The Theosophical Forum – May 1939

SILENCE — H. T. Edge

"The things which are supposed to have made life easier, such as the telegraph, telephone, typewriter, motor-car, lift, and so on, have really made it vastly more strenuous."

So says "Artifex" in the Manchester Guardian Weekly, and goes on to say that prayer and silence are needed. The more labor-saving devices we invent, the more we labor. Make a man's work easier, and instead of resting he does more work. If he can go anywhere in as many hours as it used to take days, he does not save the hours, but travels farther. Give him a shorthand typist, and he writes ten times as many letters. Comforts and luxuries become necessities, so that we become more dependent on circumstances and apparatus. We invent so many new cures, drugs, and treatments, that nothing can keep pace with them — except indeed the innumerable diseases that are invented every day. Our ancestors may not have had the cures, but at all events they did not have the complaints.

We are chasing our tail, and the faster we go, the farther we have to go. The thing is not merely accidental or temporary; there is a wrong principle behind it. We are like a machine without a governor, and will go on accelerating until the wheels fly apart. We are like a constitution that is being consumed by phthisis, with every function running full blast and the central vitality wasting away.

And in our very efforts to cure this disease we use the same wrong principle over again; we try to cure the disease by more of the thing that causes it, as a man might try to overcome the effects of drink by more drink. The process will end in a cataclysm unless we can adopt an entirely different principle. It will not be adopted until we are driven to it by sheer necessity; but it will help much to have it ready when the time comes. We are living in an atmosphere of constant stimulation, living in externals, living in sensory experience. Silence and solitude are unbearable to one living in such an atmosphere. A man spends his life strenuously in doing and achieving; and when he gets old and can strive no more, and finds he has gotten nowhere, he turns on the gas because he cannot stand being alone with himself; and leaves a note to save his face.

The silence! Cultivate the silence, love it. Learn to know the fullness of the seeming void and you will realize the voidness of the seeming full. Theosophy teaches a man not to be afraid of himself, not to try and run away from himself, but to know himself. This does not mean that we must become hermits:

Both action and inaction may find room in thee; thy body agitated, thy mind tranquil, thy Soul as limpid as a mountain lake. — The Voice of the Silence

Theosophical University Press Online Edition