Heart Happy (cathy_edgett) wrote,
Heart Happy

In praise of silence -

Jacob Needleman in Why Can't We be Good? speaks of a way of being he inhabited right after his mother died.  I have often noted how beautiful people look at funerals.  My sense of it is that we are pulled out of our own personal worries into something bigger that supports us as we grieve.

Needleman writes of his experience this way:

    "In the days that followed there was nothing that anyone could say or do that could offend me, or hurt me, or irritate me. I had not a single angry impulse or jealous or vengeful thought. As the same time, my attitude toward others - family, friends, or strangers - was indescribably clear and direct. I "required" nothing of anyone and this attitude, far from cutting me off from people, actually opened my heart to everyone in ways and degrees extraordinarily appropriate to each person I came in touch with.  There was nothing "philosophical" or "mental" about this attitude.  It was not that I was feeling or thinking about the mortality of all human beings and therefore remembering to treat them with kindness or compassion.  It was nothing that I was "doing." I simply saw and felt them; some I loved, some I disliked, some I let into myself, some I kept away from myself. At different times I treated the same person differently without rationalizing the contradiction, and when I wanted something from someone I simply asked for it or took it under the guidance of some sort of moral clairvoyance that allowed me to act without hurting or offending or seducing anyone. If someone asked me for something I said yes or no with an even, equal voice. I had not a single concern about what others would think of me, nor a single worry about whether I should be giving more attention to others or doing more for them.

    At times I laughed and even joked. And I remember how full and deep my laughter sounded. Nor was I afraid sometimes to allow my tears to come, either alone or with others.

    And now, long after this period, as I think about what was then happening in me and what state of being had been given to me, I can say that every cell of my body, brain and heart was inhabited by silence in the form of a very fine, evenly distributed attention like the magical perfume of some ancient legend, bringing not joy, but something related to it that has no name, in the midst of profound sorrow and grief, and bringing, so to say, the holy grail of the power to love, without desire or craving, within one's vision and hope of attainment."

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