from The Wisdom of the Shamans
by don Jose Ruiz
In the Toltec tradition, we have a concept called silent knowledge, and cultivating your connection to it can help you find the truth within yourself.
Silent knowledge is a knowing that is beyond the thinking/discerning mind. It is difficult to write or talk about, because language is the main tool of the discerning mind, but I will do my best to explain.
Silent knowledge is the deep, innate wisdom that is in all things. It comes from the interconnectedness of all beings and creatures. It is the wisdom of the universe. For instance, if you’ve ever simply known the answer to a question without any logical way that your brain could have discovered it—like when a mother can feel that her child is in danger or when you know the moment a relative transitions into death—this is all silent knowledge. It is the universal wisdom that has always been at our fingertips, but that we often neglect to tap into, either because we don’t know or have forgotten how.
Being able to see the next right action in any given situation, disregarding the mitote (the noisy voices that clamor for your attention) in your mind—this is silent knowledge, and as you begin to unravel your domestications and live in a way that feels authentic to you, you will find yourself in touch with it. When you develop an awareness of silent knowledge, you begin to shift your attention to it more often, especially when faced with an important choice or decision.
The insights that you get from silent knowledge can come to you in the form of an inspired thought or even an energetic feeling in your body. In either case, when a message comes to you from silent knowledge, you sense a “knowing” that the insight you are receiving is not from your thinking mind.
Furthermore, silent knowledge never carries the energy of hate, resentment, or revenge. If any message you get originates from this type of energy, then you know that this is not silent knowledge, but coming out of the mind’s addiction to suffering instead.
Another means for accessing silent knowledge is to pay attention to your emotions. When it comes to making decisions, our emotions can sometimes be better indictors that our discerning minds.
For instance, let’s say you are trying to make a decision about a situation and one choice may seem correct logically, but you have a nagging feeling that something isn’t right. Let’s say you’ve been offered a new job with better pay, but when you visit with your potential employer, you get a negative vibe inside that you can’t explain.
Rather than dismiss those sensations, it would be wise to recognize them as clues from the realm of silent knowledge. This doesn’t necessarily mean the answer is a “no” and you shouldn’t take the job, but rather that you should do more investigating before making a final decision.
Silent knowledge is available to you right now, and one helpful step to finding it is to practice outer silence and meditation. Meditation is a powerful tool for many spiritual practices. For the Toltec, meditation is used in a variety of ways, but one of the most important benefits is that in meditation we are able to see past the mitote of the mind. Doing so creates an environment within ourselves that allows us to better connect to silent knowledge.
For this meditation, our goal is to open ourselves to silent knowledge. To begin meditating, find a quiet, comfortable space where you won’t be interrupted for the next several minutes. This could be on the back porch while the pets are inside, in the bathtub because the bathroom door is the only one that keeps the kids out, or in an armchair in the study. There is no wrong place or posture for meditation, so experiment and find what works best for you.
Our goal will be to simply open your mind and allow universal wisdom to be present in your awareness. As you become more familiar with meditation, feel free to ask or meditate on certain questions that you need to have answered. By taking questions into your meditation, you will be bringing them to the source of all wisdom and may receive your answers in the form of silent knowledge.
Once you find a quiet place and a comfortable position, close your eyes and take a few moments to settle in. For this meditation, I want you to just listen. Listen to any sounds happening outside of you without putting too much importance on any of them. What do you hear? The wind rustling in the trees? The hum of the refrigerator in the other room? Take it all in, it’s all welcome here. Now I want you to listen to the silence that is just behind the sounds you hear. The silence is there: it’s the space which makes hearing the other sounds possible. Hold that silence in your mind as you find it.
Next I want you to bring your attention inward—listening to the silence that is inside you. Like the silence on the outside, inner silence is underneath all the other sensations you find. The mind will wander and begin to think—because that is the nature of the mind—but when it does, gently try to release those thoughts and find the silence again, and again, and again.
When you first start meditating, you may not be able to hold this silence for long, and that is okay. The key is to judge nothing, but just listen. When the mind wanders, you simply bring it back to listening to the outer world, then the silence on the outside, and then the silence on the inside. If you are new to meditation, begin by doing this for just five minutes at a time. If you like this practice, try to go a little longer and then a little longer each time, building up to thirty minutes or more. Your mind will still wander, but you will find it easier to bring it back to the silence the more you practice.
If you would like to take a question into meditation, ask the question once at the beginning of the meditation and then begin your meditation listening to the outer world and then to the silence behind all the sounds, both without and within. It’s important that you ask your question and then let the question go. In these moments of stillness found in meditation, silent wisdom may come to you regarding your question, or you may find through meditation that the question is unimportant and no longer needs an answer.
Ready to explore more of how The Wisdom of the Shamans can help you find your own inner wisdom? Now available in paperback with a new foreword by Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements and the father of don Jose Ruiz! This title is available from all major retailers and on our website. To learn more about this powerful book, and to read the introduction for free, click here.