Listen With a Still Heart

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Above all, he learned from it how to listen, to listen with a still heart, with a waiting, open soul, without passion, without desire, without judgment, without opinions. — Herman Hesse, Siddhartha

“Be silent or let thy words be worth more than silence.” – Pythagoras

“Be silent or let thy words be worth more than silence.”  – Pythagoras

“We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn. It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox.” – Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

Leon Spilliaert

Leon Spilliaert

“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”- Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

Ralph Eugene Meatyard

Ralph Eugene Meatyard

“My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence.”- Edith Sitwell

Edith Sitwell

Edith Sitwell

“Quiet is peace. Tranquility. Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life. Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it. – Amir” – Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

‘Stargazer’ - Sam Wolfe Connelly

‘Stargazer’ – Sam Wolfe Connelly

“For now she need not think of anybody. She could be herself, by herself. And that was what now she often felt the need of – to think; well not even to think. To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others… and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures.” – Virginia Woolf – To the Lighthouse

René Magritte - La vie privée, (The private life) 1946

René Magritte – La vie privée, (The private life) 1946

“I need to be alone. I need to ponder my shame and my despair in seclusion; I need the sunshine and the paving stones of the streets without companions, without conversation, face to face with myself, with only the music of my heart for company.” – Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

Fred Stein, 1946

Fred Stein, 1946

“In Silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.” – Rumi

Félix Thiollier (1842-1914): Figure contemplant les monts du Menzenc, 1895-1905.

Félix Thiollier (1842-1914): Figure contemplant les monts du Menzenc, 1895-1905.

“I don’t think…” then you shouldn’t talk, said the Hatter.”- Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

“Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.” – William S. Burroughs

“Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.” – George Eliot

“It is always assumed by the empty-headed, who chatter about themselves for want of something better, that people who do not discuss their affairs openly must have something to hide.” – Honore de Balzac, Pere Goriot

Nancy Cunard-Curtis Moffat, c. 1925

Nancy Cunard-Curtis Moffat, c. 1925

“He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.” – Elbert Hubbard

Robert George Harris

Robert George Harris

“If there were a little more silence, if we all kept quiet…maybe we could understand something.” – Federico Fellini

Julien Spianti, Elsewhere

Julien Spianti, Elsewhere

 

Solitary drinker Lafayette Hotel Greenwich Village New York 1948 Photo: Berenice Abbott

Solitary drinker Lafayette Hotel Greenwich Village New York 1948 Photo: Berenice Abbott

Where each noise helps only to make the silence appear by displacing it (Marcel Proust)

“As for me, I feel myself living and thinking in a room where everything is the creation and the language of lives profoundly different from mine, of a taste opposite to mine, where I find nothing of my conscious thought, where my imagination is excited by feeling itself plunged into the depths of the non-ego; I feel happy only when setting foot—on the Avenue de la Gare, on the Port, or on the Place de l’Eglise—in one of those provincial hotels with cold, long corridors where the wind from outside contends successfully with the efforts of the heating system, where the detailed geographic map of the district is still the sole ornament on the walls, where each noise helps only to make the silence appear by displacing it, where the rooms keep a musty perfume which the open air comes to wash, but does not eliminate, and which the nostrils inhale a hundred times in order to bring it to the imagination, which is enchanted with it, which has it pose like a model to try to recreate it with all the thoughts and remembrances that it contains…”
― Marcel Proust

James Hart Dyke

image: James Hart Dyke

I Found You Among Noble Things

Readers

Alba

 (‘Infinite things desired, lofty visions’)

I found you among noble things,

I knew you among true spaces,

you come bringing the world’s depths,

hold in your hands the mind’s future.

You were not meant for dull being,

and I long to sweep away,

all this time, and all this silence,

find you again among noble things.

A. S. Kline © 2006 All Rights Reserved

 

To fill the Silence

“To deliver oneself up, hand oneself over, entrust oneself completely to the silence of a wide landscape of woods and hill, or sea, or desert: to sit still while the sun comes up over the land and fills its silences with light. To pray and work in the morning and to labour in meditation in the evening when night falls upon that land and when the silence fills itself with darkness and with stars.

This is a true and special vocation. There are few who are willing to belong completely to such silence, to let it soak into their bones, to breathe nothing but silence, to feed on silence, and to turn the very substance of their life into a living and vigilant silence.”

—Thomas Merton

 

image František Kobliha