Silence in Relationships

In attending to our relationships, we can also learn the ways that Silence enters, and we can cultivate its presence. . . .

Speaking that takes the form of narration, which tells about experience rather than speaking from within it, does not allow for a vivid presence of Silence. . . .

We are in that pattern of narration when we wait impatiently, with nervous pauses, for the other person to finish the sentence so we can talk about what we want to talk about. This narrating form of language, which derives from the dominance of the printed word, makes us godlike ego spectators to our own experience, and thus spectators and controllers of others and of the wider world. Such a pattern of speaking, running one word right into the other without pause, covers over the realm of Silence. The pauses in speech are places where Silence can enter to change completely the character, sense, meaning, and feeling of what we say. . . .

A first entry into the Silence between ourselves and others is to appreciate the pause, the stumbling, the inarticulateness, the gaps, and the searching that accompany speaking. . . . Listening is required for the soul of speech to live, a listening that does not come only before and after we speak but within our speaking itself. . . .

Relating of any sort always contains an element of power and the need to feel in charge. When we open up to another, even in the most minimal way, we risk losing ourselves. We subconsciously know this and become extremely anxious when there are gaps in our conversation. . . . the subconscious need for power over the other person . . . uses this tool of automatic, rapid speech.

When we are within the presence of living Silence, which is being created every moment by the way we speak with someone, we feel an extraordinary fullness that makes it possible to be within the soul of another without harming the other person with our needs, desires, wants, and fantasies. It is a key to a holy relationship. . . . Relationship is as much about the presence of this third as it is about two people relating. . . . It is not possible to be together, intimately close to one another, except through the cultivation of the holiness of Silence. When it has no place in our relating, we feel a heavy presence looming darkly.

Silence protects us from the illusions of relating. The primary illusion is romanticism, the hope that there is only you and I and nothing else in the world. Another illusion is thinking it possible to know the soul being of the other directly. This illusion gradually usurps the freedom of the other by not allowing his or her mystery. It results in suffocation. Another illusion is thinking that we can relate without the presence of power. Power is always an aspect of any relationship. It keeps us away from necessary vulnerability and gives the feeling of being in charge. We have to go through these illusions, but they become destructive if we are not able to find and honour the presence of the third, the Silence.

Robert Sardello in  Silence: The Mystery of Wholeness

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  1. Thank you for sharing this quote, Glen. I feel like it speaks to not just my personal relating, but my relating with others at work. Encountering a living Silence throughout my day seems exciting and delicious. Almost a decadent way to live. I like it.