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Is pure silence possible?

March 21, 2008 by Lightwaves
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silence_1.jpgSwami Radha talks about what can happen when the mind becomes absolutely still.

When you arrive at the Ashram, the first thing you may notice is how quiet it is. Many people remark on what a relief this is from the sounds of urban areas and everyday life. In this quietness we can encounter our mind, sometimes unlike we never have before. How many of us actually experience silence? Is it possible? What lies beneath the distractions and sounds that fill up our minds?

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna teaches this: “Perform action, O Arjuna, being steadfast in Yoga, abandoning attachment and balanced in success and failure! Evenness of mind is called Yoga.” 2-48.

silence_2.jpgWhat does Krishna mean by evenness of mind? We are often swinging between attractions to something pleasurable and avoidance of something painful. With the mind in this constant state of agitation, it takes skill in yoga to calm it, to become even minded, balanced in both success and failure.

What is available to us if we can penetrate the background banter and enter into this silence in ourselves? Here’s what Swami Radha has to say.

“The human voice is a bridge between two worlds – not only your lower nature and your highest nature, but also between a world of chatter and one of utter silence. Such a silence we can acquire in the practice of meditation.

“When we are in this silence, we can become quite aware of the vibrations of our sound, the sound of our voice. We know when we sigh, we know when we take a deep breath, and we may hear the sound of the heart. We may have an urge to speak, but this great silence embraces us, and we find it superfluous to even say anything silently in our own mind. It is a beautiful experience. And what Devi of Speech really means suddenly emerges, like a very clear-sounding thought. It is also at that moment where we don’t feel we want to use our human voice, because our feelings are so refined, so strong, so high, that the tongue remains silent.

silence_3.jpg“In that moment of this absolute silence, you may hear something within yourself, what we may call ‘the Divine Word’ or ‘the Divine sound’. This leads us to mantra. And mantra is really the crown of the Devi of Speech. When chanting the Divine word, breath, vibration and rhythm are created intentionally by the use of the voice, and we begin to understand that mantra is above all the chatter of daily living.

“If there is purity of mind and purity of soul, what about purity of sound? The purity of sound depends not on your voice, but the purity of the sound, which comes from your heart. So when you think of that kind of sound, and you experience that, then you will understand when some of the scriptural texts say, ‘The sound without a sound.’ The sound without a sound is like the stream of consciousness. It takes quite a bit of practice to come close to such experiences, and when we can do this, we achieve a state beyond.”

Adapted from The Devi of Speech by Swami Radha – available from Timeless books.


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  1. Why is quieting the mind as hard as trying to catch the wind?

    Comment by Arlene — March 23, 2008 @ 6:34 pm

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