Less poetically. Less biographically.
As a matter of experience – lived experience prior to settling into this or that language or mode of expression (science, philosophy, advaita, historical et cetera et cetera et cetera) – what happens when you listen to the birds and to the silence in which their song appears?
As an exercise, a thing done with intention and curiosity, with devotion – what happens?
You hear birds. And the sound of them variegates and complexifies as you listen, becoming not just lovely but wonder-filled. How deeply hearing goes into the two-note Spring song of a chickadee! Dylan goes quiet, Chopin goes quiet, ego goes quiet . . .
And then, between notes, you hear the silence. The rich expanse of it seemingly endless and utterly open. Oh, maybe there are other sounds, too, at first – the river in the distance, the traffic at even greater distance. Maybe the neighbors, maybe a dog.
But all these sounds – without exception – stand aside their antithesis, silence.
You listen to the silence. You give attention to it. What happens? Isn’t it almost alive? Doesn’t it almost feel like something always about to give birth to sound? This sound then that sound? This melody then that? Isn’t silence intelligent and creative? Isn’t it alive?
As you go deeper into it, you begin to see that if there were not those sounds, then there would not be this silence. Therefore, silence is not the source of sound! Whatever the source of sound is, it is the source of silence, too. What a discovery!
In this way, you begin to sense how silence and sound are like positive and negative – charges, integers, images – which, when brought together, dissolve into . . .
Into emptiness. Stillness. Consciousness. God.
Though as soon as you name it, you are in retreat. And it’s okay to retreat – God is not at war with you. Emptiness doesn’t care whether you stay or go. Consciousness doesn’t mind what you do or leave undone.
But still. When you name it, you also bring forth all it isn’t.
You don’t have to do that anymore. You can; you don’t have to.
And see how in all of this – this wondrous encounter with Void, this penetration into the Sacred Heart of Christ, this union with God, all the holy secrets and mysteries unraveling at the Mind’s altar – there are still birds singing, and in between the song there are still these soft silences.
And there is still the one who – hearing them – loves them. Loves them. And the love streams, pours, flows – now grateful, now amazed, now studious, now amused . . .
Only this, of course. Always only this. But also – oh my Lord – this.