Tuesday, February 8, 2011
It was written of one of the early Christian hermits Abba Agathon, who went into the deserts of Egypt to search for what is real amid the delusions of what passes for civilisation, that he kept a stone in his mouth for several years until he learnt to be silent. This may or may not be true but it carries a metaphorical implication of dedication to external silence and to the silence of the mind. If this seems remarkable to us today it was not so for the ancient philosophers many of whom practised silence as a 'spiritual' discipline. Philosophy today seems to be focussed on ideas whereas until absorbed or supressed by Christianity, many forms of ancient western philosophy employed practical exercises to embed learning and to close what we today call the 'knowing/doing gap' This blog will explore some of these ideas, review books on silence and philosophy, give notice of Meditation Days and Retreats, and share some of my experiences of 'sounding the silence'. I often carry a small pebble in my pocket as a reminder to listen carefully and enter into the silence which is always there to be experienced.