“All things seen depend upon what is not seen. All sounds depend upon silence,” says the great teacher Adyashanti in a poem I read a few a weeks ago. The words hit me like rainwater on cracked, dry desert earth. Each drop absorbed hungrily, greedily and with desperation. The impact sent debris flying, creating imprints of reconciliation to the midline like sunbursts, like splotches of paint on a white wall. The contrast stark and curious.
It is only within the full expanse of the paradox can you see the place of balance.
In this case the inquiry has been an exploration of truth. The inner individual truth, and the greater universal truth. As a yogi, it is the synergy of the two that I’m interested in. As a human dedicated to the path of relationship it is more specifically the expression of said truth not on the inside, not in a journal, not shrouded in soft, palatable, potentially passive-aggressive drapery, but out loud, through the vehicle of the voice.
Judith Lasater in her co-authored book with her husband Ike entitled “What We Say Matters,” writes “what you say will change the world.” Speech, like dance, like art, like movement, is the outer expression of our inner landscape. Unlike the myriad of other forms of communication, our speech is the interface with which we often engage interpersonally with partners, with family members, with colleagues, with and as, teachers, poets and mystics. Our words can be both extremely dangerous and completely uplifting in their effect.
As the authors, editors and publishers of our vocal world we hold the power to choose though oftentimes we forget. Hopelessly stuck on repeat, stories, pains, and old wounds deeply embedded in our psyche fly with reckless abandon to any willing ear. Or perhaps more subtle; cultural and ancestral programming mask the true nature of our need to express. Insecurities, guilt and chronic disharmony with our inner world confuse our delivery, perpetuate misunderstanding and disguise our real needs. We feel alienated, unheard, and alone.
Most of us are not taught to be an empowered and clear speaker. I know I was not. Raised in a world where oftentimes the loudest and quickest person in the room gets the boon, we unknowingly widen the rift between what is said and what is truly meant or felt as we grow older. We forget how to listen and trust our inner guru. We essentially give away our greatest power, succumbing to the whim and fancy of external circumstance.
I am reminded of David Whyte. He says; “We are the only corner of creation that can refuse to be itself.” Think of all the times both historically and in the present where you have spoken an untruth at fear of hurting someone else. Where you may have set a shaky, permeable boundary because you didn’t feel worthy of a strong one. Where you said something you didn’t mean at all in an effort to manipulate or change a situation to serve your needs…
These last few months for me have been wrought with ‘adult conversations’. Where finally the truth of my heart overpowers my fear to speak it. Where compassion, in certain situations, has called for sharp clarity over soft communication. Where I am learning how to say NO for the first time in my life – where I am learning to stand tall instead of roll over. All of these discoveries have served not for the dissolution of connection in relationship, but for their salvation.
A few weeks ago at Wanderlust Tahoe, the Tantrik scholar Christopher Tompkins defined the ‘yoga’ (often defined as yoking or union) as ‘attunement’. The tuning of the individual with the universal where we first take a moment to find the frequency within, the great flow of life force energy or Shaki that takes her seat in the Truth of the heart.
Here at Kripalu on the east coast I am sitting with Bill Mahony, author of Exquisite Love. He said, deeper than the surface lies an unparalleled yearning for love. This love, the highest love, is unconditional love (pg. 188), and the truth will always serve the highest. The foundation for our offerings and contributions in this world – as teachers and as students – is the practice of yoga. Go into the power of your inner silence and listen. Let your words, when it is time to speak them, be an extension of your heart.
What we see is not the most important.
Could dust rise without the invisible hand of the wind?
Could a fan turn without any current?
Could lungs breath with breath?
what is the shape of love?
How much does joy weigh
when held in the palm of your hand?
Can you catch the spirit of Life in a jar?
All things seen depend upon the Unseen.
All sounds depend upon silence.
All things felt depend upon what is not felt.