Enjoy the Silence

A commenter on my last post reminded me of another important point that came up during that radio show, that I wanted to highlight here.

Plenty of people complain that they wish they could hear/see/feel the gods like certain other people do, or at least wish they could do so better than they currently can. Of course, they often mistakenly think that such ability comes naturally or easily, when in fact it is usually the result of many, many years of work and practice. But there’s another factor involved these days more than ever before, and it needs to be examined. And that is the fact that our culture is geared entirely toward making sure you never have to be silent and still, alone with your thoughts, for a single moment.

The other day I stood waiting for the bus and watched a girl take out her phone and perform a number of completely meaningless actions (I think she was playing some game), just so she didn’t have to sit there quietly for a couple of minutes with nothing to occupy her mind. I am seeing this more and more lately – people unable to stand even a brief time without external stimuli. And this goes hand-in-hand with people being decreasingly aware of their physical surroundings, as they walk down the sidewalk (or gods forbid, drive down the street) with eyes glued to a device.

These trends do not bode well for the future of our species in many ways, but they are particularly dangerous for anyone with spiritual inclinations, especially those who wish to be able to communicate with the divine. How are you supposed to ever hear the voices of the gods when you never permit a moment of silence in which They can be heard? How will you notice the omens They may be sending to you when you don’t ever look up from your phone?

You need silence – both literally and metaphorically – to give Them room to communicate, and to give you the ability to process that communication. And it can’t just be a minute here or there – for not only do the gods not work on your schedule, but it is going to take some time for your brain to unwind and become receptive after a constant barrage of input. It’s like how, if you sit quietly long enough in the woods, you will start to hear more and more birdsong and animal activity, as they acclimate to your presence and you become more attentive. There is a reason that sensory deprivation has been used for ages in order to stimulate altered states of consciousness. Right now we are in a constant state of sensory overload, and it is a serious threat to all forms of mysticism.

Try turning everything off and see how much it changes things. No phone, no computer, no television, no music. Try even no reading, no busy work, nothing. Take a walk and pay attention to the world around you, and the world within you. Sit at your shrine and just speak aloud to your gods, and then give Them space to respond. Remove the constant chatter of the modern world, and your internal chatter will begin to abate as well. Do this often enough, make room for Them in this way, and the results will be significant.

~ by Dver on June 6, 2014.

7 Responses to “Enjoy the Silence”

  1. I can really relate to this. Even as a child I preferred the quiet (or noise) of my natural surroundings to the sound of the radio or TV. I grew up that way and when I met people who watch TV all the time, even they eat, and one girl who kept a TV on all night in bed when I was staying in her room I was absolutely horrified. Yes, would much rather be, listen, comtemplate, commune than fiddle with pointless games or drown the silence / noise with music.

  2. Thanks so much for this. I need to spend more time in silence.

  3. Respectful disagreement:

    This is true for some people. But that which you consider noise and a blotting out of the voices of Them can be and is a pathway to Them for others. Overstimulation is also an ancient and valid path to altered states of consciousness.

    I think it’s also a category error to separate such technological aspects as being something apart from nature. I strongly recommend the writing of Nathan Jurgenson on the subject of Digital Dualism here:
    http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/author/nathanjurgenson/

    • “Overstimulation is also an ancient and valid path to altered states of consciousness.”

      For one thing, overstimulation of the senses as a path to ASC is done as ritual – not as some prolonged lifestyle. And it’s done with spiritually-associated elements such as sacred music, incense, rhythm, imagery, breathing techniques, etc. There is no way that is comparable to living your life constantly seeking distraction in the most superficial and meaningless ways possible. Tweets, reality tv shows and Farmville are simply NOT conducive to a mystical state of consciousness. Nor would be other, non-technological forms of distraction. The point here is how we’re using technology, not the technology itself (which could theoretically be used to enhance one’s spiritual work – but by and large, that’s not what’s happening, and it’s certainly not what I was talking about).

      I’m not advocating Luddism or some permanently monkish lifestyle, I’m simply saying that to hear one voice, you sometimes need to shut out all other voices, especially if that cacophony is only trying to get you to buy products, socialize with other humans, and distract yourself from the present reality around you, which is sadly the focus of most of our technology as it is commonly used today.

  4. I periodically take silence fasts – minimum once a year – where everything is off, no phone, no tv, no music, no talking. Its HARD, but mostly because its vaguely terrifying for my friends; while I can and do put my phone down for long periods of time, I’m usually easily reachable. I found I had to tell people on social media “I am doing this thing. Do not freak the fuck out. If you need me badly enough, if its that important, come to my house. If you don’t know where I live, you can’t need me badly enough.” (though I do have an emergency contact system – my phone has a lost phone app that will force it to scream and light up if a code word is sent. Three people know that code and know to use it if it is a 100% emergency on pain of facemurder).

    I find it immensely helpful both on a spiritual level and on a personal decompression level – its really really nice to unplug. I’ve also switched to doing the majority of my interneting at work, since I’m already here anyway sitting in front of a computer, which leave more time at home for all the other stuff. I find I can go days now without needing my laptop; and I’ve got a TV i can stick in a closet when I don’t want temptation.

    • It’s been awhile since I’ve done a silence fast like that (with the no-talking rule) but I find them effective too. Of course, much of my life is pretty close to that anyway, as on an average day I might talk aloud to only my boss or the clerk at a store.

      I also do a lot of my interneting at work, it’s quite nice to get that taken care of and be able to focus on other things when at home.

  5. […] I’ve the benefit of a kind lover and his encouragement.  And I’d also read a post from Dver which helped me considerably through this rather epic (apparent absence).  It, and one she posted […]

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