Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Depths of Silence

The Depths of Silence

Most people find it very difficult to sit still and study or to do something that requires concentration. When we were students, we had to force ourselves to study because the pressure of examinations was very great and we were driven by our fear of failure. Exam season was a time of great mental pressure for most of us during our schooldays. When we finally left school, we vowed never to subject ourselves to that kind of torture again.

But still life is an endless series of examinations. Even if we do not have to mug for exams anymore, the everyday tasks that we do also requires concentration and clearness of mind. The inability to recognize that is actually a cause of a lot of our miseries. It is the cause of a lot of shoddy work and a lack of creativity in the corporate world. I even suspect that many executives have actually forgotten or do not realize what real thinking is.

We are so used to operating in this "degraded mode", that most of us forget what it is like being in a concentrated state of mind. We consciously recoil from getting into that state of stillness and clarity because our hyperactive minds abhor a vacuum. We must always have something--noise, visuals, random thoughts--filling our mental screen. When the mind is blank, we are scared. We think we have no idea what we are supposed to say or do. We think we are being indecisive.

Decision-making is not thinking. We should not confuse the two. We decide on something based on what we have learned and experienced before in the past; the level of thinking involved is usually very superficial. Sometimes decisions are even based on emotion. That's how most executives operate everyday.

When it comes to situations where real thinking is required--an original idea is demanded, something needs to be created out of nothing--very few can excel. And this is not due to the fact that we lack the ability to do so--it is actually because we have forgotten that there are deeper levels of the mind that we have not tapped. These deeper levels only reveal themselves when we are in a deeply concentrated state of mind. And most of us never ever bother to enter that state.

When is the mind considered to be "concentrated"?

When we can actually "hear" silence itself. When we can "feel" thoughts arising from the depths of our subconscious in a very granular manner. Only when all mental noise is completely silenced, can we drink from this wellspring of creativity deep within us.

But unfortunately we fear silence so much. We equate that to loneliness, boredom and dullness. And because of that we are forever wallowing on the surface of the water, being trashed about by random waves, when the real treasures of the ocean are lying deep down in the stillness of its bottom, undiscovered.

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