are full of enthusiasm and love for Theosophy, and metaphysical things in general.
Read carefully, the admonition "lest it should take away" should convey great meaning. Not heeding this warning also diminishes the energy to fuel the inspiration and ideas you need for what you want brought to fruition. Remaining silent conserves energy. We should try to remember this simple, but profound truth when we begin speaking about our spiritual experiences.
Another reason for cultivating silence has to do with the sacredness of speech. Why is speech sacred? Remember, as distorted as the biblical passage is, maybe we are all "made in the image of God." Although, as HBP in The Secret Doctrine points out, "An Occultist would have put it otherwise. He would say that man was indeed made in the image of a type projected by his progenitor, the creating Angel-Force, or Dhyan Chohan" (II:728).
Since we are made in the image of God, speech is important because we are spiritual as well as human beings. We are told that God spoke when the heavens and earth were created. And, having been made in the pine image, we too have been given the gift of speech and to speak wisely.
In volume one of The Secret Doctrine, HPB also states that "the spoken word has a potency unknown to, unsuspected and disbelieved in, by the modern â€˜sages.â€™ Because sound and rhythm are closely related to the four Elements of the Ancients; and because such or another vibration in the air is sure to awaken corresponding powers, union with which produces good or bad results, as the case may be" (307).
The need for secrecy and silence regarding occult knowledge is an extension of the Law of Silence, as HPB observes in her Collected Writings:
The false rendering of a number of parables and sayings of Jesus is not to be wondered at in the least. From Orpheus, the first initiated Adept of whom history catches a glimpse in the mists of the pre-Christian era, down through Pythagoras, Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, Apollonius of Tyana, to Ammonius Saccas, no Teacher or Initiate has ever committed anything to writing for public use. Each and all of them have invariably recommended silence and secrecy on certain facts and deeds; from Confucius, who refused to explain publicly and satisfactorily what he meant by his "Great Extreme," or to give the key to the pination by "straws" down to Jesus, who charged his disciples to tell no man that he was Christ . . .The Apostles had to preserve silence, so that the left hand should not know what the right hand did; in plainer words, that the dangerous proficients in the Left Hand Science—the terrible enemies of the Right Hand Adepts, especially before their supreme Initiation—should not profit by the publicity so as to harm both the healer and the patient. (14:34)
Indeed, there are dangers in speaking precious truths that come from the plane of the soul. Someday, all of us will be teachers on the inner planes, and we will have to learn an entirely new kind of silence, it is called the Silence of the Ashram. Pythagoras understood this principle of silence very well as Arthur Fairbanks shows in his book The First Philosophers of Greece.Pyghagoras instituted it at his school in Crotona, as the ancient texts indicate:
And it was the custom when one became a disciple for him to burn his property and to leave his money under a seal with Pythagoras, and he remained in silence sometimes three years, sometimes five years, and studied. (Fairbanks 154)
Again, The Secret Doctrine provides some insight into the reason why Pythagoras required silence:
When our Soul [mind] creates or evokes a thought, the representative sign of that thought is self-engraved upon the astral fluid, which is the receptacle and, so to say, the mirror of all the manifestations of being.
The sign expresses the thing: the thing is the [hidden or occult] virtue of the sign.
To pronounce a word is to evoke a thought, and make it present: the magnetic potency of the human speech is the commencement of every manifestation in the Occult World. To utter a Name is not only to define a Being [an Entity], but to place it under and condemn it through the emission of the Word [Verbum] to the influence of one or more Occult potencies. Things are, for every one of us, that which it [the Word] makes them while naming them. The Word [Verbum] or the speech of every man is, quite unconsciously to himself, a BLESSING or a CURSE; this is why our present ignorance about the properties or attributes of the IDEA as well as about the attributes and properties of MATTER, is often fatal to us. (I:93)
In summary, what more can be said about silence?
The modern disciple must learn to cultivate inner silence amidst the cacophony of the outer world. We must learn to listen to the voice of the silence.
We must also learn to guard ourselves in what we speak, i.e. discipline ourselves not to speak what should be secret.
When we do speak, we should make certain that harmlessness imbues the spoken word.
David Trice is a retired satellite operations engineer, a theosophist and a member of the Theosophical Society. He resides in Chino Valley Arizona.
Blavatsky, Helena P.The Collected Writings of H.P. Blavatsky,,vol. 14. Edited by Boris de Zirkoff and Dara Eklund. Wheaton, IL: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1985.
The Secret Doctrine, vols I and II. Wheaton, IL: The Theosophical Publishing House, (Quest Edition) 1993.
The Voice of the Silence. Wheaton, IL: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1991. Fairbanks, Arthur. The First Philosophers of Greece. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1898. The Holy Bible