An Explanation of ‘Everything is Silence’

Q: What do you mean “everything is silence?”

A: Silence is just a word. There are other words one might use in its place and those other words would perhaps make sense to people: spirit, source, God. But I prefer not to use any of those words because they are already loaded with meaning for most people. If you say “everything is spirit” or “everything is God” people will probably think they know exactly what you are talking about and they won’t really look at it. But silence is not something that one can really have an idea about, at least not if you say “everything is silence.” Most people would think of silence as the absence of sound. So if “everything is silence,” including sound, then what does that mean? What on earth is he talking about? If that is the response, then I have accomplished something.

Q: So what are you talking about?

A: Well, just like the wave is really a movement of the ocean, to me everything is a movement of silence. The reason I like the word silence is because it is actually by becoming acquainted with silence, with the depths of silence, that one can begin to realize that it is not empty. I mean most of us think of silence as mere absence. And indeed it does appear that way. But anyone who has ever really gone into silence in a deep way can tell you that not only is it not mere absence, not a big empty space, but it has this quality of fullness that one can not fathom. It is full of everything. And there is this sense that not only is it full of everything, but it is everything. That “everything” is simply a manifestation of what lies in silence. Just like a wave is simply a movement or manifestation of the ocean. The wave is not separate from the ocean, right? It is the ocean. It is the ocean appearing as a wave. Well, sound, or anything else, is not separate from the silence. It isn’t “in” the silence. It is the silence. It is silence appearing as sound, or an animal or a tree or a person. It is all the same. It is all appearances of matter and energy, and even matter and energy in some sense are preceded by silence, are merely aspects of this deep, deep mysterious “nothing” that I am calling “silence,” but others might call “spirit” or “God.”

But if you take this as a bunch of interesting ideas and all you get is the idea of it, then you aren’t getting it at all. To “get it” you have to become acquainted with silence. Really acquainted with it. You have to dwell in silence. Maybe for years. Or maybe just for a few seconds. I think one moment in awareness of the depths of silence would be enough to transform any life. To reorient it away from itself and its own apparent products and accomplishments, toward the real source of all that. The source of everything appearing as you and me and the grass and the fish and the stars and energy and everything.

All of that is deeply intertwined, and in that sense it is not separate, but it is also all a manifestation of silence, of emptiness, or of spirit or source or consciousness or whatever words you want to use. But the words really get in the way if we have an idea about what the words mean. So I like to use the word silence, because in this day and age, hardly anyone knows what silence is. So it is a mysterious word. And if you really go into that mystery in a deep way, you will be amazed at what you find there. The whole of everything. It’s all there in silence. Because, silence is everything, and everything is silence. Waves in the ocean. Dancing tongues of fire.