Into Great Silence: Approaching the Divine Mystery through Prayer
By Tasha Friedman
Eventually, the questions disappear. Slowly, as the echoes die out, or abruptly as if someone pressed “mute.” Wordless, directionless, with no border or edges, the world silently pours into itself. You pour into yourself.
When you stop asking questions, you no longer need answers, and there is only peace, peace, peace stretching out to every horizon.
You forget your name. You forget where you are and why you are there. You forget being there at all. You forget the sun and the moon and the difference between light and dark. You forget both the path and the goal.
From Words to Silence
You may start to pray with many words. At first, your soul might only be grateful to have found an audience, a sympathetic ear that will absorb everything without asking for explanations or passing judgments.
God listens. When you have no one to talk to or something you can’t bear to share with another human being, that Stillness receives you with so much softness and grace.
In this way, God is the best audience, patiently waiting until the storm has spun itself out and you are ready to listen, too.
And what will you hear then?
Nothing, absolutely nothing, from all directions and out to every horizon.
So the prayer becomes quieter. Sometimes before going altogether silent, it becomes more simple. “Please, show me more.” “Thank you.” Or just a sigh: “Oh, Beloved.”
When that too goes away, you are alone and looking God directly in the eye.
It’s the only way. To see the One you love, you must see nothing else. If you hold even a little bit to the world, you will not see. You must have eyes only for this.
But the Beloved is so sweet, so merciful, and so compassionate that He will accept anything you have to offer along the way. A leaf, a flower, a fruit, a bit of water… And also your attachments, your contractions, your wayward desires—all the things that drag you outside of yourself.
Whatever you can’t let go of on your own, lay down that burden on the altar of the Heart and let it be burned. “Please take this, my love, and this one, and this one too, and take all of me…”
Nothing has to be rejected or excluded—nothing can be—but held so tenderly, like a baby bird in the palm of your hand.
Surrender to the Mystery
Offering your life to the Heart—that all-compassing prayer swallows the world and everything in it. The silence of this prayer is alive, the impulse within the beating of your heart, which turns you constantly in search of life itself. This same silence lies awake within every note of music.
This silence has no opposite; it cannot be disturbed by any noise. But you cannot experience it unless you are it.
If you speak, you lose it.
If you move, you lose it.
So say nothing, even in the most underground currents of your mind. Let nothing within you waver, not even a twitch of your inner eye. Make no judgments or assertions, no understanding, no desire. Let nothing stand in opposition to anything else.
Existence does not deny non-existence. The Void, which is lacking nothing.
No beginning and no end. Not this world nor any other.
Eventually, the world comes back. Objects take on their edges again, and you reappear as a lovelorn devotee, with a human heart and human hands folded in prayer, bowing down to the mystery.
Who am I? What am I searching for? What is consciousness? What is the mind? Am I on the right path?
Still no answers, but as you open your eyes and drink in the freshness of the world, these questions are like candles in the light of the full sun.
Tasha is a Hridaya Yoga teacher and a frequent contributor to our blog. You can read all of her posts here.