Although to all those watching Silo in recent months his body did appear to be weakening it was still a shock when two weeks ago an official announcement was made confirming that he was suffering with kidney failure but none were imaging the end to come so quickly.
Tomas Hirsch, a close friend for decades and former candidate for the Chilean Presidency said last night, “He died as someone who not only did not believe in death, but above all considered life to be part of transcendence.”
According to reports the philosopher and spiritual guide, whose books have been translated into dozens of languages, passed away around 10pm local time in Argentina accompanied by his wife and one of his sons.
Hirsch continued his tribute saying, “His legacy is so broad that today we cannot grasp its dimension. He is a man who has set in motion a project that absolutely transcends himself in time, a project of personal and social transformation that has been translated into numerous organisations around the planet: political, social, cultural and above all spiritual.”
Throughout the world from Mozambique to Hungary, from Argentina to India and from the USA to the Philippines his followers will be gathering in the Parks of Study and Reflection that he set in motion in order to console each other and celebrate the life of a man who denounced and turned his back on the established order of things almost from the moment he became aware it existed.
Publicly he launched himself on the world in 1969 in a speech called “the Healing of Suffering” in the Andes in a small town in the mountains called Punta de Vacas which is the only place the military authorities in Argentina at the time would allow him to speak. On this occasion after explaining that desire leads to violence and listing and denouncing all the different forms of violence in the world he said, “There is no political party or movement on the planet that can end the violence.”
He then proceeded to create one which would eventually expand its influence to over 100 countries and whose most public face for many was the political party “The Humanist Party”. However he also inspired or directly organised the launching of “The Community for Human Development”, “Convergence of Cultures”, the “World Centre of Humanist Studies” and “World without Wars and Violence”.
It is from this last organisation that the most public demonstration of his humanism in action emerged with last year’s “World March for Peace and Nonviolence”. This huge mobilisation, the brain child of Rafael de la Rubia, a Humanist activist for nearly 40 years, was totally inspired by this doctrine of social and personal change that Silo promoted.
In more recent years he had dedicated himself to the launching of Parks of Study and Reflection of which there are almost 30 in development, with their distinguishing meditation halls which are totally spherical inside and pointy on the outside, and devoid of anything apart from oneself and other people. He also dedicated himself to his spiritual project “Silo’s Message” giving his followers a way to express a spiritual dimension without having to rely on existing religious expressions many of which Silo has attacked for their religious violence. His “Message” came in the form of a small book containing another book he wrote back in 1971 called “The Inner Look”, the author’s journey from a state of “non-meaning” in life to a meaningful existence, eight ceremonies to accompany life-changing moments such as marriage and death, and a meditation called the Path, assuring readers, “Do not imagine that you are alone in your village, in your city, on the Earth, or among the infinite worlds.”
As he wrote in the ceremony of recognition, “Our spirituality is not the spirituality of superstition, it is not the spirituality of intolerance, it is not the spirituality of dogma, it is not the spirituality of religious violence. It is the spirituality that has awakened from its deep sleep to nurture the best aspirations of the human being.”
His followers are today coming to terms with trying to carry forward his project without being able to consult directly with the one who inspired their lives, no doubt reflecting on what he wrote back in 1981 in the Internal Landscape, part 2 of “Humanise the Earth”.
“I will tell you the meaning of your life here: It is to humanise the earth. And what does it mean to humanise the earth? It is to surpass pain and suffering; it is to learn without limits; it is to love the reality you build. I cannot ask you to go further, but neither should it offend if I declare, ‘Love the reality you build, and not even death will halt your flight!’”
Mario Rodriguez Cobos, Silo, born 6th of January 1938, died 16th of September 2010 aged 72. He is survived by his wife Ana Luisa and their two sons Alejandro and Federico. Author of several books including, “Humanise the Earth”, “Silo Speaks”, “Letters to my Friends”, “Silo’s Message” and “Contributions to Thought” among others, founder of the Humanist Movement and the Parks of Study and Reflection. In October 1993 he as awarded an honorary doctorate from the National Academy of Sciences of Russia.