Silence

There are worse things than Silence” – Padmé Amidala

 

The Silent Cure

In silence there is peace and serenity. To be silent is to be like a still calm lake. Nothing disturbs us on the surface of things or within. Imagine being alone on that lake. The sun is shining. The only disturbance being the slight rock as you shift your weight. The hum of a passing dragon fly. That is what silence sounds like.

We also feel silence. By being silent we connect with something deep within ourselves. The watcher within emerges as the mind clears of thoughts and we become present in the moment. As our breath rises and falls we feel ourselves in tune with nature, the pulse of life. We are part of the cosmos on a tiny boat.

Silence is a true friend who never betrays.” – Confucius

 

The Inner Silence

The world is full of noise. To escape the hum of civilization one must either seek solitude far from home or withdraw within themselves.

Seneca once said that we could escape to a mountain retreat or a secluded place on the coast. Unless silence is within us, we bring our mental noise with us. One can be on Mars in a lifeless wilderness and still not be in silence. Silence is within, it is not just to hold one’s tongue but to silence the mind and heart as well.

If our emotions are in turmoil, so is our mind and we feel forced to speak. Often it is in silence that we find the inner peace we seek. In silence we find the right things to do and say.

 

Speak softly

How often had we said a thing and wished we had held our tongue instead. Once words ill spoken leave our mouth they are beyond recall. Thoughts and feelings too can betray us as we yield to turbulent emotions.

To be Jedi is to know when to speak and when to hold silence. Emotions can be tempered, we can choose when to speak and what to say. While anger, fear, exuberance, impatience and annoyance may rise and fall within us whether we choose to energize those emotions is up to us. We decide how play out those emotions. You can keep calm and silent when angered or resort to harsh words and rash action.

“Silence is a lesson learned from the many sufferings of life” – Seneca

Silence is Golden

Jedi know the value of inner and outer silence. In recovery too we learn that silence is golden. We meditate to restore our balance and recharge ourselves. When others speak we listen in silence and without judgement. We also speak with clarity and purpose and express our thoughts calmly. Like Jedi we can guard our words but we do not ignore our convictions. Sometimes more is said with less.

Speech is silver and silence is golden. – Thomas Carlyle

Once upon a time I feared silence. Even as I sought to isolate I needed noise around me. If there was none my mind was agog with rampant activity. I could be alone but with enough alcohol there was a noisy party going on inside my head. Around people I spoke without thought or care. My words betrayed jumbled thoughts, anger, fear and hate. The more I spoke the worse I made things.

The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish” – Robert Greene

In conversation I barely heard the other person. I would cut in and talk over people. Ignore their point of view and use words to shore up my position. I betrayed my immaturity and inexperience. I would blow opportunities, put people off side and build obstacles for myself. As I dug a deeper hole I became resentful and found respite in isolation.

 

Return to Silence

These days I seek silence often. Finding turmoil and noise within me I settle it down. When I want to say something, I ask myself like Cato did in the Roman Senate “Is this better left unsaid”? Will silence serve me better than to speak my turn? If not speak mindfully and with confidence. To be silent could be a disservice. Sometimes speaking up is a duty.

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” – Martin Luther King

Today we are driven to be heard. There is a perception that to be silent is to not exist. Social Media demands our attention and we want to be heard. We join the din of the forum. Everyone is yelling but no one is listening.

Our ancestors lived in silence compared to us. Life was closer to nature and simpler. Words had more value. The ancients would find our world confusing, frightening and distracting. The natural state is to reside in tranquility. Our hearts yearn peace. There we find truth.

“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Find Silence amidst the Storm

Imagine a still lake in the mountains if you will or a calm sea at sunrise. There is barely a ripple on the face of the water. You can hear your own breathing. A soft breeze touches your face. The silence encompasses all for an eternal moment. The light of sunrise falls on distant hills. Even the birds are subdued in the peace and serenity of the morning.

Close your eyes. Look into your mind and listen intently. Let the voices and echoes fade in to silence. Passing like clouds in the wind. Peer in to your core where the seat of emotions resides. Feel what is there. Let any tension in your body and residual emotions relax and release. Let go of any pain and fear. Relax in to the silence. Hold the moment.

You are one with the cosmos and one with all creation. You are a child of the Force.

Conflict

“In peace are we warriors or keepers of the peace”? – Ahsako Tano

The Jedi are essentially depicted in the fiction as warriors. In a sense they are a version of the warrior-monk tradition of the East and West but without the religious fervor, cloistered monasteries and secret ceremonies and rituals. Conflict is still a part of the Jedi.

War is very much part of the Jedi mythos and while the Jedi had strong views around resorting to violence and the taking of life, they were not immune from fighting and killing if duty required it. Unlike some “warrior-monks” or religious fanatics in history, the Jedi did not relish violence and in fact they abhorred it and the act of killing. Never the less, Jedi trained to go to war, they kept themselves physically fit and mentally ready and trained in combat skills. Emotions and personal biases were set aside when duty called and mission success was paramount.

As a former “Grunt”  (Infantryman) I can understand the need for following orders, for self-discipline, training and physical fitness. I am well familiar with the vital importance of “operational readiness” and “mission focus”. The Jedi were a pseudo military order and were integrated within the Republic Forces as senior ranks, making strategic decisions while advancing to the front to lead their troops in to battle. Jedi did not hide in the rear, they led the assaults on enemy positions or undertook secret and daring missions in to the heart of enemy territory often at great personal risk. They did not rush in “Light Saber” happy, they simply used their weapons to carry out their tasks without hatred, fear or lust.

During an episode of Season 2 of “The Clone Wars”, Ahsako Tano reflects that after so much combat she feels ill at ease in peace and cannot sit still. As a veteran I can appreciate this; many friends of mine who have gone to war and seen combat never really settled down afterwards. A part of them still craves the adrenaline, the camaraderie and the momentary feeling of being “completely alive in the moment”, something that only comes during the intensity of combat.

A part of all of us wants to go back and do it again even though we know that when we were “over there” most of us wanted nothing more than to be back home. Ahsako -Tano asks “In peace are we warriors or keepers of the peace”? This is a compelling question as it is one that every veteran asks when they return to civilian life from an operational environment. Some never really find the peace they deserve as war takes a part of you that you never get back. In life Veterans and survivors of trauma may appear reasonably successful and normal and fully integrated into society however war and tragedy marks every person that experiences it and in some way it never leaves you.

Our Inner Conflict

Fortunately most people will not have to experience war, however within each of us resides an internal conflict; we are at war with ourselves. Our wants and desires often conflict with where we want to go and at times we are torn between one thing and another.

We feel it is our duty to be a certain type of person or act in a certain way but within ourselves we know that it conflicts with who we truly are. As a result many of us live in imbalance. Being an alcoholic I struggled with an inner conflict for decades and finally came out the winner as I realized what I needed to do to recover from my addiction.

I have discovered a sense of peace in my life but I know that the shadow of addiction is always there and that I must remain vigilante, honest and humble if I am to stay sober. I never drop my guard or grow conceited in my sobriety and when I feel myself sliding backwards I double my efforts and apply my principles. Seeking balance, I have stopped fighting people, places and things, shifting the focus inward.

How do you deal with your own conflicts both inner and outer? Remember that the world that we perceive is largely of our own making. Often where we think conflict exists in our world there is only inner turmoil at play. The important question is how do you deal with peace? How do you keep the peace as a warrior and rise over the urge to find and engage in conflict? The choice of how you do so is entirely up to you. You can also practice the Jedi Code and be objective, remain calm, be present in the moment. Adjust your expectations and your perspective.