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Silence is essential for self perfection

abracad, · Categories: externally authored, spirituality

By Lt Col RK Langar

In Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna states “Of all the secrets I am silence”. In Upanishad silence has been described as a means to know God. Upanishad says “Silence is Brahman, Ultimate Reality is Brahman, Atma is pure silence, Ultimate Reality being beyond speech, silence is the only way of expressing it”. It is well known that silence plays a vital role in one’s spiritual growth. In silence one goes deep into the inner core of one’s personality to feel the spark of God within. A silent mind is a meditative mind. It generates new ideas. In prayers you speak to God, in silence God speaks to you. Greatest minds are silent mind. Silence develops will power, conserves energy and makes one creative. Silence is to mind what sleep is to body. Silences energize the mind. It is the austerity of mind. External silence is one thing, one can make his room sound proof. But what is more important is inner silence where one becomes refined inwardly. In a conversation when you are silent, you are listening to others and you get opportunities which you lose while you are talking. Listening helps one to gain knowledge and achieve silence. Listening also gives a message that I care for you. Listening contributes fifty percent of effective conversation. Silence does not mean physical inertness, silence is an active experience where power of intuition unfolds. Silence is also a means to avoid confrontation. Silence teaches you to meditate where you summon all energies to one idea and convert your observation into vision. When man completes his journey from words to silence then he is on his way to enlightenment. Swami Vivekananda says that out of purity and silence comes the power of words.

Silence is another way to give an answer. When Buddha was asked if God existed, he maintained silence. The questioner then told Buddha that his silence meant that God does not exist. Buddha said ‘I did not say that’ and again maintained silence. By remaining silent Buddha avoided any metaphysical discussion, which according to him, was not necessary for one’s progress in life. That is why silence is regarded as greater than speech. When one goes deep into silence one does not even think. This is also a form of yoga. Patanjali defines silence as cessation of thinking principle. Christianity advises man to be still to know ‘I am God’. Silence gives calmness peace and stillness which are aids to purify mind. Calmness like sleep refreshes you. Silence supersedes hatred and harsh words, destroys anger and at the same time increases our faith in God. A mystic poet says “I searched him on hills and mountains but He was not found. But when I looked inside in silence I found him”.

Some of our saints like Maharishi Raman, Vinobha Bhave and Sri Aurobindo practiced silence for long spells even after they attained perfection. Maharishi Raman is described as an epitome of silence. He taught Vichara Marg or path of self enquiry (Who Am I), which can only be practiced in silence. In the Upanishad there is a beautiful episode to underscore the importance of silence. The disciple asks his teacher to tell him about Brahman. The teacher maintains silence instead of giving a reply. When the disciple repeats his question, the teacher maintains silence again. Not satisfied the disciple asks the teacher for the third time but the teacher again maintains silence. Now the disciple realizes that the nature of Brahman is unthinkable and unexplainable and so he does not repeat his question again. But instead he practices silence and finds an answer to his query.

To practice silence one must observe silence for sometime during the day. First practice silence in words, even though when mind is not quiet. Another ways of practicing silence of words is to carry out a day to day assessment of yourself in your mind. Then try to speak as little as possible avoiding unnecessary conversation. Also remember that whatever you speak should exhibit the quality of your mind. Develop a habit of reading – it automatically silences you. One should learn the art of holding the words in the mouth if the words we are going to speak are of little consequence. The golden rule is to listen more and talk less. Silence is a great virtue. It avoids unnecessary discussions and disputes. Silence is not just closing your lips and abstaining from talking. It is much more than that. Real silence is when you have silenced your passions, desires, attachment and ill feelings. True silence means total self transformation of oneself.

Enlightened people require speech to spread knowledge and goodness all around. If such people observe long spells of silence that will not be useful to the humanity because it would be deprived of wisdom. For instance if Swami Vivakananda had observed silence for a long time the world would have missed some of his greatest lessons on Vedanta and human behavior. When you know something which would be beneficial to the society, break silence and let others know it.


Filed in: externally authored, spirituality

One Response to “Silence is essential for self perfection”

  1. gary says:

    Thank you. Wonderfully written and inspiring.

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