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Unnecessary Talking

Unnecessary talking is one of the chief obstacles to awakening.

If we want to awaken, we need to reduce unnecessary talking, and if you want to reduce it, you need to know what it is, both in theory and practice.

Talking has many uses. We are the only animal on the planet that has this faculty. We can use it to communicate great ideas, to ask simple questions. To express emotions, in all kinds of forms, from simple greetings, to moving poems. We can use talking to ask someone to `Please pass the salt', to give the instinctive-moving brain what it needs. There's a lot of useful, necessary talking.

On the other hand, there is also talking that has no use, that does not achieve any aim, that is simply talking for talking's sake. You aren't interested whether the other person is interested to hear what you're saying, you probably aren't aware of what's going on, engrossed in the conversation. You might well feel drained afterwards, and have no memory of what you said, it was so trivial.

Talking like this can use a huge amount of energy, and is a sure sign of sleep.

You don't even need to have another person around to be doing unnecessary talking. You can be talking to yourself, going over some old arguments, having an imaginary conversation in your head. You might be making mental notes on everything that you are doing. This should not be mistaken for self-observation --- self-observation should involve all centers. If you just say what you are doing to yourself, you are probably missing a huge amount that can not be put into words.

There is no rule to tell you what is necessary and what is unnecessary talking. You have to observe yourself, see if what you are saying is of any use, and how does it make you feel? Some people are more prone to unnecessary talking than others, and will need to work on it more. For some people it may be that they do very little talking at all, and really need to speak up more often.

For myself, I fall into the first group, an endless talker. A little while ago, I went to see Notre Dame in Paris with some friends. We'd read what Ouspensky had written about Notre Dame in A New Model of the Universe, and were interested to try and see what we could see in it ourselves.

My friends stood and looked at the statues on the front, while I went on: `That looks like so and so', `I wonder what that one is supposed to represent?', `They are supposed to be the seven human types with each of the four dominant brains.', `I've heard the original heads are in another museum, maybe these are not accurate copies'; And on and on.

We walked away, on to find somewhere to eat, and one of my friends said how he'd felt quite moved by the figures. I was suddenly taken aback a little, as I'd not felt anything at all. I realised that all I had taken in, I had immediately given out in talking. I had not absorbed or digested the impression. I felt a loss, and a realization about the prison of my mechanics.

Recently I was walking through a park with someone, talking incessantly. The other person tried to tell me to reduce this, but I couldn't. Eventually, we decided an exercise, not to talk at all for the rest of the walk. Gosh, what an interesting walk it became. I started to see what was around me, and have such clear memories of the beautiful trees. The walk only lasted about an hour more, but it felt like a whole day had gone by, time was stretched. Less energy was lost.

This kind of exercise is not useful in other situations, as one does need to talk. But I learnt a lot in just a little time. I would keep finding myself feeling I had something really desperately important to say, and I would just have to break my silence. But counting to ten, and thinking `Well, I can make a mental note of it and say it later' --- by the time I had got to ten, generally the thing seemed to have lost all importance, and often, I could not recall at all what this `incredibly important' thing had been!

To work with unnecessary talking, you need to begin with self-observation, to find out if you are a person who suffers from it, and to observe what you lose by indulging in it, and what you gain by refraining.

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