A Particular Silence
One evening two thousand of us sat with folded legs on cushions in a vast oval hall with a marble floor and walls of mosquito netting. High overhead arched a roof made of tough fabric supported by metal beams. The tropic darkness clung closely to the structure, but we sat in soft light from suspended fixtures. As we sat, silent ourselves, we heard rustlings from thick stands of bamboo outside, and from far away the blatting of rickshaw horns and the rumble of trucks.
We were listening. We had become listening – and it was really more like drinking. In front of us on a low dais a man sat in a chair, and he was speaking. And in between his words and phrases silence vibrated like a drum and crept down into our cells and gave us something we’d always been thirsty for. We were great hollow wells being filled from somewhere mysterious – where does ground water come from? Whence comes light from the sky? We wells took both into us and the rain too – soft raining sounds like nature gives us, but filled with light. How can I say it? Love and bliss flowed into our hearts and buoyed us and expanded our auras and gave us something to sit upon, to see the stretching reaches of, to drink.
And so we ourselves did not rustle. It’s like, if you are drinking water you do not simultaneously jiggle about, cough, sneeze, or snore – it would interfere with getting the life-giving stream down your throat and into you where it can spread out and do its work of rehydration. And so unlike people in audiences everywhere we did not do those fidgety things, and we made no sound. The hall was filled with the reaching of souls towards silence, for that is what the speaker’s words contained.
I was in perhaps the third row, to the speaker’s left. As I sat bathed in the vapors of Indian air and the stillness of all of us and the flowings of my own energies rising and the breathing of the tall trees outside, I suddenly felt a movement in my lap. A small pressure, a weight on the fabric of my clothes transferring to my skin’s sensors. I opened my eyes downwards and saw looking up at me a wee grey being with a pink flesh flower on its nose, with petals like a little propeller. It stretched its neck up towards my face and the flower twitched. I looked back at it and I did not make a sound. My posture stayed exactly as it was. I took in the surprise of both of us, and I watched the movement the surprise made in my inner world without reacting outwardly whatsoever. My mind quickly computed the creature’s probable identity, and I don’t know if the creature computed mine.
He got down off my lap then and went along the row of meditators to the next person, an Italian woman of generous curves, and he climbed into her lap and gazed up at her like a cat does when it is feeling curious or confiding. I had slanted my gaze sideways and I watched as the woman opened her eyes, took in the situation, and moved not a muscle nor made a sound. And the little animal made his way like a mountaineer down off her lap and on to the next person. For all I know he had gone to many before me. Nobody squeaked like a rodent, nobody flailed, nobody screamed, nobody did a single thing but stay absolutely still, observe, and continue to just be.
And I closed my eyes again and went back into my inner space.