The motivation for undertaking this project, to praise and extol the virtues of silence, has come from my own personal experience of its many benefits. In gathering material I became aware of two main the benefits of silence down through the ages from people of all traditions east and west.
For me the interest and appreciation of silence really began when, as a young man, I attended a silent retreat with my uncle, who wanting some company. There were about 100 men, all maintaining the discipline of outer silence, what became clear was that the outer silence help bring about an inner silence which in turn resulted in both clarity of mind and a great inner peace and contentment.
I have explored the nature of silence and how it relates to communications, decision-making, Music and most importantly Meditation. I have discovered for myself over the years how Meditation is the practice par excellence of bringing the entire being to silence and stillness, which when achieved enables us to connect with our true inner being.
The great value placed on silence by religious orders is described including how four of the world’s great spiritual teachers; Buddha, Mohammed, Law Tzu and Jesus all spent considerable time in silence and solitude before emerging to offer their guidance.
I concluded the offering by telling my story of how the experience of silence has impacted my attitudes, ideas and actions during my life.
My role has been simple to integrate the wise words of others into a cohesive whole so that you can understand better how silence can benefit our lives. May their words encourage you to quietly reflect on their meaning and connect with the ever-present silence.
The real motivation for undertaking this project , to praise the and extol the virtues of silence , has come from my own personal experience of the many benefits it bring.
The real power of silence was first acknowledge by me when i was 18 years old .My uncle, who had acted as my godfather when I was formally confirmed in the Catholic religion ,asked me if i would accompany him on a weekend silent retreat to be held at a local jesuit monastery .It was the first time he had attended such an event and was looking for company. He probably also thought that it would do me some good .How right he was.
The retreat was attended by about 100 men who expect for a meeting on Saturday evening when questions could be asked , maintained total silence for the weekend. I was greatly surprised about how we were able to communicate without words.
What I also discovered as the weekend progressed was how many my mind gradually became quieter and at the same time more clear. I decided that the best use of my time would be to undertake some self-examination . This took the form of a reflection on my life , considering what had transpired so far , the main lessons learned and what might be the best direction for the future.
What happened was that the silence and the good company created the ideal conditions for such a reflective activity . I wrote down the findings in the form of notes to which I might refer in the future ,as a reminder . It was a beautiful experience in that the thoughts and then the written words just seemed to flow quite naturally , without any effort . There was a clarity which enabled me to see and acknowledge both the good and not so good behaviors of my past.
It was the honesty and the natural humility in which the observations were made that surprised ; there were no claims or criticisms. As a result of that initial experience. I become a convert to the power of silence and for the next 11 years continued to accompany my uncle on our yearly silent retreat.
When I moved from the US to Brussels just before my 30th birthday i was fortunate enough to find the school of Practical Philosophy , Which is associated with the school of Economic Science, a London-based educational charity ,founded in 1937 .This school provides a marvellous inclusive programme of practical , cultural and spiritual traditions of the East & the West.
Part of the study programme are weekend and week-long retreats. while the regular retreats are not run in silence ,significant opportunities are offered for quiet reflection and most importantly meditation , the exercise per excellence for helping to bring one to real silence and stillness.
Attendance at this school as both a student and later as a tutor has continued for more than 40 years. In recent years yearly silent retreats have been organised which I have attended regularly .It is one of the highlights of my year.
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