And Now Silence, My Strict Tutor

Rumi wrote the line that I’ve taken for the title of this blog post: And now silence, my strict tutor.

I’ve been trying to be easy in silence these past couple of days as nothing much has struck me as worthy of a blog post, nothing that hasn’t already been said, so I’m sitting with the silence in my head and trying to learn something from it.

Silence is a strict tutor. In silence we leave ourselves open to so much. It’s easy to fill silence and in doing so shut everything else out, everything that we don’t want to hear or think about. Sitting in the silence makes me squirm–for in the silence I don’t know what you think about me, what I can do to win your approval. In the silence, I have only myself and if I listen to myself the danger is in making stuff up to fill the silence.

The trick is to not try to fill the silence, but to just be in it. When I try too hard to fill it, what comes out is just noise. Already we have too much noise–I don’t need to contribute to it. If I’m going to break the silence, I believe I should break it in a way that moves the conversation forward.

For a guy who wrote a lot, Rumi has much to say about silence:

“Silence is the language of god. All else is poor translation.”

“Be silent, for this tongue of yours is the enemy of the soul.”

“In silence, there is eloquence.”

The temptation to fill the silence seems rooted in a desire to ease discomfort. We assume because we are uncomfortable, others might be as well. We take it upon ourselves to ease their burden, the burden we’ve imagined for them, the burden we want them to have.

“Enough with such questions, let silence take you to the core of life.”

If I can shut up long enough, I might be able to hear something–if I listen to you without commenting, without offering my feedback, my take, my two cents. What can I learn if I just listen and experience what you are saying? So often instead of hearing, we simply anticipate: anticipate what we can say to “help” or to sound smart or to elevate ourselves as experts.

“Keep silent because the world of silence is a vast fullness.  Do not beat the drum of words, the word is only an empty drum.”

I love this–do not beat the drum of words. As a person who lives by language, I want to beat everything to death with words. I want to describe and analyze and report back. I want you to describe and analyze and report back. If I can talk about something or write about it, I can, I believe anyway, understand it. Sometimes though, we just have to feel something to truly understand it.

Instead of worrying about my silence, my current inability to string my thoughts together, I am going to surrender to the silence.

We have to surrender to the silence. This is me. Surrendering.

“Fill me with the wine of your silence
Let it soak my every pore
For the inner splendor it reveals
is a blessing
is a blessing.
” –Rumi