The world around us is so full of noise. Sometimes we keep hearing noises inside our heads even though everything is quiet outside. Add to this all the everyday noise. We have become quite immune because we keep hearing it continuously that somehow it has become a part of our life. Let’s just make a list, the fan whirring, the air conditioner humming especially when it is due for a service check, the washing machine swooshing, the microwave setting off the timer alongside the oven- my god we should be the noisiest planet in the whole universe. Now as if this were not enough, we see children and young adults, plugging in to their earphones and either listening to music, making a call or watching a television show.
With so much noise, all we can expect is only cacophony not the least symphony and absolutely no chance of harmony at all in our life. Our ancient lifestyle called for deep periods of introspection and long stretches of silence. If we are continuously engaged in such chatter, we cannot listen to our inner thoughts. It is important to spend some time where we shut down all external noises and just silence our thoughts and sit still. This is called reflective meditation. In the stillness of the mind, we can get insights to many of life’s problems. But the most important thing in today’s world we are so hooked to so many things that tearing away from them is going to be quite a difficult task. I think we need to keep our mobiles away, disconnect with the outer world and most importantly take our mind away from them. No point trying to sit still while the mind is thinking of the whatsapp messages received just then.
Maunvrat is a form of practice that is quite common in many households. Elders observe this as a fast and don’t talk to anyone. Quite a difficult task, I must say. Gandhiji used to follow this practice and would communicate by writing if there was anything urgent to convey. There are so many great saints in our culture who have observed silence as a way of life. Bhagawan Sri Ramana Maharishi, the great Saint of Thiruvannamalai is supposed to have given profound messages to his devotees – all in silence. Arthur Osborne who has written the Sage’s biography describes the Maharishi’s habitual silence which communicated more than speech and his intuitive grasp of a questioner’s mind and his simple answers to the most complex questions. All these attracted many Westerners and Indians to his feet. But how do Gurus use silence to influence their disciples. Sri Aurobindo has explained this well in his book Record of Yoga where he talks of Prakamya and Vyapti.
By Prakamya we have perception of another’s feelings; by Vyapti these feelings are felt striking on our own consciousness or ours are thrown into another. It is possible by vyapti to communicate anything we have in our systems – thought, feeling, power, etc – to another and if he is able to seize and hold it, he can make it his own & use it. The teacher & the guru habitually use this power of vyapti which is far more effective than speech and writing. Every thought, feeling, sensation or other movement of consciousness in us creates a wave or current which carries it out into the world-consciousness around and there it enters in any adhara (support) which is able and allowed to receive it.
Perhaps that is the meaning of the adage Mounam Vyaakyaanam -the Guru preaches through silence as seen in the Dakshinamoorthi picture who is sitting under a tree and giving profound lessons to his disciples through the language of silence.
Sometimes our environment can also help us in achieving the stillness of the mind. There is a great connection between us human beings and trees. In our ancient books, there is a lot of reference to men seeking enlightenment by sitting under trees. The Peepul, the banyan- all these are very significant trees that we come across in books. Great masters have gathered their pupils and given discourses under trees. The Buddha is supposed to have become enlightened under a tree. Maybe the vast expanses, the green foliage the positive vibrations flowing out of the trees all these are factors that help in achieving calmness of the mind. Nature has that unique healing power. Every time I see a sunrise on the beach, go trekking on the mountains or dip my feet in the cool waters of a river, I feel a strange pleasure and I know I am not alone. Just that we have forgotten to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. I strongly feel that Kenya has such serene beauty of nature which can actually give us a lot of opportunities to become one with god. I can feel the difference between advanced countries and Africa in case of spirituality.
If we are able to tune inwards due to the power of silence, then we can feel a bout of energy surging through us. We feel refreshed and also ready to take on the world with a fresh perspective.