The Silence Between the Words

All you need to do is watch nature and you will know that all creatures in the universe communicate with each other. Even one-cell organisms communicate. What is significant is that the way in which they communicate varies from species to species. Because of the vast array of communication modalities, the limits in our instruments to detect all the various forms of communication, and our egocentric thinking prevents us from seeing, hearing or experiencing what they are saying. But, to assume, that simply because man does not understand or detect what is being communicated, does not argue for the absence of communication, but is simply an example of the limitations of rational man. To believe that everything in nature does not communicate is not only absurd, but extremely egoistic. It is just as egoistic to assume that only carbon-based entities are sentient beings. Remember, the types, methods and receptors of communication vary for each species, even those that are not carbon based. The earth itself is constantly communicating with existence. In fact, existence itself is always communicating with existence.

Man in general does not hear what existence is saying, what he is saying to others, what others are saying to him, or for that matter and even more sadly, what he is saying to himself. Yes, people listen to the words that are spoken, but are they hearing what is being said? Your friend is telling you about her exciting vacation. But, before she is even finished with her story, you are thinking of your own vacation that you want to relate to her, developing questions to ask about her vacation, or even drifting off to some other topic. Were you really listening to her? Were you empathizing with her feelings? Were you allowing yourself to vicariously experience her vacation? Were you allowing yourself to understand where she was coming from? Think about it for a moment, were you even remotely interested in her story?

There is a vast difference between hearing and listening. Listening to what is being said is easy. Hearing what is being said requires your actually paying attention to what is being said. Hearing requires you to not interpret, judge or contemplate what is being said. Instead, you are open, both intellectually and emotionally, to what is being communicated. This means doing more than simply hearing the words being spoken. It means hearing the silences, the pauses, the inflections and the body language.

A friend of mine once said, “If you agree with what I am saying, then it is not that you agree with me, but that I agree with your theories. Conversely, if you disagree with what I am saying, then it is not that you disagree with me, but that I disagree with your theories.” In both situations, you only listened to what he was saying. You were not hearing him at all. When you hear, there is no issue of agreeing or disagreeing. There is simply hearing. This means that the real secret to communicating is to not agree or disagree. It is to hear what is being said, without any type of judgment, interpretation or preconceived ideas. Once you begin to insert your ideas into the picture, you are no longer hearing, but interpreting what is being said. Real communication requires no interpretation. When you hear nature's communications, you need no language. There will be no barriers. You simply hear and then know.

One of my most influential teachers was my mother. One day, she was telling me about her problems, her feelings and her perceptions of her life. Almost immediately, I began offering advice. I began suggesting ways she could view her world that would result in less negativity. I began playing the therapist's role.

After a few minutes of my therapy, she stopped me cold. She said, "Barry, I do not want your advice or help. I didn’t ask for any of your garbage. All I want is for you to listen to me. Listen to what I am saying and feeling!" What a slap in the face that was. All I could say was, "Thank you Ma." For the first time in a long, long time, I began to actually hear what she was saying and what she was not saying. The words were not important. What she was not saying was much more important. I was able to join her. I was able to be with her. I was able to experience what she was experiencing. I thank God that she gave the opportunity to hear the unspoken and not just listen to the words. Once again, thank you, Ma.

Too often, we listen to the words, but we do not hear what is being said. If one simply stops the mind for a few seconds, and lets the communication occur, the hearing happens. In fact, when the mind stops working so hard, even the message that existence is sending will be heard. The music, the meaning, the flow can finally be heard. No thinking is necessary. The meaning will come in as clear as a bell.

Communication is not just about words! Communication is not just about the transmission of ideas! Communication is the flowing of existence. It is existence itself. Yes, words are important when conveying ideas and thoughts, but the real message goes far beyond the words. Words create quite a handicap. What is truly important is the silence that is found between the words and between the thoughts. It is the Isness of this moment!

The next time you are with someone, stop all conversation. Sit down, hold hands, look the other person in the eyes and let the real communication begin. Words may happen, but give the real communication an opportunity. Do this the next time you are arguing with someone. This might take real courage, real strength, real trust, a dropping of the ego, but it will be well worth your effort. Do not allow your fear of losing prevent you from allowing this type of communication from happening. It may take a little while to let the mind rest, to let the thoughts disappear, to let the ego evaporate. Only by letting go, will you know what is really important: your very being; not your expectations, desires, wants, hopes or even your feelings. The communication is then not even of two beings, but one essence with two bodies. Put the mind aside and enjoy the communion with nature, existence and yourself.

Silence is the language of all beings! Silence is the absence of both the spoken word and the internal dialogue of your mind. Nothing is present to interfere with the moment and all that the moment is communicating to you.


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