The Experience of Silence

Once the disciple Bhaskali approached his guru, Bhava, and asked him where that eternal, the supreme infinite, the Brahman of the Upanishads, was. The master spoke not. The disciple asked him again and again, but the master did not open his mouth. He kept perfect silence. At last the teacher said: “I have been telling you again and again, but you do not understand me. What am I to do? That Brahman, the Infinite, the Eternal, cannot be explained. But, by deep silence, know it. There is no other place for Him to dwell in, but the one eternal deep silence. Ayam Atma Shantah. This atman is silence.”

God or Brahman is supreme silence. Soul is silence. Peace is silence. Silence is the language of the heart. Silence is the language of the sage. Silence is immense strength. Silence is great eloquence.

Silence is the substratum for this body, mind, prana and senses. Silence is the background for this sense-universe. Silence is power. Silence is the only reality. The peace that passeth all understanding is silence. The goal of your life is silence. The purpose of your existence is silence. Behind all noises and sounds is silence – your innermost soul. Silence is your real name. Silence helps the intuitional self to express itself. To go into silence is to become God.

The message of the desert Sahara is silence. The message of the Himalayas is silence. The message of the avadhoota who lives stark naked at the icy Gangotri or Kailash is silence. When the heart is full, when you get overjoyed, there is silence. Who can describe the glory of this silence?

There is no healing balm better than silence for those persons who have a wounded heart from failures, disappointments and losses. There is no soothing panacea better than silence for those who have wounded nerves from the turmoil of life, from friction, rupture, and frequent domestic quarrels.

In deep sleep, you are in close touch with this stupendous silence, but there is the veil of avidya or primal nescience. The silence that you enjoy during deep sleep and the silence that you experience at dead of night give the clue to the existence of that ocean of silence or Brahman.

Silence of speech, senses and mind

In common parlance, to sit quietly without talking to anybody is silence. If your friend does not write to you for a long time, you will say, “My friend is keeping icy silence. I don’t know why.” If anybody does not talk in a big lecture hall for some time when there is a thrilling lecture, you say, “There was pin-drop silence last evening when the philosopher delivered a lecture.” When the boys make much noise in the class, the teacher says to the boys: “Silence, please.” When you come across two sadhus, one sadhu tells: “The other sadhu is a mouni. He is my friend. He is observing the vow of silence for the last six years.” This is all physical silence.

If you do not allow the eyes to see objects, and if you withdraw them from objects through the practice of pratyahara or dama, this is silence of that particular sense organ, eye. If you do not allow the ears to hear any sound, it is silence of that particular sense organ. If you observe a complete fast on Ekadashi days without taking even a drop of water, it is silence of the sense organ, tongue. If you do not perform any work and sit in padmasana for three hours, it is silence of the feet and hands.

What is really wanted is silence of the bubbling mind. You can observe the vow of silence, but the mind will be building images. Imagination, reasoning, reflection and various other functions of the mind will be going on continuously. How can you have real peace or silence? The intellect should cease functioning. The inner astral sense should be at perfect rest. All the waves of the mind should completely subside. The mind should rest in the ocean of silence or Brahman. Then only you can enjoy real, everlasting silence.

Mouna, vow of silence

Mouna means a vow of silence. There are different kinds of mouna. The control of speech is vak mouna. If you keep the organ of speech quiet, it is vak mouna.

The complete cessation of one’s physical actions is kashtha mouna. In kashtha mouna, you should not nod your head. You should not show any signs. You should not write anything on a paper to express your ideas. In vak mouna and kashtha mouna, the mental modifications are not destroyed.

Equality of vision and quiescence of mind with the idea that all are no other than Brahman, is sushupti mouna. The expurgation from the mind of all doubts, after realizing firmly the illusory character of this world, is sushupti mouna. The settled conclusion that the universe is no other than the all-full Brahman is sushupti mouna.

Brahman is called maha mouna, because He is an embodiment of silence. Maha mouna is true mouna.

Vak mouna is only a help in the attainment of maha mouna. Silence of the mind is far superior to silence of speech.

The organ of speech

The vak indriya or the organ of speech is a strong weapon of maya to delude individuals and distract the mind. Talkative people cannot enjoy peace of mind. Miscellaneous talking is a very bad habit. It distracts the mind. It keeps the mind always outgoing and makes one unspiritual.

Quarrels and disputes occur through the play of mischief of this turbulent vak indriya. There is a sword in the tongue. Words are like arrows. They injure the feelings of others.

The study of scriptures makes some persons very talkative and forces them to enter into unnecessary discussions with others to show their scholarly erudition. Pedantry or vain display of learning is a special attribute of some scholars.

The vak indriya is very mischievous, troublesome, turbulent and impetuous. It must be steadily and gradually controlled. When you begin to check it, it will try to rebound on you. You must be bold and courageous.

Do not allow anything to come out from the mind through the vak indriya. Observe mouna. This will help you. Now you have shut out a big source of disturbance. If the vak indriya is checked, the eyes and ears also can come easily under control. If you control the vak indriya, you have already controlled half of the mind.

Benefits of mouna

Energy is wasted in idle talking and gossiping. Worldly people do not realize this. Mouna conserves energy and you can turn out more mental and physical work. You can do a lot of meditation. It has a marvellous soothing influence on the brain and nerves. By the practice of mouna, the energy of speech is slowly transmuted or sublimated into ojas shakti or spiritual energy.

Mouna develops will-force, checks the force of thoughts, curbs the impulse of speech, and gives peace of mind. You will get the power of endurance. You will not tell lies. You will have control over speech.

Mouna is a great help in the observance of truth and control of anger. Emotions are controlled and irritability vanishes. When one is ailing, observance of mouna will give great peace of mind.

He who observes silence possesses a peace, strength and happiness unknown to worldly people. He has abundant energy. He is ever serene and calm. In silence, there is strength, wisdom, peace, poise, joy and bliss. In silence, there is freedom, perfection and independence.

Discipline of speech

Try to become a man of measured words. Strictly avoid long talk, big talk, tall talk, all unnecessary talk, all sorts of vain debates and discussions, etc., and withdraw yourself from society as much as possible. This itself is mouna. To talk profusely for six months and to observe mouna for the rest of the year are of no avail.

Watch every word. This is the greatest discipline. Words are great forces. Use them carefully. Control your speech. Do not allow the tongue to run riot. Control the words before they pass over to your lips. Speak little. Learn to be silent.

High sounding words cause exhaustion of tongue. It is mere weariness of speech. Use simple words and conserve energy. Conserve speech for the praise of God. Devote more and more of your time for an inward life of meditation, reflection and atma chintana.

Purify the mind and meditate. Be still, and know that you are God. Calm the mind. Silence the bubbling thoughts and surging emotions. Plunge deep into the innermost recess of your heart and enjoy the magnanimous Silence. Mysterious is this Silence. Enter into Silence. Know that Silence. Become Silence itself.