What are Silence and Stillness?

silenceEach thought arises spontaneously in the moment out of the field of silence….If it wasn’t for silence we would not hear the inner voice.

Only in the silence can we hear the loving being of our self.
Carolyn Hobb.

Sitting silently, doing nothing ~ and the grass grows by itself.
Zen poet, Basho

In May 2013, I attended the week-long 8th Jungian Odyssey entitled Echoes of Silence: Listening to Soul, Self and Other. Appropriately, the Swiss location for the seminar was a former Carthusian Monastery, founded in 1150, where the monks lived mostly in silence. Today, the buildings in Kartause Ittingen have been restored into a modern retreat centre.

Here are some of the gems ~ there was a lot of talking, even during the meditations, which came as an unwanted surprise ~ about silence.  George Bernard Shaw, suggested an early speaker, summed up that paradox in these words:

I believe so strongly in the discipline of silence that I could talk about it for hours. Another quoted Shakespeare: Silence is the perfect herald of joy.

Others said:

The Self is best experienced through silence.
The Transpersonal is the place of silence.
Everything originates in silence.
You can see silence in a Zen garden.
Silence is a Presence.

Lastly, another presenter echoed Rumi:

Silence is a privileged entry into the way of God, who also said: Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation… [so] … let silence take you to the core of life.

And here, now, are all the other quotes that I had collected before I went to Switzerland ~ along with England, Scotland and Germany ~ to also visit friends and family:

Silence gives us leave to be great and universal.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The silence within us is the source of all that we are.
 Swami Amwar Jyoti

Silence is a place of great power and healing.
Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.

In the sweet territory of silence we touch the mystery. It is the place of reflection and contemplation, and it is the place where we can connect with the deep knowing, to the deep wisdom way.
Angeles Arrien, Ph.D 

Inner calm needs silence and solitude to develop. In my years as an educator, I have noticed that families whose children are calmest usually have a common characteristic: their parents have given them the gift of silence.

The only way to rest in the truth of who we are is to sit in silence with awareness of the present moment. Anything that is an idea, a concept an emotion or feeling is not it. Listen to the silence and let it teach you all you need to know. It will reveal itself.
Lori Anne Speed, Psych-K practioner and musician

What does stillness mean? It means destroy yourself because any shape or form is the cause of trouble. Give up the notion that I am so and so. All that is required to realize the Self is to be still. Can it get any easier than that?
Ramana Maharshi

You are here, every individual is here, the whole existence is available. All that you need is just to be silent and listen to existence. There is no need of any religion, there is no need of any God, there is no need of any priesthood, there is no need of any organization.

The innermost centre is in silence…. It is only out of silence that action arises…. If you don’t know how to sit silently, or stand silently in deep meditation – whatsoever you go on doing is reaction, not action….Learn sitting silently which makes a mirror out of your consciousness, and then you function moment to moment. You reflect life ….Then your eyes are clear and innocent, you have clarity, you have vision, and you are never untrue to life. This is authentic living. Remember: Silence is the question. Silence is the answer. Silence is the ultimate truth. In silence one awakens and meets with existence.

A meditative mind is silent. It is not the silence which thoughts can conceive of; it is not the silence of a still evening; it is the silence when thought, with all its images, its words and perceptions have entirely ceased. This meditative mind is the religious mind — the religion that is not touched by the church, the temples or by chants. 

When you are watching without motive … any kind of demand …with a great silence and space …[then] … there is something beyond all words, beyond all measure … [and] … when there is silence, there is immense timeless space; then, only then, is there a possibility of coming upon that which is the eternal sacred.

The place to live is not in the moment, but in the space between the moments – a space that holds a continued flow of wisdom and consciousness. By connecting to the space between the moments of your life you start to experience what is, not what was.
Christopher Hansard. 

And it is in that silence, that stillness, which has no time dimension to it, that the shamans believe we can dream our world into being. 

Next, Stillness as reflected in the 5Rhythms dance practice created by Gabrielle Roth:

Stillness is the mother of all rhythm. She hosts your deepest prayers.
In stillness we find silence.
In emptiness we find silence.
In silence we touch our deepest self. 

And this from one of the people she taught:

And yet we are afraid of silence … emptiness … and stillness. So we stay on the surface, caught in our thoughts and feelings, not connected to the refuge that is underneath…. To embrace the essential truth is to allow our divinity to hold our humanity, which is a potent and graceful way to live. This workshop is about living our lives in the deep waters of stillness.
Amara Pagano.

And here is the English poet, William Wordsworth:

When from our better selves we have too long
Been parted by the hurrying world, and droop,
Sick of its business, and of its pleasures tired,
How gracious, how benign, is Solitude.


Movement is what creates life.
Stillness is what creates love.
To be still
And still moving ~
That is everything
Do Hyun Choe.

And I don’t know where I found this last one which seems to be a good way to end this subject:

Stillness and tranquility set things in order in the universe.

And without order where would we all be?