When my clients ask me, what should I do? What should I do?
There's an inner turmoil inside me. I cannot cope anymore. It's too much. I'm overwhelmed.
What should I do?
I give them the following advice.
Go to your desert. Listen to your inner silence.
These are religious metaphors and I'm not a religious man. I don't believe in God. I don't believe in angels. And I don't adhere to any religion.
But I don't discard the baby with the bathwater.
There is unfathomable wisdom to be found in religious scriptures. And God is a useful metaphor for many internal psychological processes.
So in this video, I'm going to make an exception and I'm going to talk to you about God and religion and going to the desert and listening to your inner silence.
I want to start with a quote from 1 Kings chapter 19 verses 11 to 13.
He said, go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord. For the Lord is about to pass by.
Now there was a great wind so strong that it was splitting mountains, this wind, breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, the fire. But the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, a sound of sheer silence.
When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and he went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
Then there came a voice to him that said, what are you doing here, Elijah? What are you all doing here?
At the point that you stand in your life, next to the cave that is your past, what are you doing here? Are you waiting for the wind? Are you waiting for the earthquake? The fire? Are you waiting for this phenomena to split mountains and break rocks in pieces? Are you waiting for a transformation from the outside? Some kind of force of nature, benevolent, of course, who will take care of you and save you and guide you and transform you.
This is not a solution. The Lord is not in this phenomena.
You remember where the Lord is? I'll read it to you again.
And after the fire, a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and he went out and stood at the entrance of the cave because he realized, of course, that God was in the silence. Caves and deserts and mountain tops. These have always been the haunts of holy men, of saints and of prophets, people who had claimed to be in direct contact with God or the way he manifests on earth, theophany and epiphany. This is where they went.
They didn't go to casinos. They didn't go to libraries. They didn't go to the city, the big city. They went to mountain tops. They went to deserts. They went to caves because there they could listen to the sound of sheer silence. Isn't it amazing that sheer silence? Silence has a sound, sound all its own. God speaks through time, through space, through being.
But above all, God speaks through silence. God said, when he was asked by Moses to describe himself, he said, I shall be what I shall be.
It is often mistranslated, I am what I am. That's not what God said. God said, I shall be what I shall be. In other words, God is a process of becoming, not of presence, not of existence, not of being only, not of stasis, not of stagnation, not of inertia. No. God is flow, is motion, is change, is transformation, is becoming. I shall be what I shall be.
And what shall God be?
Ultimately, the theophany of God, the manifestation of God, the sound of sheer silence.
So here's my advice. Just stop acting for a while. Stop it. Sit still for one minute. Close your eyes for one second. Don't even contemplate. Just be.
Monks go to mountaintops and the big religious figures. Moses, Jesus, Muhammad.
When they sought self-transformation, they did not act. They did not act. They went to the desert. They escaped the city and its numerous distractions, its numerous temptations, its numerous offerings, and the constant push to be active.
The curse of modern civilization, act or not be.
They went to the desert because in the desert, even if you want to, you cannot act. There's nothing to act upon.
So you cannot do anything in the desert, but wait and be yourself and wait for some bush to burn for you, for some devil to confront you, for some angel to talk to you.
The bush burned for Moses. Jesus bested the devil, and angel Gabriel spoke to Muhammad in a cave.
These are all transformational processes.
Moses, who was a playboy, Egyptian prince, learned humility. God told him, this is holy ground. Take your shoes off. Humility.
Jesus confronted his dark side, his complexes, possibly his insanity and overcame it, the devil.
Muhammad was able to converse with angels. In other words, with the best part of himself and the best part of humanity and the best part of the world and to bring back a message of redemption and absolution and hope.
There, in deserts and caves and mountain tops, with no one around, you are faced with yourself. There's no escape. There's no excuse. There's no diversion. There's no lie. There's no pretension. Just you and you and you.
There you can cope. You can think. You can change. You can listen to the voice of God.
In the desert, you're forced, finally, to listen to God by listening to yourself. The sheer sound of silence outside speaks to you from the inside, and you go and stand at the entrance to the cave, and it is God who asks you, what are you doing here? What do you want? Who are you, Elijah?
So, if you want to heal, if you want to transform, if you want to hope again, if you want to sing, if you want to belong, create a mental desert around you.
In today's world, it's difficult to find a real desert to be in. All the caves are occupied, and on the mountain tops, there are television antennas. The world has abandoned us because we had abandoned nature, but we can still create a mental desert, our own private desert, our own cave, and climb to the mountain top that is us, our soul, if you wish.
Close your eyes. No social media. No news. No people. No Zoom conferences. Nothing. Close your eyes and wait for this silence to talk to you. Wait for what many of you call the voice of God, your inner God, maybe. Wait for the voice. Wait for the voice. Don't drown the voice in action. See who is talking to you. Listen what you are being told, what is being said to you. Think of nothing else. Think not at all, actually. Just let it flow through you.
We are not listening. Even religion, and I'm not an adherent of any religion as you know, even religion is a dialogue. It's not a monologue, it's a dialogue with God.
But all of us, we are just talking all the time. We are not listening. We are just talking.
Never ever receiving. We are too busy being something, even being religious. We are too busy being us.
And this us, being us is a simulacrum. It's a simulation. It's fake. It's, as Sartre called it, inauthentic.
We are not real. We are renditions. We are phantasms. We are figments of sick imagination.
And so we are not listening. We need to be passive for once. Just be passive.
In Islam, it's a form of supplication. The word Islam means kind of submissive supplication. But also making peace with this supplication. Just be passive. Submit yourself in a good sense. Submit yourself by emptying yourself, by allowing a word, anyone's word, the word of God, to flow through you. Become a vessel.
In the Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, we have this concept of a vessel. A vessel is a container. Become a container. Let the silence and the message of the silence flow through you. Empty yourself.
If you are full of yourself, if you are full of information, if you are full of distractions, if you are full of occupations, if you are full of business and actions, if you are full, nothing can come in. Nothing can flow through you. Your fullness renders you empty because you can receive nothing new and you cannot change. You are dead when you are full.
Full people, people who have reached up to the brim, they're dead. You need to let this flow through you.
And you do not ask for reciprocal action from God or any other universal principle. There's no reciprocal action. It is a gift given on unto you.
Tomorrow I will discuss the rejection of life as a form of blasphemy and sacrilege.
But this silence is a gift given unto you. And this silence speaks louder than any words and conveys more than any therapist can.
You want to heal. Create a mental desert. Suspend yourself. Cut off the world. Sit back. Close your eyes and listen to the silence.