Sunday, May 9, 2010

Why Take a Vow of Silence?

I am taking a vow of silence today, for the second time in my life. For me it is all about trust, establishing the heart connections I need in my life to keep my integrity intact. If someone cannot meet me here, then we will simply have to meet in spirit, however that works.

The first time I ever took a vow of silence many years ago (1993) on the job. There was a lot of tyranny going on in the workplace that was dividing and oppressing people. Since I was in a central position (the receptionist for the institution!) I informed everyone I’d be taking a vow of silence. I let them know I would be mirroring their oppression right back at them… Until we got some procedures in place to give people a voice.

It took about 3 days to let everyone know (with notes) I was taking this vow. Of course they all laughed. As I was working the front phones and the desk, I still had to do my job, but only spoke as it was necessary. People stopped by my desk, trying to provoke me into conversation. Each person presumed they were an exception. I would just look at them. After 14 days (which was a strain, and extremely difficult for everyone) people were irate. It was difficult, because it seemed somehow I was adding to their suffering.

Looking back, I now know I was just mirroring and reflecting their “stuff”. I was no longer participating in the game of searching for approval, or people-pleasing. I saw into their lack of courage to speak up for themselves; to take a stand in who they are. To stop being superficial, self-absorbed, narcissistic. To quit returning to their words like a puppy returns to its own vomit.

It was just a matter of days before they were all complaining. They eventually went to the management to make it stop. There was really nothing management could do. Eventually they called a meeting, and gave everyone a voice.

There are a lot of people out there who are in pain, and who aren’t dealing with it. They just go on to treat situations and other people as being “disposable”. I am sorry for the younger generations… Because I know you all feel this more acutely in your lives. Now it’s just exaggerated to extremes via our technology – the internet, texting, facebook, etc.

Let people clearly know about your vow. (This may take a few days.) You may also invite people to leave messages for you, but inform them you will not be responding until you are able to FEEL the investment on your commitment to keep silence until the energy is balanced. Divest yourself of the technology; boycott it, if necessary. Stop pouring your money and resources into dead-ends.

We all need something more in our lives… Some of the Buddhist values a vow of silence is going to teach you: more patience, more compassion; deeper connections in person, and at the level of the heart. And until I start feeling that, I’m kicking in with a new vow of silence, today. It may be the only way to gain someone’s trust, when they are too busy, you know, acting-out as a human-doing...? And not a human being.

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