Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Listen Carefully To Sounds Of Silence

the Oscar Awards ceremony held early this year where sound engineer Resul Pookutty got an award for sound mixing in Slumdog Millionaire. He concluded his acceptance speech by saying: "I come from a country and a civilisation that has given the universal word. That word is preceded by silence, followed by more silence. That word is OM. So I dedicate this award to my country." An artist of sound had paid homage to silence, as much as to the universal word and his country. Author Ben Okri said recently that he is a big fan of silence. "It is only in silence that the true self emerges." It echoes the import of what Swami Brahmdev said, that silence helps us to evolve, enabling us to enjoy the beauty of life even better. Creation is born of the womb of meditative silence.

Spiritual theory and practice have a deep legacy of silence. There is physiological silence and there is self-stilled silence. Physiological silence, a function of our body-mind complex, is the one experienced by our auditory nerves when we place our palms over our ears and shut out sound. It is a silence many of us need desperately to be able to think clearly, or even to sleep. The rational mind can often play a role in this silence, leading the process where one becomes silent or shuts out sound. An illustration of the mind's play with physiological silence is the way we can drift away even in a noisy environment, 'shutting' out sound.

Self-stilled silence is the silence of being, as opposed to becoming. It is not a silence to be experienced, but the silence of the experiencer, the witness. It is the silence of our unconditioned self, a silence that exceeds the ego and reaches into the pure field of consciousness. It exists all the time within us, the answer of the Universe to all the sounds we generate. It is in this silence that the world recedes into the background or vanishes altogether and the Universe within us emerges.

Self-stilled silence is rooted in being in the present, in realising the pure potential of the moment. This silence is the template of the interior, which, the Bhagavad Gita says, "Weapons cannot cut, fire cannot burn, water cannot wet, nor wind wither...". It is also the metier of the yogi who "regards alike joy and sorrow, success and failure, victory and defeat", the fount of deep detachment. Self-stilled silence is the language of communication with the Divine.

Consciously learning to withdraw from the world of physical sound can be a start to access the silence within. The idea of maunvrat or vow of silence is extolled as a spiritual practice. M K Gandhi practised it and said that he found clarity of vision in silence. But reaching self-stilled silence is more a discontinuous leap, satori or a sudden experience of awareness that is transformative. To taste this silence all it takes is to acknowledge its existence. Becoming aware of the need for silence inside helps us to better access our own Self, to experience the bliss of spiritual knowledge that can only come when we are free of the cacophony.

article written by slmanta Mohanty(The Times of India)

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