The problem at the heart of all our anguish is our inability to be silent. It proves itself through our inability to turn off every electronic. Like most of the problems that prevent our peace, it has everything to do with our mind. Our most definite chance of fostering growth in order is found through silence. There is something immensely humbling waking up before the sun and sitting within our silence waiting for wisdom to arise. It seems to me that each day corporations aim at colonizing every second of our lives. Civilizations do not aim to expand territories physically, but aim to expand into our mind–psycho-colonization.
It seems we are moving closer to our culture would becoming a dystopian authoritarian capitalism where advertisements filled our dreams. But one of the many issues plaguing my generation have to due with an inability to sit in silence. It’s unnatural to view the opinions of millions before we’ve even left the bed. When we need illumination for our conflicting affairs one must dive internally. Rather than escaping through the plethora of noise in our phones.
Illumination comes through silence, and through silence we deal with the problem of living a life filled with wonder. To live with these problems means one must creative a space to listening to the daily flux of emotions. Recognizing the actions needed for balance. Our relationship with silence shapes our lives. Rima Vesely-Flad, in Afrikan Wisdom, quoting Audre Lorde, aims to teach us about the importance of silence saying:
“In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my mortality, and of what I wished and wanted for my life, however short it might be, priorities and omissions became strongly etched in a merciless light and what I most regretted were my silences. Of what had I ever been afraid? To question or to speak as I believed could have meant pain, or death. But we all hurt in so many different ways, all the time, and pain will either change, or end. Death, on the other hand, is the final silence.
And that might be coming quickly, now, without regard for whether I had ever spoken what needed to be said, or had only betrayed myself into small silences, while I planned someday to speak, or waited for someone else’s words. And I began to recognize a source of power within myself that comes from the knowledge that while it is most desirable not to be afraid, learning to put fear into a perspective gave me great strength.
I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.”
Rima teaches us that it is possible to practice a revolutionary silence by understanding strength is found in stillness. One learns with much resentment that the world is held together by the faith and love of a few people. These few people contain the hope and glory of the world. Rima pulls together though-leaders that fought their entire lives resisting the silencing of dominant culture; those like Gloria Anzaldua who adhered to their inner truth saying:
For 300 years she has been a slave, a force of cheap labor, colonized by the Spaniard, the Anglo, by her own people (and in Mesoamerica her lot under the Indian patriarchs was not free of wounding). Many times she wished to speak, to act, to protest, to challenge. The odds were heavily against her. She hid her feelings; she hid her truths; she concealed her fire; but she kept stoking the inner flame. She remained faceless and voiceless, but a light shone through her veil of silence.
And though she was unable to spread her limbs and though for her right now the sun has sunk under the earth and there is no moon, she continues to tend the flame. The spirit of the fire spurs her to fight for her own skin and a piece of ground to stand on, a ground from which to view the world — a perceptive, a homeground where she can plumb the rich ancestral roots into her own ample mestiza heart. She waits till the waters are not so turbulent and the mountains not so slippery with sleet. Battered and bruised she waits, her bruises throwing her back upon herself and the rhythmic pulse of the feminine.
Every human being must find a way to be silent. For, silence is a revolutionary and regenerative practice. And this is conveyed through the wisdom of Rima’s words, however difficult it can be to create, one must take responsibility for cultivating a space of transformation. Silence is a door to freedom, and through the noise of our daily lives, the pressure of advancing in our career, and the turmoil perpetually resurfacing within our minds one must become meditative in all our interactions. Our dilemma is that we are trapped in a prison of the self, and we have remained in this prison for to long. Rima uses her contemporaries to deepen our understanding of silence saying:
The authors, of Silence, Feminism, Power, argue that in entering the stillness of silence we might communicate deeply at the edges of sound. Silence allows us the space to breathe. It allows us the freedom of not having to exist constantly in reaction to what is said. Standing in silence allows for that breath, for that reﬂection that can create a space of great healing. We theorize silence as a space of ﬂuidity, non-linearity, and as a sacred, internal space that provides a refuge—especially for nondominant peoples. Silence is a process that allows one to go within before one has to speak or act. This is crucial if our work as activists, writers, and creative artists is to come from a grounded place that connects the spiritual with the political.
It is important to remember that we must balance the two forms of silence: internal (powerful) and external (oppression). Without being able to enter ourselves through silence we will be unable to connect with the healing power that fosters our spiritual growth. For if we do not learn to sit within and embrace our silence, we may become locked into our fears and be unable to embrace the people around us. Afrika Wisdom aims at teaching us spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, and political liberation through a living meditation. We must take meditative principles into every aspect of our lives.
A wonderful book that covers a list of topics: African and Afro-Diasporan cultures, histories, spiritualities, art, music, and literature. Black radical traditions of liberation and consciousness. Anticolonialism and antislavery. Buddhist philosophy. Social and environmental justice. The prison industrial complex and mass incarceration. (Kemetic) yoga, healing, and mindfulness. Intersections with Indigenous culture. Addiction and recovery. Transgenerational trauma
Continue reading Alain De Botton On Happiness.