It's funny how you read about an idea that makes a huge impact on you and then that same idea pops up in everything else you are reading. That's what has happened to me about the subject of silence/meditation. It's not that I was unfamiliar with the concept, it's just that I have a new depth of understanding of it because it is being presented to me from several different sources.
For years now I have been upset by the intrusion of electronic media into my daily life. My first memory of being disturbed by it was at an aquarium in New Orleans. I'm guessing this was in the early 90s. We had to wait in long lines, and I was dismayed to find television sets hanging above our heads. I did not want my thoughts to be directed against my will. Now this electronic intrusion has progressed to the point of being attacked by commercials via the gas pump.
Here is a marvelous quote from The Chosen by Chaim Potok. Danny Saunders, a college-age Hasidic Jew, explains silence to his friend Reuven:
"You can listen to silence, Reuven. I've begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own. It talks to me sometimes. I feel myself alive in it. It talks. And I can hear it. . .You have to want to listen to it, and then you can hear it. It has a strange, beautiful texture. It doesn't always talk. Sometimes--sometimes it cries, and you can hear the pain of the world in it. It hurts to listen to it then. But you have to."
This idea is expanded in A Guide for the Perplexed by E. F. Schumacher. I'll write about it next time.