What is silence? Generally we tend to think that silence is the absence of noise.
Is silence mere noiselessness? Can absence of noise be called silence? But what do you actually hear when there is no noise?
Most people have no chance o being silent, in real silence. For years i have asked the question to patience, students and clients: If you were locked in a room with no doors, no windows, no sound or sensory stimulation at all, what would you do?
Every single one that has answered has answered with an action of something to do. i have then asked them, then after you were done with that????? Then What would you do? They then say something else to do. I then again ask the same question and they start to get the idea.
In the silence is everything.
You may hear your heartbeat, you may hear rustling leaves, you may hear subtle sounds that you usually do not perceive. Some seem to hear a primal sound, a primal buzz, as is spoken of in the Vedas: ‘Aum’, the very first, the eternal sound, from which all sound and all creation arises. The different levels and the changes of the sounds are written about in yogic texts.
It is amazing how eloquent could silence be. We are unable to understand it or reach it, because between silence and us we have erected uncountable multi dimensional walls. We almost try to deny silence, which is the really core of our being or even defy it. Most of us are only comfortable with noise. Even in birth, we fight silence as we announce our arrival in this world with a loud piercing wail. Just as we must go through the heart of darkness to see the flaming light, we have to enter the cluttered noisiness of our mind and the world around us to reach where silence alone remains.
But why silence?
In practice and time, when our senses, our mind and our intellect fall short of their functions, another channel called mauna opens up.
If one can communicate through silence and the listener can listen there, it is the most powerful means of communication. And in this spiritual learning, it plays a dominant role. Silent communication is beyond the burdened of individuals different sanskaras due to bonding with a particular religion, ethnicity, culture or country. The connotation of a word or its sentiments remain tied to sanskaras, however subtle the words may be. Life’s essence cannot fully blossom into words. Mauna has the essence, which always exists in the present, and is free of ahankar . The speaker’s or the listener’s ego always takes him to I ness instead of Being ness.
Silence is the medium that takes us on the journey from the apparent self to the real self. When we are silently observing the body, and observing the mind, that which is witnessing is silence. We are constantly allowing in the garbage through our five doors and we are constantly reacting to it. Silence takes us beyond the sense experiences to the real experience.
Mauna allows one to be in contact with existence without anything in between you and existence. Interestingly, silence is perceived by another to be something negative, something empty, an absence of sound, of noises. This misunderstanding is prevalent because very few people have ever experienced silence. All they have experienced in the name of silence is noiselessness.
How can one reach the silence within? To reach the real, absolute silence, we need to go beyond the silence of the body, the silence of the heart and finally the silence of the mind. Before one can merge with eternal silence we shall need to reach, sit it and then transcend the silence at the physical, emotional and mental levels.
And by the way, merely keeping mute is not mauna vrata. Neither is not speaking for 40 years yet writing on a chalk board. That is called something else. As someone that can not hear is called deaf, someone that does not speak is called…..
It is only the internal mauna that has value. Extrenal mauna is only the starting point. For someone in mauna who cannot give up the desire to communicate with the external world and keeps doing it either by sign language or by involvement in other activities, cannot find the bliss that is in real silence.
If we intend to keep silent for two hours, but all the while we are thinking of what we are going to do for the rest of the day, or what are we going to cook for dinner, or what jobs need to be finished, that is no mauna.What is the difference between that and talking? To reach internal mauna, complete withdrawal from the world and from all external experiences is important.
But again this is only the beginning. Absolute silence is arrived at after successfully crossing over all thought walls, which is difficult to impossible for most living in the mundane world. Silence comes with stillness of the mind.
But why do we need to go into silence? Why do we need to know it or to reach it? When we know silence, we know our Self. When we reach silence, we reach the supreme power that is called God. Silence is shunya, the no mind state.
Mauna vrata literally means a vow to keep silent. For spiritual growth it is essential that one’s speech is pure. Purity of speech comes from the practice of silence. One attains the abode of Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu through silence. Along with mauna vrata it is essential that some time must be spent in offering prayers.
Silence is placed midway between other qualities. It begins with control of the mind. Once the mind is controlled, one becomes friendly. One begins to look kindly towards others. One cuts down on useless speech and thinks more of God. One begins to generate good thoughts.
Whoever can remain silent everyday for a full year becomes worthy of thousands of years of praise in heaven.
Chanakya Niti, 11/9
Silence changes the personality of an individual. Through silence a person controls mind, emotions, and speech. One grows stronger through greater determination. In the end one is more at peace and free of tension. In taking mauna vrata, there is massive conservation of energy as well as the entire experience changes comprehension and perception.