Published Feb 2021; The Speaking Tree, Times of India :
The majestic peaks and deep valleys of the Himalayas silently call us and leave us speechless with their magnetic charm; so does the bewitching beauty of the Saharan desert. The sound of crashing ocean waves may comfort us, but it is the ocean’s unfathomable silent depth that astounds us.
In Hindu philosophy, silence is linked with ‘asat,’ unmanifested, non-being. Words are ‘sat’, real and manifested. Ramana Maharshi explains that when we close our mind to outer stimuli, the primal thought ‘i’ enters a state of egolessness. In the absence of ego, the real Self surfaces, and then both inner and outer worlds shine. Anchored in the inner Self, one can experience the manifested reality, too. This is how God is ‘sat’ as well as ‘asat’, because the truth of both the inner and outer reality is known to Him. It is known to the seers as well. Silence becomes powerful because it has the living, forceful presence of non-existent ‘anubhuti’ of all the noise that has transcended its existence. Distilled form of sound perfectly coalesces into silence.
Most religions acknowledge the power of silence and place it high on the list of ‘tapas’. Tapas means abstaining from indulgence. Silence is not only about speech but of thought and action too. The five ‘indriyas’ are windows to the physical world only. Outer stimuli are accepted by them, converted into thought and released into action in the form of words that produce sound. Silence implicates the silence of thought process. With strict discipline it is possible to direct thought waves inwards. This offers us an opportunity to come closer to consciousness, the vital source of instinctual energy.
Life imbued with this powerful energy is more unified. Interestingly, animals are closer to this instinctual source than us. They possess fierce energy, piercing concentration and masterful composure. Their body, mind and action move in one direction. Our energies are divided. Our thoughts are different from what we feel and how we act. Therefore, we struggle and feel uncertain, pitiful and doomed, as we are not in harmony with forces of nature. If we want our instincts to respond, we need to have unified sensibility and for that we must still ourselves. When senses are calm, silence is dense, enter the cave of heart, and wait patiently to hear the sound coming from the inner Self. Blessed tranquillity will be bestowed on you.
Today, silence is the last thing on our agenda. Yet it is important in order to overcome mental fatigue. Science says that our brain has to struggle with huge amount of stress daily and even a short duration of relaxation outside in nature can heal it. With relaxed mind we are able to conserve energy and feel rejuvenated. Magnetic personality, enhanced creativity, better management of emotions, radiant aura and calm demeanour are some of its benefits.
The spectrum of silence is wide. At the gross level, it controls senses that produce words in the form of sound. At the subtle level, silence of sound controls the restless surging thoughts and resulting actions and thus, calms the mind. At the causal level, one gains robust will power, endurance and peace. The result is overall stillness. The steadiness that comes with the cessation of all action is the lowest possible energy state of ascetics that gives them longevity and peace of which we all are rightful owners.