Mouna or silence is a powerful yogic tool for people who want to dive deep into higher practices and seclusion. We waste much of our energy by speaking because the sense of speech requires energy in order to be operational. There are five tattwas, or elements, and each indriya, sense, is related to one of the five tattwas. The organ of speech is connected with agni tattwa, the fire element. When speech and the organ of speech are used, a lot of agni tattwa is consumed.
At the same time, using the organ of speech works upon the brain. Therefore, in tantric and yogic sadhana the practice of mouna is highly praised. One can practice mouna for one day, three days or a week. Some people observe mouna for many years.
In the Munger ashram, a young American boy took a vow of silence. He lived in the ashram and for about six years he observed silence. However, he did all the work for me. He used to drive me throughout India, do all the office work for me and deal with the government in Patna or Delhi. By observing mouna, his work and my work did not suffer. By the practice of mouna, his mind became very sharp and intuitive, not only in spiritual matters but also in worldly matters. His decisions were accurate, his work was superfine, and for three years I made him my personal secretary.
However, in the beginning of his mouna, for about six months he used to get angry and emotional. It was part of his sadhana, because, when you practice mouna, you conserve energy, and that energy has to be properly channeled.
If the energy is not channeled. or sublimated, then it will manifest in the form of anger, violence and passions. Anger, greed, jealousy and ego attachment are negative forms of energy. Compassion, love, forgiveness and tolerance are positive forms of energy. Therefore, in the initial stages, the conservation of energy should be properly channeled.
I first give the sadhana of not talking for at least forty-eight hours to people who come to the ashram suffering from high blood pressure. I find that within forty-eight hours hypertension is under control.
When you talk, you are extroverted; when you do not talk, you become introverted. When the mind is extroverted you perceive external objects, whereas introversion is the state of mind when you cognise inner sensations. Extroversion is perception and introversion is cognition. When you observe mouna, you become more and more introverted.
Modern psychology uses the word introvert for abnormal people. In fact, in modern psychology introversion is an abnormal mental condition, but in yoga the word introversion means something completely different. In yoga it is called antar mukha vritti. Antar means internal, mukha means face, and vritti means pattern of the mind. When the mind is looking inside, that is introversion in yoga. When you become introvert, you can analyse; introspect, contemplate and see yourself. Therefore, introversion is an essential condition for self-analysis and self-introspection.
Supposing in a family, two people have a fight with each other, and afterwards each party thinks the other person is wrong, and therefore, they are not able to make peace. If they retired in seclusion for at least one day, they would realize who was wrong. During mouna you come closer to truth. Prejudices and arrogance in your nature are broken. In order to realize your mistake, you have to be able to see yourself as a different person. During the practice of mouna, the ego stands apart.
In villages in India, most people practice mouna. When they eat, they do not talk. This essential training is given even to children. One reason is that when you eat, you should only eat. The mind must be involved to help in proper digestion and assimilation. In digestion, the liver plays the major role, and when you are thinking the liver is affected. Thought does affect the liver then and there. Of course, thought affects the whole body, the heart, the lungs, but it affects the liver because it is directly connected with the process of digestion. Therefore, mouna at the time of eating is considered to be important.
The second reason for observing mouna at meal times is considered equally vital. Eating and speaking together can cause accidents. Sometimes when you are talking food goes into the wind pipe, and death can occur. I have seen two such deaths happen in front of me.
When you are in the company of enlightened people, you must observe silence. Ramana Maharishi always remained silent. When people asked questions, he replied in brief, and then he used to ask them to sit quietly. He had a big hall where he used to recline and look into the void, or do shoonya trataka. From morning to evening, he never closed his eyes. He always kept his eyes open, and in his presence people used to sit and keep quiet.
Paul Brunton, a journalist, came with many questions, ready with his fountain pen and notebook, but Ramana Maharishi would not speak. First of all, he did not know English, and secondly he did not know much. He only knew one thing _ there is one truth and the truth is in you. Whichever question you put to him, he had only one answer, "Find out who am I, and if you find out `who am I', then you find the solution to your problem."
The way to find out is to keep quiet. So, people used to sit quietly before him with eyes closed. First of all, they would look at him, and they would practice this silent sitting many times a day in the hall, because Ramana Maharishi used to recline and look at the void, shoonya. He was not concerned with any ritual or blessing. So naturally, everybody had to keep quiet. When a guru talks too much, a disciple also talks too much. When the guru keeps quiet, what can the disciples do? So everyone was compelled to remain quiet.
Sri Aurobindo was another great yogi of India. He observed mouna during his lifetime. He was a professor and an active political worker, but when he retired to Pondicherry, he lived in mouna.
Knowledge, jnana, is the inherent quality of every being. You don't get knowledge from outside. What you understand now from me, you already know. What you understand because of me, you already know, and if you did not know it, I would never be able to explain. Therefore, jnana is the essential quality of the Self. Atma or the Self has three essential qualities: omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence. These qualities are hidden and dormant. Just as the fire in ammunition is dormant, in the same way, these qualities are concealed. Therefore, by practicing silence you are trying to express or manifest these qualities.
—L'Hermitage, France, 4 August 1984
When the rays of the sun fall on paper or a piece of cloth, they generate only a little temperature. However, when they come through a magnifying glass, the paper and the cloth will start burning within seconds. When the rays of the sun are dissipated they are weak, when magnified they become powerful.
The same applies to the mind. The mind is dissipated, broken and moves in different directions. Therefore, it has no power and no strength. When you gather and collect the tendencies of the mind, it becomes a force. This force can be used to make a resolve, a sankalpa. When the mind is relaxed, the tendencies are concentrated and your sankalpa generates a momentum and comes to pass.
For example, if you concentrate on a person, you feel him, you connect with him and sometimes you can imagine him. It is hard for you to see the person clearly. If you can see the nose, the eyes and the texture of the hair clearly, it means that the mind is in a state of concentration. There is no more dissipation. The energy particles of the mind are not scattered, but they are moving in one direction. This is called one-pointedness. All the waves are moving in one direction.
If you visualize a person to that extent through an idea, you set the idea in motion. The same idea will happen in his mind because of the relationship between mind and object or between two minds. They are separate of course, but there is a link between the two. There is a relationship between everything that exists in the world. Nothing is isolated, everything is connected with everything. A concentrated mind gains force, like the sun's rays through a magnifying glass.
Some years ago in Russia, a scientific experiment was conducted with two people. One person was the operator and the other was the subject. One person transmitted thought waves and the other picked up the thought waves. In the beginning there must have been failure for sure, but later they succeeded in grasping and receiving the thought waves. First, the experiment was conducted at a distance of about one or two metres, and gradually the distance increased, until at a distance of sixteen hundred miles the subject picked up the messages correctly. Finally, the two people were put into a Faraday's cage, where electromagnetic or radioactive waves cannot penetrate. Thought transmission took place, the reception of thought took place and the accuracy was tallied.
When you can bring one-pointedness to the structure of the thought waves, they become powerful and do not care for distance. In fact, distance belongs to a particular state of mind. As the mind changes, distance also changes. Distances are relative, not absolute. The mind has a category, and distances relate as if they were a category of the mind. At a distance of sixteen miles, you cannot hear me, but at a distance of fifty feet or ten yards, you can hear me. When the thoughts change their pattern and become concentrated, the quality of thought is different and the distance also changes. Everybody and everything is a part of you. When the mind is dissipated, disturbed or oscillating, then it has distances. It is not able to connect itself with the things with which it is naturally linked. However, there is also a state of mind without distance, which is the super-mind.
Sankalpa is the state of mind beyond all fluctuations, where the negative and positive tendencies are totally subdued. The gunshot leaves the gun; it does not change its course, but goes straight to the target. In the same way, when a thought is created, it just goes to its aim. There is nothing to intercept or to intervene and nothing can change its course. This is called sankalpa.
A dissipated mind and a disturbed mind will say, "Oh, I am not going to drink from tomorrow", or "I am not going to tell lies", or "I am not going to do this or do that". This will not to help at all. It is like a paralyzed person trying to slap somebody. The mind says, "I want to slap you", but the right hand is paralyzed and cannot slap. Therefore, it is necessary that the base of sankalpa is created. For example, I want to send a thought wave to you that I will help you. The idea is "I will help you", but how am I going to send this idea to you? There has to be a base like a rocket launcher. Something will have to carry the idea, the message, the blessings and benedictions, the ill will or jealousy.
Everything has to be carried through some kind of medium. Passions, hatred and jealousy have naturally a very powerful range. Love, charity and compassion do not have a powerful range. Positive ideas are no doubt good, but they do not have a powerful velocity. When you think about someone as your enemy and you think strongly and intensely about him, he feels it. He gets the idea and he knows that something wrong is taking place. However, if you think about loving or helping somebody, he does not even understand it.
Therefore, in tantra the ideas, the thought waves related to the natural passions, are made rocket launchers. If you have passionate thoughts, the mind does not dissipate. But when you are doing japa how many times do you have to drag the mind back! It does not happen when you watch TV. The mind is so used to sensual pleasures that it is not necessary to tell it what it has to do.
In yoga nidra, the sankalpa is made just before the start of the practice and at the end. In the beginning it is done to create an idea and at the end the idea is launched. That is sankalpa. Every thought transmission is sankalpa. Essentially we are one. Just like one thread penetrates through all the beads of a mala, in the same way, all the beads that we are, three million or three billion, are threaded together. We may be different circuits and on account of our incapacities we may not be able to connect with each other. The time should come in the life of every spiritual aspirant when he feels that he is one with everybody and that nobody is different from him. Only one consciousness penetrates through every mind, every heart, through every being, and not only human beings, even animals.
You should realize your identity with every sentient and insentient object. Even matter which is inert and has no senses, animals which do not have a human type of mind, in the realm of reality they all carry one essence. If we can concentrate our mind, then the mind can be used as an efficient tool for experiencing the total unity with the visible and invisible universe.
—London, England, 6 April 1982