The reason why silence is so disturbing to us [is this]: As soon as we begin to become silent, we experience the relativity of our ordinary everyday mind. With this mind we measure our space and time coordinates, we calculate probabilities and count up our mistakes and successes. It is so useful and familiar a state of mind that we easily think it is all there is to us: our whole mind, our real selves, our full meaning.
Life, love, and death frequently teach us otherwise. We bump into silence at many unexpected turnings on the road of life, in unpredictable ways, in unexpected moments. Its greeting has an effect which is both full of wonder and yet often terrifying. Our thoughts, fears, fantasies, hopes, angers and attractions are all rising and falling moment by moment. We automatically identify ourselves with these fleeting or compulsively recurring states without thinking what we are thinking. When silence teaches us how unreliably transient these states really are, we confront the terrible questions of who we are. In silence we must wrestle with the terrible possibility of our own non-reality.