[The Lord of Silence: general index]

10    Silence - a Means or an End?

Every religious form runs a risk when exalts too much one element which it holds to be essential for the achievement of its ends. Oversimplifying for reasons of clarity, I maintain that an unilluminated Catholic runs this risk when he or she displaces the centre of worship from God to the church. The protestant who still harbours the fear that the message of the new covenant may be sullied by dogmatic pressures and traditional ritual, runs the same risk by making the search for and interpretation of revelation revolve solely around Scripture. The Quaker who seeks refuge from any form of programmed or guided worship risks making a fetish of silence, taking it as a value in itself.

God cannot be confined in any church, any tradition, any book, or any method of seeking. His presence in creation is universal, His channels of communication infinite, and His Spirit blows where it wishes. No one of these three great tools of communicating with God, though certainly blessed as means, can become sacred or be substituted for the end - which is sacred because it wholly coincides with God.

Like other religious means silence is a privileged path as long as it is cleared of all obstructions or superfluity of sacramental aids, and like the others empties into the ocean of the Spirit, which alone can bless it as a way. Its humble service is merely to facilitate the meeting of humanity and the Father of every one - to restore a relationship that has been interrupted for a hundred and one reasons. Every means, however precious it may be, is to be kept within its natural limits so that it cannot invade the space of God himself.

The steps of the ladder that leads to Paradise are not as holy as Paradise itself and so are not worshipped. However, they are to be kept clean and in simple order; they are to be repaired if time has rotted them; they are to be pointed out to those who do not know the path of every prodigal son.

By contrast the exaltation of means beyond just making them known is tainted with one or other sort of idolatry - an ever present trap for frail humanity which ever seeks to exchange the means for the end.

Rome, 12 VII 1987

Every soul is potentially divine.
The goal of life is to make manifest our own inner divinity by gaining control of nature, both external and internal.
Manifest this with disinterested work, either through devotion, education, or the development of your psychic powers or philosophical thought.
Follow one or all of these paths and you will become free. This is the essence of religion.
Doctrines, dogmas, rituals, books, temples, churches, and all forms are accessories of secondary importance.

Raja Yoga, from Swami Vivekananda, The Practice of Yoga

Prisons are built with the stones of the law, brothels with the bricks of religion.

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Translation by George T. Peck

[Original Italian]

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