This post is also available in: Spanish
In the context of the V Latin American Humanist Forum that took place virtually, today a tribute was paid to Silo by watching again the video of the one that Salvatore Puledda gave him in January 1999, in the hall of the former Chilean National Congress. After his moving words, there followed those of Pía Figueroa, Dario Ergas and Juan Guillermo Ossa, who closed the meeting.
We transcribe here the first speech, by Pía Figueroa:
“I would like to begin these comments by celebrating the words of Salvatore Puledda, which describe Silo so well in January 1999. I remember that situation perfectly and I think that all of us who were present in the Hall of Honour of the former Chilean National Congress had a lot of fun and were very excited.
It was the first time that he was publicly recognised as a guide, an initiate, or was seen as someone who holds a key to open the door to the world of the spirit. At that time, Silo was more of a guide for the Humanist Movement, designing, shaping and collaborating in the implementation and development of each of its five organisms, as well as various apparatus. He was -of course- also a writer.
It would take some time for a handful of women and men who had already closed down our structural development activities, to recognize Silo as our Spiritual Guide and ask him, as such, to broadcast a call for nuclear disarmament through a spot that we broadcast on many television channels, in underground stations, stadiums and so on.
A curious way of communicating his word to the world, that of this Spiritual Guide who addresses brave women and men through the screens!
But that was after Salvatore died. In fact, he was not even present when Silo set his Message in motion. Nor did he know of any of the Parks of Study and Reflection that house the School. He was, however, one of his first disciples in the Material Discipline, and he understood very well that he was opening up four disciplinary paths to gain access to a region of the mind which escapes the conditioning of time and space, to a depth wherein lies an unfathomable source of inspiration, which he evidenced to us during the last years he was among us.
It seems to me that we have tried to answer this question that Puledda asks himself: Who is Silo really? It seems to me that we have tried to answer it by looking at the complete path of Mario Rodriguez and, for my part, I have come to the conviction that he is the Master of our time, just as figures such as the Buddha, Confucius, Pythagoras or Socrates were at other key moments for humanity.
However, 21 years after the situation we have seen in this video, having experienced a global pandemic that we are still not free of, with the consequent terminal crisis of a system that is obviously becoming more and more widespread every day, the environmental danger and climate change is becoming irreversible, the violence that is exercised daily against women, black people, indigenous people or anyone who simply expresses themselves because they can’t take it anymore, in front of this destructured and dystopian landscape, the words that Silo pronounced when he inaugurated La Reja Park resonate with me, when he asked, How will the fall of the other half of the world happen? and he exclaimed: May the answer to the clamour of the people be translated with kindness, be translated in the direction of overcoming pain and suffering.
He told us that as human beings we are not strangers to the destiny of the world and it happens to me that by internalizing his figure, by appealing to his presence, I feel impelled towards others, to work with others, overcoming individualism and confinement because I understand that from this moment on no one goes out on their own.
We constitute a fabric of consciousness that extends over our planet in an interconnected way and we do not only seek to end violence and discrimination, we do not only try to reconcile, but we go further and there is already a strong clamour for the irruption of a powerful signal.
Just as Silo described it in the 1960s, so early on, we are facing a terminal crisis of civilisation, which requires us to use all the tools at our disposal, especially a good dose of inspiration, in order to be in tune with the spirit that animates the future, despite the darkness we are going through at present.
“It will be very difficult,” I told the Master when he pointed out that because of problems of age, health, and efficiency, he would not continue to participate in the School. –“And you think we have trained you for 40 years for easy times,” he replied defiantly.
Inspiration, reflection, a sense of humour, a long-term vision and teamwork applied in different fields, flexible and diversified in action, but tuned in to that fine and sublime frequency that we so clearly experience in being close to the Master and that our dear Salvatore described with such sharpness, that is what we need in these present times, to try to live up to what the times demand of us.
Seeking to transform the present with a historical sense, while in the most intimate way each one advances towards the luminous possibility of transcendence, it seems to me that these are the keys that this extraordinary being that we were fortunate enough to find in our lives has left in our hands.
That’s it, thank you very much.”
Then spoke Dario Ergas, whose words we transcribed:
“This homage leads me to ask who I am, who Silo is in my life, who Silo is to those of us who share his project of humanizing the world, of human change, and of contact with the transcendent.
Why did Silo influence me so strongly that I shared his project for a lifetime? Even after his death, I experienced the importance of shaping my understanding and learning, developing a spirituality, strengthening the Parks of Study and Reflection, living Universalist Humanism and also focusing my life on the procedures for accessing the sacred spaces.
Life has something very circumstantial, the situation sets conditions and at some point, you are faced with possibilities where you have to decide; take one direction or another. What a good part of my generation believed was that something was not right in this society, the world had to be changed and that had to be done by means of a revolution and a world revolution. There were many forms of action and struggle; the hippies, the mystics and the Hindu gurus, liberation theology, communism, Marxist guerrillas, all romantic projects in which we risked our lives. And many young people, the best of this generation, died in those attempts or were traumatized by torture and exile when the dictatorships came.
My friends joined Silo, which I resisted, because he was considered a kind of antichrist that encouraged generational struggle, blaming the old people for manipulation, violence and abuses of power. But it was worse to run out of friends so I let myself be dragged into the first meetings.
And there they gave their opinion in a way that was new for the time, but which made my head spin. 1.-Social change would not be possible if human change was not attempted at the same time. 2. Violence is in one’s own consciousness and is projected onto the social, which in turn feeds back into internal violence. 3. The human being is in evolution, it is a young project with humanity in solidarity; it is possible if we work on change simultaneously. And 4.-The revolution must be total and non-violent. Total, not only social, but also psychological and spiritual; total and with a mode of action that eradicates personal and cultural violence.
The mimeographed writings that came from Silo were not easy, but he understood: that the human being suffers, that violence is rooted in the consciousness, that no master no matter how wise he may be can save you from this, that one can do work with oneself, but it will be of no use if life is not oriented to help overcome the suffering of others.
A few years later I attended some retreats organised by Silo’s groups to study alchemy, yoga, transcendental meditation and so on. But we were intercepted by Pinochet’s intelligence services and ended up in Londres 38, one of the dictatorship’s clandestine prisons. I thought I understood from this experience that the world was not for a traditional life and I had to strengthen the commitment and attempt of a non-violent revolution. At that time Silo synthesized our project as “the humanization of the Earth”.
I first met Silo at the meetings of the World Community for Human Development in the Canary Islands in 1978. After a week studying consciousness, the illusion of the self and the possibility of transcendence, an experience of Force was realized among the 500 that we were. An imposition of Force to be precise. After the experience in which I felt a gentle joy and a certainty that life had meaning, I climbed the stairs a few metres to the first floor of the theatre to see the joy and emotion of everyone hugging, laughing and crying. Someone next to me whispered in my ear, “you see what is happening, this is how history is made”; it was Silo who had climbed the same steps a little before me.
The experience of the Force and the different ways of mobilizing and projecting it, the askings, the thankings, the works of self-knowledge to untie biographical knots that could be blocking it, the direction of the Force to raise our attention, lucidity and self-awareness, would continue to occupy me to this day.
The campaigns against nuclear weapons and for proportional disarmament of neighbouring countries led to the formation of the Humanist Party in the midst of a military dictatorship. One of its most extraordinary campaigns was to paint the walls of all Chile from Arica to Puntarenas with the phrase “Que renuncie” (Let him resign). It was a courageous sign of non-violent struggle, and of irreverence towards the dictator, but what happened if someone was imprisoned, tortured or disappeared in this action? Silo warned us, each one of us is worth a lot, more than you can imagine, we cannot take risks, the neurons of our people are valuable, we cannot expose them. We planned the operation rigorously, knowing the risks, but even so we could not know if there would not be some “accident”. Silo explained that in joint actions there is usually social pressure, and in this case people accompany us not from freedom, but from group pressure, from what they will say. We had to generate conditions of respect and freedom for everyone who decided to participate or not in this action. Non-violent action is courageous, organised, and above all libertarian, and with total respect and acceptance for those who do not follow it. And everyone had to know the risk they were taking; they were not solitary decisions, but had to discuss it very well with their own people.
In a single night all the walls in Chile’s major cities demanded that Pinochet resign.
It was with Silo that we drew up the project of the humanist deputy and the intentional construction of a social leadership, and he is the author of the phrase “face to the people and the back to parliament” which synthesises the humanist political project; and it was he who taught us the dangers of the “altitude virus” when you hold public office and power, in which you forget that you are in that position thanks to the whole and attribute it to your own personal qualities. And he accompanied us during Lala’s illness, encouraging, “While there is life, he said, you fight, you contribute to the project, you do not give up; ours have to feel that we fight until the last minute”.
And the 20th century was coming to an end when we met in Punta de Vacas in the Andes mountains; 30 years after the project to humanise the world began, and before five thousand people who came from all continents, he recognised that we had failed: “We have failed, in our attempt to humanise the Earth”. Our ideals cannot be realized in this era.
We had embarked on a lifelong project, built a worldwide movement of non-violent struggle and personal change, and failed. Failure for Silo was always a central theme of his teaching. Failure is a moment of liberation from illusions and the possibility for a new inspiration to break through and point the way forward. To carry failure in one’s heart is part of an attitude of life that puts us in the search and the attempt, and not in the craving for the result that enslaves us. And at some point in his reflection, he suggested that we have not put the same energy into our personal transformation as we did into building the Movement. And that the mental change, the conversion towards a transcendent meaning of life, which is proposed in the Inner Look and the Message, is of a magnitude that requires at this time, a central priority.
And we met again at the beginning of the new century, again at the foot of Mount Aconcagua. “We failed, those words bounced off the mountain walls, but we insisted, because we flew on a bird called intent, which flies above the frustrations and pettiness. From there we began the profound transformations to which we are still committed today: the Movement ends its hierarchical organization to become equal and coordinated communities, developing the new universalist humanism; the Parks of Study and Reflection are born on all continents to transmit the experience of Force; the communities of the Message open a path to interiority, awakening a religious feeling based on free interpretation and free organization, and a few specialists develop for themselves and others the procedures to access the transcendental experience.
We have failed, but the attempt to humanize the world continues to spur our hearts on, and this construction that we carried out together with Silo, is here, it is now, it has taken shape in the human landscape to open up the future, towards which humanity is already advancing.
To conclude, Juan Guillermo Ossa gave us his life testimony and closed the meeting which was held with a full hall.
Here the video of the event:
To view the video with English subtitles: 1. Click on the Subtitles icon (white rectangle in the lower right corner of the video player window). 2. Click on the Settings icon (cogwheel in the lower right corner), then click on Subtitles and then click on Translate automatically. 3. In the window that opens, scroll through the list of languages and click English.