Weekly Food For Thought

The Healing Power of Silence

 Every one of us has probably felt the beneficial influence of silence. Even the busiest people need to have breaks of silence in their work. Silence seems to be a necessary factor in our lives, yet we do not always realize the implications of the quietness we unconsciously seek and enjoy. The experience of deep sleep proves our need for silence. We may be very busy throughout the day, but at night we hanker for that hour when everything—our sense perceptions, responsibilities, thoughts, worries, emotions, desires, hopes—is left behind. What is sleep? Is it not silence? In sleep nothing disturbs us. Even though we leave everything behind, including body consciousness, we enjoy the experience.

God has combined noise and silence, activity, and rest; it is the plan of nature. Look at the boundless space outside. Scientists say that space is vast, containing millions and millions of stars with their planets, galactic systems, and nebulae. Yet this stellar universe is very small compared to the immensity of empty space. If by some cosmic disorder all the celestial bodies were to collide and be annihilated, the vastness of space would not be affected in the least. And what is this vast space? Is it not characterized by an immeasurable silence?

More important than outward silence is inward silence, and that is not so easily available to us. Just as when we look outside and see a vast universe interwoven with activities and quietude, our internal world has both action and silence. When we look into the mind we ordinarily see only the surface phenomena—thoughts, feelings, and desires. We must make additional effort to experience that inner silence, the silence of the mind; we must silence our inordinate desires and passions. The background of silence escapes our notice. If we can come in touch with that inner realm of silence, our mental troubles can be healed.

Spiritual life is essentially a life of silence. It means learning to experience deepening, chastening states of inner quietude. The healing power of spiritual silence can be found through love of God, unselfish actions or by the Vedantic reflective analysis of seer and seen.

When we discover our true Self through the process of elimination “not this, not this”, we find that it can never actually be confused with the non-Self. No illness, no passion, no death, no frustration, no suffering can ever disturb the eternal stillness of the Self. That is the end of all ignorance, or maya. We have reached the center of tranquility, the source of infinite security and happiness. We have attained the culmination of healing by being one with Silence, untouched by any noise or imperfection.

When we finally know this truth, we will also know that what we had previously eliminated as not being part of us is actually within us. There is no such thing as duality. There is only one homogeneous unity, and that is the Self. Distinctions of external and internal vanish at that stage, and it is no longer necessary to call the Self “silence” because without the opposition of noise, or movements, there cannot be any concept of “silence.”Everything that is, is in the Self. Everything is the Self. Whatever names and words and ideas we use are included in the Self. That is the highest truth, and the steps to that highest truth are to be gained through the experiences of the different kinds of silence, beginning with external silence. Through all these stages, silence becomes a progressively greater healing power in our lives until ultimately it reaches its culmination in the Truth, which is our true Self.    

Weekly Food For Thought

Happiness is Our Essential Being

By Michael James

Happiness lies deep within us, in the very core of our being. Happiness does not exist in any external object, but only in us, who are the consciousness that experiences happiness. Though we seem to derive happiness from external objects or experiences, the happiness that we thus enjoy in fact arises from within us. Not only does happiness exist within us — it is in fact our true nature, our essential being.

Whatever turmoil our mind may be in, in the center of our being there always exists a state of perfect peace and joy, like the calm in the eye of a storm. Desire and fear agitate our mind, and obscure from its vision the happiness that always exists within it. When a desire is satisfied, or the cause of a fear is removed, the surface agitation of our mind subsides, and in that temporary calm our mind enjoys a taste of its own innate happiness.

Happiness is thus a state of being — a state in which our mind’s habitual agitation is calmed. It is the state in which all mental activity has subsided in the clarity of unobstructed self-consciousness. Since, it can be experienced perfectly only in the state in which we are conscious merely of our own essential being and not of any thoughts or objects, true happiness or peace is beyond all mental comprehension.

To experience such true self-knowledge, we must withdraw our attention from everything other than ourselves and focus it wholly and exclusively upon our own essential being, which we always experience in the form of our fundamental consciousness — our primary knowledge ‘I am’.

Until and unless we attend to our innermost self in this manner, we cannot know who or what we really are, and unless we thereby experience a clear and certain knowledge of what we really are, we cannot be certain about the reality or validity of any knowledge that we may appear to have about other things. All our knowledge about the world and God — about science, religion, philosophy, physics, cosmology, psychology, theology or any other branch of human knowledge — is open to serious doubt so long as our knowledge about ourselves — the consciousness by which all those other things are known — is confused and uncertain.

Therefore, if we wish to experience permanent and unqualified happiness, or to attain knowledge about which we can be absolutely certain, we must focus our whole attention keenly upon ourselves, our fundamental consciousness of our own essential being, ‘I am’, in order to ascertain who or what we really are. Such in brief is the simple but profound truth revealed by Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.