How do we find the peace and joy that comes from Silence?

Brahma Jnanis become silent because Brahman cannot be expressed in speech
Why do those, who attain Brahmajnana – the highest knowledge – the knowledge of Brahman – become silent? They don’t speak much. What is Brahman? It cannot be explained by speech or thought or by any other means. That is why the scriptures say “Avang Manasa Gocharam’. The knowledge of Brahman / what is Brahman cannot be explained by speech or mind. It is beyond Avang – beyond speech. Sri Ramakrishna gave an example: the salt doll went to measure the ocean. It could provide no information. As soon as it went into the ocean, it dissolved. Who would give the report?

A man asked Sri Ramakrishna– does a man who has attained Brahmajnana, having become established in Samadhi, always remain silent? This question was put to Sri Ramakrishna by the great personality Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar. Sri Ramakrishna laughed and said Sankracharya, Narada, the great saints and seers also speak after attaining Brahmajnana.

He said to Vidyasagar – the saints and seers keep a little knowledge of ‘I’ – a little ‘ahankara’, a little sense of ego just for the good of the world. If the ‘I’ totally merges with the Universal ‘I’, then one cannot speak at all. That sadhaka, saint or seer remains calm and quiet and in complete silence. But for the good of the world – in Sanskrit it is called Lok-kalyana – Narada, Sankara, Sri Ramakrishna, even Ramana Maharashi spoke.

So when a Sadhaka completely remains silent it is because in that sadhaka, saint or seer, there is no ahankara – no sense of ego! Sri Ramakrishna used to say in Bengali – “Ami mone ghuchibe janjhal” – the little ‘I’ always gives us trouble. When this little ‘I’ goes away or dies, then there will be no trouble, no quarrel. So the little ‘I’ has to be washed away.

What happens when we encounter the silence of a Brahma Jnani?
In the presence of such saints and seers any kind of doubt in us also melts away. It dissolves completely.

When the heart is full with peace and bliss, in other words – spiritual joy – the mouth doesn’t speak, the heart speaks. Speech can only go to a certain extent, but the heart can touch your heart in silence. It is more penetrating, more radiating, more piercing. It can touch your heart. Holy Mother for example in Bangalore, could not communicate with words (in their language), but could radiate the spiritual joy. This spiritual radiation knows no kind of boundary. It is universal.

For example, Swami Abhayananada – Bharat Maharaj of Belur Math. I have seen him personally. Many intellectuals and political leaders would come to him. Bharat Maharaj did not know too much English. People would come to him and Bharat Maharaj would simply sit like a ‘parvat’ – mountain. He would ask only in English or Bengali – ‘kemon acho’, ‘kaisa hai’ or ‘how are you’? ‘are your sons and daughters alright’. But people would sit before him for hours together. Once Bharat Maharaj was completely unconscious – in coma. The Chairman of Railway Board went inside the cabin of the hospital and sat there for 15-20 mins. When the Chairman came out from his room, I asked him what were you doing there? Swamiji was not talking. He was completely unconscious (coma state as per medical terms). He said my doubts have completely gone and I have come out full of bliss and peace.

Swami Vivekananda would say that if a sadhaka sits in a closed cave of a mountain and sincerely meditates, a kind of spiritual vibration generates inside the cave. That vibration does not remain confined within the cave. It expands and expands and has tremendous influence over people.

How do we spiritually train ourselves in silence?
Spiritual sadhana cannot be practiced in noise and bustle of the material world. For spiritual sadhana, there should be a calm and quiet place. If you read the lives of sadhakas, saints and seers, you find that most of them practice spiritual sadhana in silence – in a place of solitude.

You may ask – now-a-days there is no place of solitude! Where to go? Sri Ramakrishna was aware of all this – though he was above the material world. He knew that sadhakas of kaliyuga cannot go to solitude in the mountain caves and the forests for the sadhana. They would ask where should we go? With so much of deforestation and breaking of mountains now-a-days, there is anyway no jungle or mountain! Sri Ramakrishna would say ‘ekant vasa’. You spend a few days in a place of solitude.

Since householders cannot spend a long time in solitude because they have family etc., Sri Ramakrishna would say spend at least a few days – maybe in some Ashrama. Justice Sri Krishna said go to some lonely place with absolute calm, quiet and serene atmosphere of the Sringeri Math. Spend some time there, meditate, study the scriptures. That is called ekanta vasa according to Sri Ramakrishna.

The meaning of true silence – the silence of the mind..
Silence means you have to silence your mind and senses – all faculties and sense organs. Then you can be called a ‘mauni’ – silent one. When mind body and other sense organs/ faculties function or work in harmony, there will be no friction.

Take the example of a machine. There are many parts in a big machine. If the individual part doesn’t work in harmony, there will be friction and noise. If all the parts of the machine work in unison or harmony, then there will be no friction or sound.

Sometimes you see the ceiling fan making a lot of noise. Why is that so? Because there is a friction. The parts inside the ceiling fan are not working in harmony. When your mind, body and senses work in harmony, there will be no friction, noise or disturbance – internal or outside.

Most of the time, the mind, sense organs and buddhi work in different directions. They are scattered. Because they are scattered, they are distracted and that is why you feel unhappy. You are tense and suffering from mental tension and agony. When the mind and senses are brought to a point and their direction is brought inward, there will be no friction, no sound, no quarrel, no anxiety, no worries.

When we say we are not happy, what is the reason behind it? It is nothing but dependent on the mind. Sri Ramakrishna would give a nice example. In Bengali he would say ‘mone boddho mone mukto’.

We are bound, we are not free. But if you think you are free, you are! everything depends on your mind. If you feel in your mind that you are sad, you are. if you think you are happy, you are happy. Everything depends on your mind. So you have to study your mind.

Silence of the mind is the most difficult to attain!
Ramana Maharashi and other great spiritual giants completely controlled their minds. Most of us are the servants of our minds – not masters. We do whatever our mind tells us! Swami Vivekananda used to say that Napoleon Bonaparte conquered the whole world, but was unable to conquer his own senses! If you can conquer your mind, you achieve everything.

You are all sitting here, most of our minds have gone here and there – to our homes, sometimes to America, New Zealand, Europe and Australia. Mind is so restless and fast moving. In fact, mind is the only fast moving thing in the world! Nothing else. Yaksha asked Yudhistir what is the fastest thing in the world? Not Sputink, aeroplane, condorde, or any rocket. These are nothing in front of the speed of the mind. In a moment it goes to Europe and America! It is so restless and turbulent.

The way to silence of the mind:
One, Continuous practice
Nobody can give a better prescription than the Bhagavan Sri Krishna. He has said – “abhyansentu kuntiya vairagya chaine giriyete”. Who else can give a better prescription/ method! Now a days everyone wants immediate results – instant, shortcut, bypass. Dear friends, there is no concentration of mind, there is not shortcut, bypass, no instant coffee! ‘Nirantar Abhayasa’ – continuous practice is needed. But unfortunately we don’t have patience. After meditating for a few days, many devotees ask questions – Swamiji the mind does not stay in one place!

The way to silence of the mind:
Two, Dispassion=a disciplined, moderate life
Householders get frightened by the word vairagya! We need to take sannyasa and leave home and hearth and go to the forest and ashrama? Never! However dispassion means to lead a disciplined, moderate life. Without leading a disciplined life, you cannot have concentration of mind. It is absurd. You can sit for 24 hours but it won’t happen. So along with the constant practice, you have a disciplined and moderate life – moderate thinking, moderate eating, moderate thinking, moderate activity. If you eat too much you will fall ill, and if you eat too little you will become thin. If you do too much activity you will become weak, and if you do too much enjoyment you will fall ill! So you have to be disciplined in everything you do. That is why Bhagavan Buddha said ‘madhyapantha’ – middle path. Don’t go to the extreme. Both the extremes are very dangerous.

The way to silence of the mind:
Practice in solitude
So a sadhaka must do spiritual sadhana in solitude (nirjan jagah).

Sri Ramakrishna gave an example of an oyster. An oyster lives in the water. When it rains, the oyster comes to the surface and takes in the rain water, goes back deep inside and stays quiet there. He doesn’t even move till the pearl is not formed inside! Till then he lives there quiet and calm. Similarly Sri Ramakrishna says we must sit quiet in silence till we don’t experience spirituality (adhyatmic anubhuti) inside us. It is very difficult to have spiritual experience/ knowledge. But we have to make the effort with a calm approach.

Similarly, if we want to pursue a spiritual life, we will need to practice in silence and quiet. Not showing anyone, but in silence. This is especially emphasized in the Indian tradition. All people of yore, rishis etc. have practiced in silence.

The influence of silence is very tremendous. If we sit in silence people come to us. Why do people come to the person who is silent? That person is full of joy and bliss. And only if a person has something will he radiate it. If you are empty inside, what will you give? You will give, radiate, transmit, only when you have spiritual joy and bliss within you. Like the great men who would radiate spiritual happiness, peace and joy to others. Just sitting in front of such people, one will become quiet! All problems get resolved, and one receives peace. Because they have the power to radiate.

Like Ramana Maharishi, Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and other Rishis. They are full with spiritual joy and bliss. That is the way to radiate and transmit spiritual joy, happiness and peace.

Silence comes from inside-out peace and joy, not outside-in objects
Why do these people – the great seekers of God or spiritual giants sit quiet? Why can’t we sit quiet? Because the happiness and peace that we seek, we seek from the outside world and material objects. We think that if I get a Mercedes Benz, I will have peace. We will be happy. But whatever peace and happiness you seek from material objects is very impermanent – temporary. Today you have money you are happy. If it goes away tomorrow, all will be over. All the peace and happiness will go!

So dear friends, the great Sadhakas like Ramana Maharashi and Sri Ramakrishna did not look for peace and happiness in outside objects. They looked for it inside. The peace and happiness is within you. That is why they were not restless. They knew there was an infinite mine of peace and joy within them. So they were not disturbed by the outside world and had no sorrow – always calm and quite, always at peace. Because the peace we find from within ourselves, we will never get from things outside.

Let me give you another example from Sri Ramakrishna. You see a musk deer in a jungle. He runs here and there in the jungle to find where the sweet fragrance is coming from. The deer doesn’t know at all. Because of his ignorance he doesn’t know that the sweet fragrance is coming from ‘kasturi’ – his own naval! Without knowing this he is running, running, running, in the entire jungle. He got tired and could not find the source of the fragrance, and perishes like that. We are also like that – looking for peace outside all the time. Where will you find peace? In the club – drinking something? Or somewhere else? We keep running all the time! Time passes and we pass away! Like the deer.

So friends if we are looking for peace, let us find it in solitude. You will surely find it!

* Swami Sarvalokananda’s address at the Sri Ramana Maharashi Jayanti
Venue: Swami Vivekananda Auditorium of Ramakrishna Mission & Math Mumbai. Organized by: Ramana Satsang, Mumbai

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