George Andersen

Philosophical Counselor

31 October
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On silence

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Silence helps us direct our attention inside. It seems easy to understand but there are nuances in this concept. There are various types of silence and we can choose a working definition when reflecting on it. The silence I think about is one that combines physical silence with the mental one. Even the most quiet places on earth are not void of sound but that does not mean they are not silent.

For most of us, silence includes to some extent the existence of sounds of quality, which I conceive of as non-intrusive sounds, like wind, or gentle bird singing, some kind of gently flowing water, or a soothing rhythm. In a strictly physical sense, we can get as close as possible to complete absence of sound in specially built chambers but even there we might still hear the sound produced by the beats of our own heart.

The other, more subtle side, is the mental silence, which is even more important to explore. It is the silence we experience when we suspend thoughts expressed internally with words, or images. To get there, we must work through the mental noise, which might appear as amplified by the silence of the outside, in order to get to the second, more profound silence of simply being.

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