H is for

H is for…


In the glossary forming one section of the book Siloism originally published in 1972 or 3 we find the following definition of the word:
A form of allocution used by Silo. His principal harangues were: H of the Sea, The Healing of Suffering, The Forbidden H, the Seocnd Forbidden H. and the Third Forbidden H. The harangues were given in Chile and Argentina during 1969.

In any case the Spanish term arenga can mean a discourse, a pep talk, or something close to the English word harangue with its meanings of a long, scolding, and/or pompous address. In the early English translations of Silo’s talks the word was simply translated as harangue maybe walking into the problem that linguists refer to as “false friends”. Wikipedia describes them this way: False friends are pairs of words or phrases in two languages or dialects (or letters in two alphabets)[1] that look or sound similar, but differ significantly in meaning. An example is the English embarrassed and the Spanish embarazada, which does not in fact mean ’embarrassed’ but rather ‘pregnant’.

Not realizing any of that, and even today having no idea whether it would have been better to translate arenga as discourse, or something similar, personally I always thought that calling your most important, and seminal talks by this normally derogatory term was both charming and clever.

H is for…

Healing of Suffering

This is the seminal and arguably most important of Silo’s haranguesRefused permission by the totalitarian government of the time to speak publicly he was finally told that if he returned to his hermitage in the Andes he would be given permits to speak to the rocks and snow. And so he delivered the talk that has come to be known as The Healing of Suffering in the inhospitable environs of the small settlement of Punta de Vacas.

The text of the talk (published in Silo Speaks which can be found in volume one of Silo’s Collected Works. Audio and text can be found here. Interesting audio interpretations of this talk and other of Silo’s talks, by The Good Science (Mark Lesseraux and Jeremiah Hosea), can be found here.

The Plaza of Steles at Parque Punta de Vacas where the Healing of Suffering can be found inscribed on copper plates in various languages.

Here’s the text of that short talk
The Healing of Suffering

Punta de Vacas, Mendoza, Argentina, May 4, 1969

If you have come to listen to a man who it is thought transmits wisdom, you have mistaken your way, for true wisdom is not communicated through books or speeches—true wisdom is found in the depths of your consciousness, just as true love is found in the depths of your heart. If you have come at the urging of slanderers and hypocrites to listen to this man so that what you hear today may later be used against him, you have mistaken your way, because this man has not come here to ask anything of you or to use you, because he does not need you.

You are listening to a man who does not know the laws that rule the Universe, who is not privy to the laws of History, who is ignorant of the relationships that govern the peoples of the world. High in these mountains, far from the cities and their sick ambitions, this man addresses himself to your conscience. Over the cities, where each day is a struggle—a hope cut short by death—where love is followed by hate, where forgiveness is followed by revenge; over the cities of the people rich and poor; over the immense fields of humanity, a mantle of suffering and sorrow has fallen. You suffer when pain bites your body. You suffer when hunger seizes your body. But you suffer not only from your body’s immediate pain and hunger, you also suffer from the consequences of the diseases that afflict it.

We must distinguish between two types of suffering. There is the suffering that occurs during illness, which recedes with the advance of science, just as hunger can recede if the empire of justice advances. There is also the suffering that does not depend on the sickness of your body but yet derives from that sickness: If you are disabled, if you cannot see, if you cannot hear, you suffer. But though such suffering derives from your body, or from the diseases of your body, that suffering is of your mind.

There is yet another kind of suffering that does not recede even with the advance of science or with the advance of justice. This type of suffering, which belongs strictly to your mind, retreats before faith, before joy in life, before love. You must understand that this suffering is always rooted in the violence that exists in your own consciousness. You suffer because you fear losing what you have, or because of what you have already lost, or because of what you desperately long to reach. You suffer because of what you lack, or because you fear in general.

These, then, are the great enemies of humanity: fear of sickness, fear of poverty, fear of death, fear of loneliness. All these forms of suffering pertain to your mind, and all of them reveal your inner violence, the violence that is in your mind. Notice how that violence always stems from desire. The more violent a person is, the more gross are that person’s desires.

I would like to tell you a story that took place long ago.

There was once a traveler who had to undertake a long journey. He yoked his animal to a cart and began the journey to his faraway destination, a journey he had to complete within a certain length of time. He called the animal Necessity and the cart Desire; one wheel of the cart he called Pleasure, and the other he called Pain. Our traveler turned his cart sometimes to the right and sometimes to the left, yet he never ceased moving toward his destiny. The faster the cart traveled, the faster turned the wheels of Pleasure and Pain, carrying as they did the cart of Desire and connected as they were by the same axle.

But the journey was very long, and after a time our traveler grew bored. So he decided to decorate his cart, and he began to adorn it with all manner of beautiful things. But the more he embellished the cart of Desire with these ornaments, the heavier became the load for Necessity to pull. On the curves and steep hills of the road, the poor animal grew too exhausted to pull the cart of Desire. And where the road was soft, the wheels of Pleasure and Suffering became mired in the earth.

One day, because the road was long and he was still very far from his destination, our traveler grew desperate. That night he decided to meditate on the problem, and in the midst of his meditation he heard the neighing of his old friend, Necessity. Comprehending the message, he arose very early the next morning and began to lighten the cart of its burden, stripping it of all its fine adornments. Then he set off once more toward his destination, with the animal Necessity pulling the cart at a brisk trot. Still, our traveler had already lost much time—time that was now irrecoverable. The next night he sat down again to meditate, and he realized, thanks to another message from his old friend, that now he had to undertake a task that was doubly difficult because it involved his letting go. At daybreak he sacrificed the cart of Desire. It is true that when he did so he lost the wheel of Pleasure, but then he also lost the wheel of Suffering. And so, abandoning the cart of Desire, he mounted the animal called Necessity and galloped on its back across the green fields until he reached his destiny.

See how desire can trap you. But notice that there are desires of different qualities. There are cruder desires, and there are more elevated desires. Elevate desire, purify desire, surpass desire! In doing so, surely you will have to sacrifice the wheel of Pleasure—but you will also become free of the wheel of Suffering.

Spurred by desire, the violence in a person does not simply remain like a sickness in the consciousness of that person—it acts in the world of other people and is exercised upon them. And do not think that when I talk of violence I am speaking only about the armed act of war, where some men destroy others. That is only one form of physical violence.

There is also economic violence. Economic violence is the violence through which you exploit other people; economic violence occurs when you steal from another, when you are no longer a brother or sister to others but a bird of prey feeding upon them.

There is also racial violence. Or do you think that you are not being violent when you persecute someone because that person is not of your own race? Do you think that you are not engaging in violence when you malign that person for being of a race different from your own?

And there is religious violence: Do you think that you are not engaging in violence when you refuse work to, close your doors to, or dismiss a person, because that person does not share your religious beliefs? Do you believe that it is not violence when you use words of hate to build walls around other people, excluding them from your society, because they do not share your religious beliefs—isolating them within their families, segregating them and their loved ones, because they do not share your religion?

There are other forms of violence that are imposed by the Philistine morality. You wish to impose your way of life upon another; you wish to impose your vocation upon another. But who has told you that you are an example that must be followed? Who has told you that you can impose a way of life because it pleases you? What makes your way of life a model, a pattern that you have the right to impose on others? This, then, is another form of violence.

Only inner faith and inner meditation can end the violence in you, in others, and in the world around you. All the other doors are false and do not lead away from this violence. This world is on the verge of exploding with no way to end the violence! Do not choose false doors. There are no politics that can solve this mad urge for violence. There is no political party or movement on the planet that can end the violence. Do not choose false doors that promise to lead away from the violence in the world… I have heard that all over the world young people are turning to false doors to try to escape the violence and inner suffering. They turn to drugs as a solution. Do not choose false doors to try to end the violence.

My brother, my sister, keep these simple commandments, as simple as these rocks, this snow, and this sun that bless us. Carry peace within you, and carry it to others. My brother, my sister—if you look back in history, you will see the human being bearing the face of suffering. Remember, even as you gaze at that suffering face, that it is necessary to move forward, and it is necessary to learn to laugh, and it is necessary to learn to love.

To you, my brother and sister, I cast this hope—this hope of joy, this hope of love—so that you elevate your heart and elevate your spirit, and so that you do not forget to elevate your body.

H is for…

Historical Moment

Back in the day (when I first encountered Silo’s teachings) you’d have found in materials of the time something like this:
An historical ambit in which several contemporary generations coexist. The hm is modified when the system of power is transferred from one generation to another. This transference can be done progressively (in which case, the determination of the change of the moment is not very obvious), or in a revolutionary manner.
Siloism, H. Van Doren: Aconcagua Press, 1972

Here’s the definition Silo left us with:
Every social situation finds itself in a determined hm wherein diverse generations coexist. An hm is differentiated from another when a “rupturist” generation disputes the power of the generation that holds it. Given a rupture, the conditions are present in the new hm for processing a new stage of greater breadth, or for the simple mechanics of the generational dialectic to continue. The hm appears as the minimal system (*) of a structure configured by the generations that coexist, in relationship with the structure of their corresponding sociocultural (*landscape) environment (*). Grasping this minimal system is necessary for the comprehension of a historical process. In other words: the coexisting generations and their surrounding landscape are the dynamic structures of the minimal system called hm

A Dictionary of New Humanismin Silo; Collected Works Vol 2.

H is for


The h.a. existed long before words such as “humanism,” “humanist,” and others like them had been coined. The following positions are common to humanists of all cultures: 1) placement of the human being as the central value and concern; 2) affirmation of the equality of all human beings; 3) recognition of personal and cultural diversity; 4) a tendency to develop knowledge beyond conventional wisdom or that imposed as absolute truth; 5) affirmation of the freedom of ideas and beliefs; and 6) repudiation of violence.
Beyond any theoretical definition, the h.a. can be understood as a “sensibility,” a way of approaching the human world in which the intentionality and freedom of others are acknowledged and in which one assumes a commitment to non-violent struggle against discrimination and violence (humanist moment).
A Dictionary of New Humanismin Silo; Collected Works Vol 2.