THE ONLY REVOLUTION - EUROPE PART 7
The car went slowly through all the traffic of the big town with its buses, lorries and cars, and all the noise along the narrow streets. There were endless flats, filled with families, and endless shops, and the town was spreading on all sides, devouring the countryside. At last we came out into the country, the green fields and the wheat and the great patches of flowering mustard, intense in their yellowness. The contrast between the intense green and the yellow was as striking as the contrast between the noise of the town and he quietness of the countryside. We were on the auto route to the north which went up and down the land. And there were woods, streams, and the lovely blue sky.
It was a spring morning, and there were great patches of bluebells in the wood, and beside the wood was the yellow mustard, stretching almost to the horizon; and then the green wheatfield that stretched as far as the eye could see. The road passed villages and towns, and a side road led to a lovely wood with new fresh spring leaves and the smell of damp earth; and there was that peculiar feeling of spring, and the newness of life. You were very close to nature then as you watched your part of the earth - the trees, the new delicate leaf, and the stream that went by. It was not a romantic feeling or an imaginative sensation, but actually you were all this - the blue sky and the expanding earth.
The road led to an old house with an avenue of tall beeches with their young, fresh leaves, and you looked up through them at the blue sky. It was a lovely morning, and the copper-beech was still quite young, though very tall. He was a big man with very large hands, and he filled that enormous chair. He had a kindly face and he was ready to laugh. It is strange how little we laugh. Our hearts are too oppressed, made dull, by the weary business of living, by the routine and the monotony of everyday life. We are made to laugh by a joke or a witty saying, but there is no laughter in ourselves; the bitterness which is man's ripening fruit seems so common. We never see the running water and laugh with it; it is sad to see the light in our eyes grow duller and duller each day; the pressures of agony and despair seem to colour our whole life with their promise of hope and pleasure, which thought cultivates.
He was interested in that peculiar philosophy of the origin and acceptance of silence - which probably he had never come upon. You can't buy silence as you would buy good cheese. You can't cultivate it as you would a lovely plant. It doesn't come about by any activity of the mind or of the heart. The silence that music produces as you listen to it is the product of that music, induced by it. Silence isn't an experience; you know it only when it is over.
Sit, sometime, on the bank of a river and look into the water. Don't be hypnotized by the movement of the water, by the light, the clarity and the depth of the stream. Look at it without any movement of thought. The silence is all round you, in you, in the river, and in those trees that are utterly still. You can't take it back home, hold it in your mind or your hand and think you have achieved some extraordinary state. If you have, then it is not silence; then it is merely a memory, an imagining, a romantic escape from the daily noise of life.
Because of silence everything exists. The music you heard this morning came to you out of silence, and you heard it because you were silent, and it went beyond you in silence.
Only we don't listen to the silence because our ears are full of the chatter of the mind. When you love, and there is no silence, thought makes of it a plaything of society whose culture is envy and whose gods are put together by the mind and the hand. Silence is where you are, in yourself and beside yourself.