We have this inherent love- hate relationship with silence. As humans, we carry large voids of passive disillusionment and disenchantment, that we subconsciously fill with large doses of noise, which does little or nothing to contribute to our life. Our world was a quiet place of tranquil existence, in and about nature. Humans were meant to thrive on the abject simplicity of the quiet, but unfortunately our restless world needed to be filled, and so we added chatter and noise and all the inconsequential din of modern living, to fill all the vacuum. Since English is a language of overlapping words it is important to note here that silence is imposed while quiet is sought.
On reflection, we notice that all the great forces that surround us and by which we live, are silent. The vast immensity of space, the enormity of the ocean, the boundlessness of mountains, the endlessness of deserts – all make us pause and reflect that this blue orb was created for humans to evolve into transient beings, without the shackles of greedy acquisitions and noise.
But the word ‘Silence’ has become associated in our minds with inactivity, passivity and abject boredom. Ask a wife relating the day’s events to her husband who practices the art of silence to perfection at that moment… while he, on the other end, views her spontaneous and constant verbal communication, not so much a pleasure but a necessity.
Saints, ascetics, gurus and masters have all pointed out the importance of silence. They proclaim that the path of self-transformation is quintessentially based on the art of observing silence. The term for observing silence is ‘Mauna’ in Sanskrit. Observing Silence helps you achieve silence of the mind. The human mind is a grand circus of thoughts – it makes it virtually impossible to listen to the echoes of your mind which speak a primal and basic language. This language has now become completely strange and foreign to our existence these days. Quietude of speech is paramount to attaining complete quiescence of the mind. When you practise silence, the voice of the soul opens up.
By some twisted paradoxical nature of things and the egoistical basis on which human existence is based, our intellects have left us with more acute hearing, but less to listen to. When you gently click shut all that background noise in a room conducive to gentle meditation, you may have moments of clarity where you find answers to all those forlorn questions.
If, however, you choose to retreat to patches of thunderous silence, like an ocean retreat or atop a mountain majestic in its bounty and offering of solitude, the silence may whoosh in to fill a vacuum… You can almost hear it sucking away from the ear, not air but some secret, some granular constituent of the ether, or maybe some secret ingredient of dark matter, leaving you with an almost tangible feel of belonging to the larger world of creation, while toppling that misconceived sense of self.
We rarely give ourselves such moments. All instincts we ever possessed are in a slow burn of deterioration, leaving us with a forged mass of human intellect, supreme in creating complexity, where simplicity should have existed. It was in that moment when we stopped listening to the silence, that’s the moment when disbelief was born. We sought imperfections and propounded theories against it.
Silence is feared. You try and listen for proof of noise – we seek comfort in music, money, entertainment, appetites, controversy and culture. We are now wired to disprove the existence of silence. The labyrinths of our minds are tuned in to the humming, buzzing of crazy drumbeats invading your eardrums. There are never any gaps between loud noises or chatter, never any moments of relative quiet, not even in the deep of that quiet night. Just as the night skies are no longer visible, silence is no longer audible. We pay for it, knowing it still exists, but somewhere now beyond our reach. And before we race off to go prospecting in those hills or barren lands, the sad truth is both are not so easily won. We lost them eons ago with the loud din of progress and starry allure of modernisation.
In silence we think, in silence is trust, a pantomime of ourselves is revealed – unfurling layers of noisy chaos, till all that’s left is the ‘me, myself and I’, in complete rhythm with the universe. Like the mechanics of a clock that need regular winding, our souls need to oscillate in complete tedium with the universe. Words dissolve, no longer mattering into a thousand tiny fragments of unnecessary matter. The language, the script, is so intrinsic to the self, it really needs no translation, it just flows through every miniscule atom, energizing your being into a thousand layered insights into your existence. That is indeed, the infinite truth of silence – the deliverance we fear the most!