In truth, it is about an original and unusual thinker, who dived into the depths of the heart and mind, shaping a task, whose exact dimension has not yet been understood. Having written dozens of books, he was also an author in the sense that his ideas were presented in order to be compared in different study groups – real existential laboratories – that many people, young and not so young, experienced with enthusiasm and awe in different lands and cultures.
In order to try to reveal the significance of this, I am sure that he was an attentive reader. He had studied Ortega y Gasset, Edmund Husserl, Mircea Eliade, Nietzsche, Sartre and Hegel. Naturally, he was very familiar with, among many others, Marx, Darwin, C. G. Jung, Freud – whose notion of the unconscious he objected to – Wolfgang Kohler, Heidegger, Heisenberg and Kandinsky. All of these thinkers sowed the seeds for an opus magnum: to try to become a kind of guiding light of the internal roads.
Consciousness for Silo, was an open phenomenon, whose intricacies, including the most intimate, repressed or removed from the rational, could be revealed to whoever knew how to find the key, with patience and composure, to decode its manifestations. The mind, meanwhile, was a kind of larger sphere, the infinite ocean within which consciousness and the world carried out their daily activity.
From this perspective, his original liberating teaching has points of contact with Buddhism, although he is not disdainful of the contribution from Sufis, of the Alchemy of the Alexandrines and Neo-Alexandrines or of the Philokalia of the monks of Mount Athos.
A relentless scrutiniser of the spirituality of pre-Columbian cultures, on different occasions he referred to the Mesoamerican myth of Quetzalcoatl, the man-snake who became a god, and also the great Pachakuti, the reformist of the Inca empire, who humanised that empire’s social collective, as explained in the text “Humanism in different cultures” from the Russian intellectual Semenov. On the other hand, Aconcagua as the majestic and symbolic protector of the Andes – and of mother nature – in the locality of Punta de Vacas, where Silo began his mission, is a constant reference in his work.
Heir of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, he was the successive creator of the Humanist Movement and organisations like the Humanist Party, the Community for Human Development, Convergence of Cultures and other associations. Silo’s message is the synthesis of his doctrine which leads towards one objective: to Humanise Earth, in other words, to discover the purpose of man in the world.
A profound optimist and exceptionally curious, as a real Prometheus in recent times he put into practice what he called *“workshops of fire”*: interested in studying the leap of consciousness that enlightened hominids and converted them into sapiens sapiens, he devised different experiments to produce and control fire from primitive spheres, in original elemental conditions, and accordingly to observe and understand the exertion such a task put on the functioning of the psyche 40 or 50 thousand years ago.
The questions were: *What did man do to discover the technology aimed at producing and controlling fire? How and where did that transforming purpose emerge from in the environment and in itself and what were its effects? How did evolution and the leap of consciousness occur?* Because, in short, man’s struggle is aimed at overcoming pain and suffering, in other words, towards this endeavour by transforming the conditions -whatever they were- that restrict his temporal-spatial existence.
Shortly before Silo’s physical death, my daughter María Guillermina, a sensitive and receptive being, deeply moved, told me that she had a considerable intuition. She dreamt that in a meeting with friends, thin, weak and gaunt he fell to the floor, everyone ran to help him, but Silo contained them with a gesture and he said to them: *“-no, me no, look after the work, look after the work…!”*
An extraordinary premonition that reminded me of the final part of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, when sitting on a stone, anxious and pensive, he asked himself, *“-what is the last sin of the Superior man?”* Then and suddenly, says the poem, his face lit up and he said to himself: *“-Self-compassion…! Perhaps I aspire to the regret of my self-compassion? No! -he responded firmly: I aspire to my Work!!!”.*
Special people who know how to go deep, to understand the problems of the darkest times and clearly establish the footprint of an open and bright future have appeared in all cultures. Silo was one of them; he vindicated himself as belonging not to a country, particular ethnic group or class, but to those men whose mission was to look after the destiny of the human species in all its dimension and mystery.
His proposal for Peace was first publicly expressed when he was 30 years old, on 4th May 1969, in Punta de Vacas, at the foot of Mt. Aconcagua, with a harangue known as the of the *”Healing of Suffering”*. It was the start of the wonderful decade of the 1970s, with the generational renewal, May in Paris and the collective yearning to change the world. The development of his ideas – fought by the military regimes from Onganía to the Military Process- soon spread to all continents.
In 1993 he received the Honoris Causa doctorate from the Russian Academy of Sciences; shortly before he had been appointed *“Master”* by the Buddhist Shanga of Sri Lanka, to the south of India.
The last time he appeared in public was on 11th November 2009, in Germany, where he spoke before the Summit of the Nobel Peace Prize laureates, when the World March for Peace and Non-Violence, from the association “World Without Wars” (also born from his inspiration) arrived in Berlin after travelling around different continents.
It is worth mentioning that this epic march began in New Zealand, travelled five continents and culminated its journey in Punta de Vacas, at the foot of Mt. Aconcagua, in the middle of the Andes, where Silo received it with open arms, there were he built one of the many Parks of Study and Reflection that are dotted across the world.
*translation by Rhona Desmond*