25 Jun JAVIER MELLONI’S PROLOGUE: THE POWER OF SILENCE
Some experiences happen. Some happen to us. Yet some of them go right through us. So did this gust of Silence – unsought, unexpected – go through Yolande the day she turned forty. And it left her established in that Silence ever since. What kind of silence does this experience bring about that anchors one to Silence? The answer to this question lies in this book, which springs from that state where Yolande remains established.
According to all spiritual traditions, this Silence-Presence has been considered both a topic of discussion and a goal to achieve. But something is happening more and more frequently that is perhaps a gift bestowed on our times, but that we are still incapable of identifying. Something that in times past would come to happen as a result of a long process of ascesis is suddenly bursting into our lives. Perhaps it has been taking place all along without anyone noticing. Or perhaps it was imbued, more often than not, with the prevailing religiousness of the moment. Nowadays, however, the frontiers between religion, spirituality, mysticism, transcendence and the inner world are becoming ever vaguer. Simultaneously, a greater variety of frames of interpretation are currently at our disposal to explain this fact. Yolande’s experience could be classified as the now known as “non-dualistic experiences”, and she, as one of today’s neo-advaita authors.
¿What characterizes this experience that ends up becoming a permanent state of consciousness?
Firstly, it is something that bursts out by itself – that is not built up. It is beyond the individual self. Yet, simultaneously, it embraces the whole of the recipient, and transcends it. In the words of another woman from seven centuries ago, Marguerite Porete: “For you. Within you. But without you.” In other words, it goes through one. It is an experience that both centers and decenters the individual.
It endures through time. Something gets opened, leaving a permanent caesura – an opening that will never close again.
From this opening, everything is perceived in a new manner, with an all-embracing, all-accepting awareness.
From that moment on, the recipient ceases being the reference point and becomes a mere witness to this Silence underlying each and every event.
It leads one to a life of simplicity, of unattachement to outer things and to one’s self-image, free from fame and wealth.
Paradoxically, what seems to be a depersonalizing experience becomes one of suprapersonalization, as its human repository reaches its highest good by being let go of itself.
Let us have a glimpse of Yolande’s own words:
I am pure Energy, Silence. At the same time, I am that point of light that illumines movement. I do not perceive things through my senses – I am perception itself. I don’t look through my eyes – I am the act of looking itself. I am the Witness, the light that brings life to name and form. But I am beyond seeing and witnessing.
That speaking I is not Yolande’s, but what remains once both the social and individual egos have receded. Yolande herself speaks of two retractions or disconnections that need being learned: getting rid of the identification with “I am such and such” (first name, last name, personality, etc.), after which there just remains a mere “I am”; but the latter must also get disconnected because it itself implies a separate entity. Thus begins the participating in what can be given many names – or none. Yolande sometimes refers to it as “Global Awareness”, which is but one more way to point to that Silence or Presence which, in Ramana Maharshí’s or Nisargadatta’s Advaita tradition, is explained in terms of stepping from “i am” to “I Am”. That capitalized “I” represents the univesral Consciousness which the individual is but a mere infinitessimal part of.
Whether or not my eyes are open, I cannot forget that absolute obviousness that everything is within me – the sky, the stars and the whole universe. Once you are anchored in that Silence, you can still watch movement. However, Silence’s point of view rules over all the others. Once you have seen what you really are, you cannot forget it: my body and the world are within me – not me within them.
That which western philosophy gets to grasp or formulate as the fruit of intense speculation springs up, in this case, in a spontaneous, diaphanous and unconditional manner. Yet, sudden experiences such as Yolande’s both fascinate and perturb the individual. ¿Why do they not manifest in those people who have spent their whole lives meditating, while they suddenly do in others? In Yolande’s own words:
Perhaps this experience of awakening manifested in me because I was not a complicated person. I had never actually wondered what such an awakening would be like. I didn’t even know that such a possibility existed!
Another question that often comes up is about the method. ¿Which practice can actually take us to such a state? As it manifested in Yolande without any method whatsoever, she cannot recommend any, as is the case with all of today’s neo-Advaita authours except Eckhart Tolle. All she says is that her teaching consists of expressing her own experience. “My method is LIFE or LIFE is my method”. And she adds:
It all boils down to allowing LIFE – and not “our life” – to lead us. LIFE is incrediblly powerful. It has the power of Existence. Trusting LIFE means clearly seeing that you – the individual – are utterly powerless, and allowing the power of Silence manifest itself. Trusting is a wordless acceptance that grows within us whenever we let LIFE take care of LIFE.
However, we can be even more insiduous or demanding, and wonder: How can we ascertain that such an experience is real? How consistent is it? If the method is LIFE, only in LIFE itself can one find the discriminative criteria to judge such an experience. All religious traditions agree that only the fruit of a spiritual experience can validate its attributes and qualities. I resort to these traditions because the newest is, simultaneously, the oldest – and we need both of them to nourish ourselves. In Buddhist terms, this experience should lead to wisdom and compassion, and, as one goes further, it manifests as the six paramitas (great virtues): generosity; honesty; patience; energy; concentration; and full awareness. In Hindu terms, it manifests as imperturbability; forgiveness; self-control; honesty; purity (cleanliness); control of the senses; discrimination; wisdom; truthfulness; and absence of anger (Manusmriti, VI, 92). In Christian terms, the fruits of the Spirit are: joy; peace; patience; benevolence; kindness; faith; gentleness; and self-control (Gal 5, 22-23). In Sufi terms, it implies: fanâ; egolessness; fortitude; and poverty.
Well, Yolande does ooze a lot of it all – something one can be perceived just by spending a short time with her. Dolors Martorell, the co-author of this book, has wonderfully put into words in her prologue what happens in Yolande’s presence: silence expands; one gets infected by her silence. She writes: “One cannot grasp her words. Trying to understand them with the mind is like trying to soak up the ocean with a handkerchief”. This book should not be read with the mind but with another organ capable of grasping much more: the heart. The heart as conceived by all spiritual traditions: the act of opening our individual ego to that absolute Presence, that global Awareness. Regardless of the names we may attach to It, Yolande’s words echo that Depth, that transforming Silence.
Reading this book – as well as her two other previous ones – involves a willingness to be touched by those sparks of Silence-Presence that have overpowered Yolande. She offers them with the simplicity of one who knows herself to be the recipient of a gift that she does not own, but that she wishes to share with others out of her conviction that It is everyone’s destiny.