In the silence the self dissolves. Let's take a closer look at the meaning, as well as the difficulties that can go along with it and, why it still makes sense!
Buddhists say that there is no self, no inner, unchanging being in human. The word soul is not used here, but the term Buddha nature is.
Other religions do not speak about the self, but emphasize the soul that is inherent in human and other beings. Is soul and self to be equated here?
Non-religious worldviews and Western psychology also speak of the self as well as the ego.
It is to be noted that there is not the one Buddhism, the one Christianity or another religion as well as not the one psychology!
Defining these terms is therefore not easy, especially since the same words are sometimes used in different contexts and meanings.
However, if one deals with silent meditation, one is inevitably confronted with these concepts. Because, when everything becomes still, thought and body sensations become quiet, what remains? At some point, there comes a point where the "self" and this unknown silence face each other, not only figuratively but felt. How does it continue then?
In the eastern-influenced form of meditation of Buddhist Zen, it is said that one should surrender to emptiness. How the meditator can allow this, there are different ways, mental or physical aids.
Even in Christian meditative contemplation, the individual self dissolves. Here it becomes one with God or the divine permeates the human being completely, so that he is absorbed in it. The path that leads to this is similar, though somewhat different. Here, the meditator consciously contemplates a counterpart, God, and then surrenders the self to it.
Non-religious forms of meditation, on the other hand, which consciously exclude spirituality, religion or esotericism, keep more to the surface. They remain in the dual world. For if they were to go more into the depths, they would inevitably touch the realm in which questions would arise about the self, the non-self, and the divine that pervades life, that brings forth life. Because the life is perceptible and silence is just not silent, but permeated by life.
So, both emptiness and God penetrate, take over, extinguish in the deep silence meditation this self, which the meditator assumed to consist of. Why should one desire this? What is the purpose? The motivation may be different. One seeks God, comfort, another wisdom, still others love or a deeper meaning in life.
What most beings have in common is that they strive for contentment, avoid suffering or find deeper transformation in it, and possess a certain curiosity as well as interest in the other person. Negative stress and experiences may distract the being from this striving. But what brings contentment? It is said that giving makes happier than being given. And so altruism seems to be a driving factor. Living beings flourish when they are lovingly shown affection and open, interested, non-judgmental awareness. But they feel equally or even more happy when there is a counterpart to whom they can extend this. Altruistic giving seems to be the meaning of life and shows incidentally that this benefits all of life. To distinguish from altruism, however, is giving that would support the selfishness of others. To distinguish this from each other and to be able to differentiate intuitive from unconscious acting, for this the silence meditation can have a deep meaning.
The way to silence is accepting, compassionate, loving silence or God, no matter what religion or worldview one holds. He or she who does not love silence finds nothing. But emptiness is also not nothing. Without love it goes therefore never into the silence and this loving succeeds only without self! It is selfless love, which grows beyond "itself" and which knows no border, which is not bound to conditions. But as human beings, who we are, living in a dual world, which is not perfect, but living, this goes only humbly! Why? Because we cannot live 24 hours a day selflessly! And with this insight the self-acceptance grows and also the acceptance of the imperfect counterpart!
Let's come back to the self! In the deep silence meditation it is about the non-self, in the dual everyday life however a self is important, but not to the extent that it goes over into the other extreme where everything revolves only around the own ego. Therefore it makes sense to take the middle path, as Buddhists call it. To practice to bring the selfless into the dual world by means of the self, for that we need this entering into silence.
For some, the transition from self to non-self looks (seemingly) easy. But there are pitfalls and wrong ways. If someone has an inflated sense of self, this can also carry over into meditation. Some refer to this as spiritual ego, a person who feels exalted to others because of their spiritual accomplishments and abilities. At the other extreme are people with very low self-worth, as can be the case especially after psychological trauma and especially early childhood and/or multiple traumata. Here, silence can feel like a dead space. Where there never was a self, silence cannot truly enter. Here there is a danger of retraumatization through supposed harmless meditation. On the other hand, especially mindfulness meditation and perhaps later also deeper entering into silence can accompany therapy processes in a healing way. Psychology also speaks of a trauma-self, which prevails instead of a real self. It is necessary to recognize this and to detach oneself from this trauma-self. Thus, overcoming the self, this time in the form of a trauma-self, helps to transform the suffering. But this usually cannot be done alone, but needs experienced accompainment.
In the meantime, mindfulness practices and meditation have also become more important for psychologists, as it has been recognized that an accepting presence of the therapist, anchored in the here and now, helps the other person. The same is true for spiritual companions and likewise, which is probably far underestimated, for friends and people in the social environment. Whenever one encounters a value-free and above all loving presence, something is felt, an atmosphere is created that permeates the self of the person and continues without limit. These are healing moments, meaningful encounters and living experiences with a counterpart. I claim from experience that this happens not only between humans, but also between animals and across species between humans and animals and all interconnected life. If we can recognize and allow the moments, this miracle of life with each other becomes palpable! And this is for me the deeper meaning in the silence meditation.