Both speaking and not-speaking are human ways of communication. Often communication seems one-sided; only one is doing all the talking. But many such communications are sincere. Often we don’t speak to each other but we understand each other. We communicate feelings. Often we like to be with ourselves. We like to free ourselves from the ‘servile bondage to the world’. Often we like to fill the space with silence. In those moments silence speaks to us. In those moments we feel elated, frustrated, distracted, overwhelmed. Often we feel there is so much to say and there is so little time.
Paul Goodman’s ‘dumb silence’ is representative of slumber and apathy. There is ‘sober silence’. The ‘fertile silence’ heralds the emergence of new thoughts. Then there is ‘alive silence’ of alert perception. The ‘musical silence’ accompanies absorbed activity. The ‘silence of listening’ allows another person speak. The ‘noisy silence’ represents resentment and self-recrimination. The ‘baffled silence’ doesn’t know what to do. The ‘silence of peaceful accord’ brings communion with the cosmos.
Recently I heard about a conclave in Finland where silence was the focal theme. The purpose of the conclave was to deliberate on the strengths of their country. Someone proposed ‘Finnish Silence’ as a national brand. Silence as a resource, like clean water or wild mushrooms, is available in plenty in Finland. One of the conclusions of the conclave was, “In the future, people will be prepared to pay for the experience of silence.” Silence helps us in connecting our inner thoughts to the outer world.