What is silence really? Is the silence we seek in life merely acoustic, or does it have other dimensions? Is there a way to describe the quality of silence in scientific language?
Silence consists in myriads of threads of memory, thought and feeling, not just absence of physical acoustic activity. The model of reality espoused be esotericists such as Alice Bailey or Gurdjieff incorporates the human energy fields of emotion, thought, feeling and intuition into the purely physical fields touted as the only reality by the more reductionist physicists. There are many highly accomplished scientists bridging these models of reality, Rupert Sheldrake, Bruce Lipton and Larry Dossey are three of a huge number of examples.
It is necessary to understand silence as a cessation of activity, but not only physically (and perhaps not even at all physically), but also on the level of energy. The composer Karlheinz Stockhausen once said he felt that a succession of silences is possible. Likely he was trying to say that there are beautiful energies that are as awe-filled as a poignant silence, yet have a form just as a sound does. This underlines the picture of a universe with energy that goes way beyond the physical level. Nothing fancy, just understanding reality as consisting of energies innately accessible to us humans, over and above the four forces of physics that Einstein tried valiantly to unify at the physical level, and felt he’d failed after 30 years of trying.
Such a cessation of activity on many levels leads to a greater awareness of and therefore connection with the powerful yet gentle energy, radiance, experience and joy that is the finer, 100% natural circulation that exists despite our often neglecting it or our distraction from it. A fulfilled person is often in rapport with or embraced by this.
Silence properly understood is an allowing of radiant energy, not simply of cessation of activity. That cessation of the energetic flows in the human psyche results in a radiant glowing experience that can be understood if you consider a model of energy including the super-physical. Music can aid this process, by engaging the attention with sounds that give space to the listener’s attention so that the experiencer can stand back from the physical sound, and imbibe the deeper energies.
This is often hard for westerners to do as we can be quite obsessed with incessant thoughts, activity or workaholism. It is best to at least remember the natural intelligence and radiance (some might see it as god, the Sufis say “there is no god but him who is god”, thereby affirming seeing or imbibing this). To stand back from everything that has momentum or habit can require uncommon courage.
The quality of silence is also the quality of our energy, and if we are practiced at allowing the fullness of love, life, beauty and the coursing of fully alive sensations through us, that silence will be not sonic absence but a rainbow chord of feeling, a shining earthy star. This is the true, potential, wonderful secret of the quality of silence.