Published on New York Spirit
Four monks decided to meditate silently without uttering a word for two weeks. By dusk on the first day, the candle began to flicker and then went out.
The first monk said, “Oh, no! The candle is out.”
The second monk said, “Aren’t we supposed to observe silence?”
The third monk said, “Why must you two break the silence?”
The fourth monk laughed and said, “Ha! I’m the only one who didn’t speak.”
Silence doesn’t come easy. And in the modern world, absolutely not! The chaos outside creates chaos inside. Many of us are retreating to a ten minute morning meditation to get some moments of silence. Why are we seeking silence? Just because the decibels are too loud for our ears? Perhaps. Why, then, saints and monks living in the lap of nature are serenely quiet just like the nature around them? In fact, the new monks’ first set of lessons includes keeping silent.
Noise vs. Sound
When I told this to one of my acquaintance, she asked me, “How are they away from noises of nature?” I gasped. Noises? Nature has sounds. Not noise. A sound is a reverberation of energies. Noise is unwanted, energy-draining sonic modulation. They are surrounded by sounds of nature which in fact, helps them to transcend deeper into their silence.
Silence is usually connoted with something negative as it appears to be an absence of sound. To many, silence is uncomfortable. That is because retracting oneself from the cacophony of outside world and journeying inside is not what one is used to. We are encircled by words, sentences, languages, gossips, conversations almost all the time. We relate to that world of traffic. But words, as Sadhguru explains, are a lie. The sound is the truth. Words are man-made. They can mean anything. Gift means a souvenir in English and denotes poison in German. It is the mind that forgets the natural flair for sounds and recognizes only words.
You listen to different sounds in nature. There is not a single word yet the melodies of these sounds touch your core. Words have their significance – a lot – but not at the expense of forgetting the value of silence. Each should be given an equal amount of our time.
Silence and absence of noise are not exactly the same. You can sit alone when no one is talking and still the commotion in your mind, the clatter of your thoughts can exist. There is a better word in Sanskrit to explain the silence which I am trying to discuss here- Maun (Mow-n).
There is a great significance of tuning oneself to silence. So much so, that in India, there is a day called Mauni Amavasya (Silent New moon day) which falls in the month of January. Saints observe silence on this day. The energy of silence is heightened by the astrological fact that the Sun and the Moon enter in Capricorn. All the water bodies, too, have great influence this day. That’s why there is a big occasion of a dip in holy rivers on this day which millions of people attend in India.
How to begin
Start with keeping half an hour silence. Switch off TV, music, phone ringer and other noise generating gears. You can sit in meditation or in a garden observing nature around you. You can also go for nature’s walk for these solitude hours. Understand that the purpose is to get comfortable with silence first. You can increase this time to one to two hours of silence every day. You would begin to enjoy these hours of peacefulness. You would notice that even after these assigned two hours of silence, you would involuntarily choose silence instead of saying something unmindfully which usually you regret later. That is because silence makes us attentive. The chaos of thoughts hushes down. Understand that expressing gratitude or saying what is absolutely necessary is not breaking the vow. You can always get back to where you were.
Going within is the way to many secrets of leading this life. Our sixth sense gets activated when there is calm inside. Observing silence is the way to becoming silence eventually. You cannot be on the inner path with the clamor. There are two steps to enter this path of silence. First is to cease the noise from outside and the second is to mute the thoughts’ disharmony. Introspection comes this way. Mindfulness comes this way. Calmness comes this way.
Silence is powerful. It is a blooming period for a bud. It is a poetry for two lovers. It is a meditation for a saint. It is the enchanted portal to the answers you seek.
May we all know the powerful sound of silence!