An Homage to Silence


The Sound of Silence

I’m sitting on a terrace of a friend’s privately owned home in Capri, Italy. This place is essentially wedged into the hillside. It is cool here in the evening as all the breezes drive inland from the ocean, which I can just see beyond the trees.

The leaves vibrate rapidly with the wind producing one of my favorite sounds on earth: that steady ‘shhhhhh’ as if some invisible entity were urging quietus and attention. But to what, I wonder. And it strikes me: to the silence.

It is that silence which permeates all things. For without it, there would be no sound to fill that seeming void. And yet, all sound must return to it.

Perhaps, that is why I like the sigh of the leaves so much. It begins, then swells, fades, and returns again to nothing like an unvoiced ‘AUM’ or more appropriately, like a single breath.

It spurns me into meditation. My breath falls in sync with that great exhale of nature. Then, I see the silence within. It is overwhelmingly powerful. It seizes my senses.

I have a thought: we are not exempt from the silence. We are born of it. We return to it. And it is beautiful. To access the silence is to access that eternal state of being which is presence.

The Noise

We fill our lives with so much noise; much of it perhaps white noise. We are averse to the silence. It seems daunting, unknown, lonely. I sit with the silence regularly, but I still feel that fear from time to time.

We produce the noise because we think it ascribes ultimate meaning to our lives and our senses of self. And while the noise is not necessarily a negative thing, it must return again to silence.

Our endeavors, our possessions, even our relationships; all of these are impermanent and subject to the silence. Now, don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying those things are meaningless. On the contrary, I think that when we truly accept and realize that those things are ultimately fleeting, they have the capacity to offer deeper, truer meaning to our lives.

The Anchor

It is about perspective. Many people spend much of their time flitting from one thing to the next whether on a large or small scale. And every time we move onto something else, there is a reorganization of perspective that occurs. Due to this jumping about, sometimes that perspective is unclear for us. It can cause great discomfort and aversion.

Now, imagine if you could approach every instance from one perspective: that of the eternal present or the silence. When we anchor ourselves in the silence, then we learn to see the arising and fading of the noise instead of always following it to its greatest height and desperately chasing after it as it disappears.

Then, we realize that there is no need to frantically ride that roller coaster. We realize that we are in fact the origin and the end.

Wishing you a blissful 4th of July Weekend.

By Terence Stone

Chief Editor and Founder of Urban Spiritual, I’m a classically trained singer and actor living in New York City, who has performed in the U.S. and Europe. I’m also a writer, traveller, meditator, arts-lover, and well-being enthusiast.

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  • You described the scene so well, you transported me to that Italian terrace for a moment. Thank you for that, and for the reminder.

    • Sarah, thanks for reading as always. You are most welcome. Glad my writing spurned some introspective thought. Be well.

  • Kathy

    I find that I have become attached to the silence… so that I am upset when it is not silent, I am upset when I have to do things in the world and cannot simply be still. So I have to really remind myself that on some level, I must be choosing the noise and busyness that seems to intrude on “me”… I must be choosing to be a “me” that can be a victim of such intrusions so that I can pretend I’m not responsible for them and thereby distract myself from the real source of my existence. My practice has become to simply remind myself, every time I’m seemingly upset by something external, that it is not the real problem… the real problem is my attachment to a “me”.

    Sorry, a little off topic, but that’s what I thought of while reading your post. I’m jealous of your Italy adventure and your communion with the leaves. So I will try to enjoy it vicariously through you!

    • Kathy, I don’t think it was off topic at all. I think you’re right on. An extremely insightful comment. If that is what the silence teaches you, then that is what it is there for. Thanks for sharing. Be well.