The first American mingled with his pride
a singular humility. Spiritual arrogance was
foreign to his nature and teaching.
He never claimed that the power
of articulate speech was proof of
superiority over the dumb creation;
on the other hand, it is to him
a perilous gift. He believes profoundly
in silence - the sign of a perfect equilibrium.
Silence is the absolute poise or
balance of body, mind, and spirit.
The man who preserves his selfhood
ever calm and unshaken by the storms
of existence - not a leaf, as it were,
astir on the tree; not a ripple upon the
surface of shining pool - his, in the mind
of the unlettered sage, is the ideal attitude
and conduct of life.
If you ask him: "What is silence?"
he will answer: "It is the Great Mystery!"
"The holy silence is his voice!"
If you ask: "What are the fruits of silence?"
he will say: "They are self-control,
true courage or endurance, patience,
dignity, and reverence.
Silence is the corner-stone of character."
"Guard your tongue in youth," said
the old chief Wabashaw, "and in age you
may mature a thought that will be
of service to your people."
Charles Alexander Eastman
(Ohiyesa) - Santee Sioux
From THE SOUL OF THE INDIAN
First published in 1911