True Knowledge Does Not Come Through Learning But Through Inner Silence

Albert Einstein got his insights not so much from thinking as from being silent...
A lake at sunset to experience silence

There is a huge silence inside each of us that beckons us into itself, and the recovery of our own silence can begin to teach us the language of heaven. - Meister Eckhart

I got in my car after a meeting last Saturday and suddenly felt a nudge to be silent for a few moments before starting the engine. Sinking into my seat, I took a deep breath and looked at the beautifully tattered clouds over my head.

After a few seconds, a desire arose in my mind: “I want to see water.” I know this inner voice quite well to trust its guidance, so I turned on the ignition and without further ado, drove straight to the nearby park with a big lake in the middle.

The park was empty except for a couple of fishermen and a boat pulling a tube full of children at a distance. I stopped the car and rolled down the windows. A huge silence poured into the car from outside. The water was dazzling under the bright afternoon sun, undulating softly to the quiet tune of the breeze.

The ducks huddled blissfully by the edge of the water, going up and down with the waves. As I watched this silent dance of the elements, the silence in me awakened and started speaking. Or singing. Silently. Making perfect sense without saying a word.

Why do Elves love water?

Quiet river with rocks

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, there is a beautiful myth about the awakening of the Elves. The Elves were not exactly made; they were awakened from a deep sleep by Eru Ilúvatar (God) near the bay of Cuivienen.

“Many waters flowed down thither from heights in the east, and the first sound that was heard by the Elves was the sound of water falling over stone.”

The first sound the Elves heard after their awakening was water falling over stone. Since then, the sound of water and the cry of the gulls bring up in the heart of every Elf “the unquiet of Ulmo,” the yearning for the Sea.

This “unquiet of Ulmo,” or the longing for the sound of water, is an echo of The Music of Ilúvatar. Tolkien’s world was first sung into existence. It was made in The Music.

And Ulmo was one of the chief Ainur (Powers) whose beloved theme was Water. After the different parts of The Music took shape in the visible world, Ulmo fell in love with Water even more and descended into Arda (the created realm) to be the Lord of Waters.

It is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet the echo of the Music of the Ainur more than in any substance else that is in this Earth; and many of the Children of Iluvatar hearken still unsated to the voices of the Sea, and yet know not for what they listen.

What is inner silence?

Green hills

Tolkien’s myths are a powerful metaphor for what each and every person knows in their heart as they recover their own inner silence. Sooner or later, it allows us to hear the music of the elements, the music of the spheres. Water starts singing. Clouds start dancing. Trees start whispering. Heavens begin speaking. The elements come alive.

Just as Tolkien’s Elves were awakened by the song of water falling over stone, so we are awakened by our inner silence — the Music of the primordial Void. “There is a huge silence inside each one of us that beckons us into itself,” said Meister Eckhart. 

Silence is the music of God in which the worlds were made. It is that prehistoric Void that is the source of everything that was created. 

“And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” Genesis 1:1–3.

Every element of the created world still incarnates this primordial Silence and echoes it back to a receptive heart. Do I hear it beckoning? 

How do you develop inner stillness?

A pine tree on a rock

Every created substance is an echo of The Music. Every blade of grass, every tree, and every stone are the incarnation of The Music. They are the eternal Logos revealing themselves under the guise of the visible elements. Every created thing sings to the tune of The Silence from which it came.  

According to Meister Eckhart, inner silence, or inner stillness, is recovered not through any effort or “addition” on our part but rather through the process of gradual subtraction.

"Everything is meant to be lost so that the soul may stand in unhampered nothingness."

If I want to transcend the world of multiplicity and commune with the One, I need to recover the inner silence — the Void in which the world was born. Then, in this unhampered nothingness, I will start hearing the Music of the One, incarnated in the many. The fragmented world will disappear, and all things will become one. Just as it says: “God will be all in all.”

“All that a man has here externally in multiplicity is intrinsically One. Here all blades of grass, wood, and stone, all things are One. This is the deepest depth.” Meister Eckhart

Silence beckons us to return to the One from the world of multiplicity. Grass, wood, stone are silently calling. We hearken unsated unto their voices yet know not for what we listen. But ultimately, we listen to our true selves.

What is the new name in Revelation 2:17?

a book with streams of water

St. Catherine used to run through the streets of Genoa shouting, “My deepest me is God! My deepest me is God!” We too hear the call of the grass and know in the heart of hearts that it is calling out our secret name. It is the name written by God on a white stone, and no one knows it except the one who receives it.

“I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” Revelation 2:17.

That new name is our essence and the unique theme that we play in the Music of God. There is a mysterious passage in The Silmarillion that foreshadows the ultimate goal of all creation:

Never since have the Ainur made any music like to this music, though it has been said that a greater still shall be made before Iluvatar by the choirs of the Ainur and the Children of Iluvatar after the end of days. Then the themes of Iluvatar shall be played aright, and take Being in the moment of their utterance, for all shall then understand fully his intent in their part, and each shall know the comprehension of each, and Iluvatar shall give to their thoughts the secret fire, being well pleased.

This magnificent prophecy refers to the recovery of the true Self — our secret Name. The Music of the Ainur may be great, but there is a Music greater still than that of water, grass, and stone.

It is the Music of the Ainur and the Children of Iluvatar together when each one fully knows his or her secret name — the “secret fire” of Illuvatar — and joins the choir by playing his or her unique theme. Only then shall the themes of Illuvatar be played aright.

More than that, they will take Being in the moment of their utterance because Illuvatar will give to their thoughts the secret fire. This is the essence of co-creation — by becoming who we truly are each one of us becomes a unique theme in the Music of God.

What does it mean to transcend duality?

Each theme, then, joins in the celestial harmony of many voices playing one Symphony in which all duality is transcended. Many will become One without losing their unique Being. On the contrary, the more one they become in The Music, the more unique their part will be.

The more I know my secret name, the more I am one with the Other. Duality is transcended in my Name — the more I weave my theme into The Music, the more I discover who I truly am and what I am made for. By becoming one with others I become more of myself.

What made Einstein a genius?


Hearing the music of silence is not a matter of effort, adding something, becoming someone, or learning new things. As a matter of fact, it’s all about letting go of effort, subtracting, unbecoming, and unlearning.

Just as Meister Eckhart said:

"Become pure until you you neither are or have this or that. Then you are omnipresent and, being neither this nor that, are all things."

In this pure inner nothingness, we hear our secret Name spoken to us without words, become co-creators with God, and start breathing life into things  giving them Being in the moment of their utterance. 

Albert Einstein must have been deeply in tune with the power of inner silence when he said:

"I think 99 times and I find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me."

I am a translator and blogger who believes that all change comes from inside out, not from outside in.

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