Lessons In Truth - Lesson 10 - Annotation 4
What is "the Silence"? Give steps that lead to entering "the Silence."
4. The Silence is the term used to describe our conscious contact with God in the "secret place of the Most High," when we feel perfect oneness with God, when we absorb the "inspiration of the Almighty" (Job 32:8 A. V.).
We need to keep in mind that when we use the term "the Silence" we should think of it in its two-fold nature: it is the process that brings us into "the secret place of the Most High" and it is the actual state of consciousness we have attained when we are in the "secret place."
When in the Silence itself we no longer merely think about God and His ideas, nor even about our relationship to Him, for this is all done in the step we term "meditation" which we shall consider later in this annotation. The Silence itself is not even the time when we talk to God and ask for things, but it is that period when we listen as God "speaks" to us, giving us the ideas that will, through the law of mind action, produce the things we desire.
"The fundamental purpose of the silence is to establish a means of conscious communion between God and man. It is literally seeking first 'his kingdom, and his righteousness,' knowing that in the discovery of the kingdom itself the lesser objectives are attained" (The Silence 2, pages 9-10).
This special form of prayer that we term "the Silence" is preceded by a period of time when we still the thinking and feeling activities of our mind and then direct our whole attention to God so that we may be a ready channel to receive His inspiration (divine ideas). It is not that we do not think at all in the Silence, but the thinking and feeling activities of the mind are no longer drawn outward, but turned consciously inward to Spirit.
"The purpose of the silence is to still the activity of the individual thought so that the still small voice of God may be heard. For in the silence Spirit speaks Truth to us and just the Truth of which we stand in need" (Teach Us To Pray 17).
God "speaks" to us in the Silence in various ways to suit our needs at the time. Sometimes His "speaking" may be an inner harmonious feeling or a direct inner knowing; it may come as an idea or a definite statement or affirmation; perhaps the words of a beloved hymn or poem or Bible verse suffice to present His answer. There are times when we just have a sense of peace, of well-being. At the core of all these ways is some divine idea that God is revealing to us.
The general term "the Silence" covers the entire process that brings us into conscious contact with the Presence of God. It is the state of mind into which we enter to make the acquaintance of this Presence. The Silence is perhaps the most vital phase of prayer, for it is the ultimate in our search, bringing us consciously into the divine Presence.
Because "Order is heaven's first law" (Alexander Pope) there is an orderly technique to be observed in steps that lead to the Silence. There are times when one step seems to fit so closely into another that we are not conscious of its being a separate activity. The steps presented here are to help the student as he aspires to enter "the Silence."
All efforts to get into "the Silence" will be unavailing unless both mind and body are relaxed. Relaxation is not inertia, but is rather a state of freedom and responsiveness on the part of both mind and body. When the mind is calm it is easier for the body to relax; when the body is relaxed it is easier for the mind to respond to the revelations of God in "the Silence."
"Much can be accomplished in the way of bodily relaxation by quietly telling the body to relax, to let go, to cease from its struggle . . . True relaxation ... is a complete surrender to the presence and power of Spirit. . . . one should be physically comfortable, free from strain, so that the body itself is not a disturbing factor or a distracting influence" (The Silence 2, pages 18, 31).
Webster's dictionary puts emphasis on the word thought in considering the word meditation and one definition of the latter is "to dwell in thought." Meditation is the act of contemplating; keeping the mind or attention fixed on a definite subject; musing on or pondering. During meditation we think about God and His ideas; we think about our relation to God as His son. In meditation we contemplate ideas and begin to deny reality to whatever wrong concepts we may have held, and we affirm the Truth.
"True meditation consists in allowing the mind to make unlimited flights of speculation regarding the nature of the Mind of God . . . until man becomes conscious of the presence of God . . . Meditation is a process of association with the divine Presence, a method of forming an acquaintance with it" (The Silence 2, pages 23, 24).
For example, if we are meditating on the idea of life, we may find it necessary to deny reality to many misconceptions we have allowed to take lodgment in our mind. We then begin to affirm the truth that God is life; that He is the Source of all life, and we are heirs to His life, which is eternal. Many other related thoughts may come to us during this meditation period; some we will probably discard, but others we will undoubtedly accept as we ponder their meanings.
Webster's dictionary defines the word concentration as meaning "to bring all one's powers, faculties, or activities to bear upon one course of action or thought or one object; to fix exclusive attention."
"Concentration is singleness of mind or purpose. . . . that sort of interest in which all the forces of your being are intent upon a given objective, or unified in a given purpose. . . . This concentration of the silence is best attained by continually turning the attention to the infinite nature of God, in whom 'we live, and move, and have our being'" (The Silence 2, page 25).
If in meditation we have done our thinking about the life idea, we begin in this third step to focus our entire attention on the pure nature of the life idea as God created it. We hold ourselves in "singleness of mind or purpose" without interference by mixed thinking. It is like holding up an empty cup so that God may fill it with His inspiration.
REALIZATION or INSPIRATION
With mind and body wholly relaxed, the meditation period has cleared the way for concentration on God as the one presence and one power. We are now directing our attention Godward so that when we reach the point of "the Silence" we shall know that we are in "the secret place of the Most High," in the very presence of God. In eagerness "we wait in singleness of heart" for the revelation, inspiration, or illumination from the Father. When God "speaks" it is the movement of Divine Mind on our mind expressing divine ideas that are absorbed by our waiting consciousness. We have now come to the place where we know!
Thanksgiving, covered by Lessons In Truth Lesson 10 Annotation 7, is very vital to every step that brings us into the Silence itself and it reaches its ultimate when the point of true realization is reached. Then the soul can say exultantly:
Preceding Entry: How are the qualities of life and love consciously incorporated into our soul, body, and affairs?
Following Entry: How do we center our mind on the Eternal (God)?