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Silence is the Way


The existence that one is able to see, hear, smell, taste and touch through the five senses is essentially a product of reverberations, a play of sound or nada. The body and mind of a human being are also reverberations. But body and mind are not an end in themselves – they are just the outer peel of a possibility. Most people do not go beyond the peel; they sit on the threshold of the doorway their whole lives. But the purpose of a doorway is to enter. To experience that which is beyond this doorway, the practice of silence is referred to as maun.

­The English word silence doesn’t really say much. In the Sanskrit language there are many words for silence. Maun and nishabd are two significant words. Maun means silence as we generally know it – you don’t speak; it is an attempt to create nishabd. Nishabd means that which is not sound – beyond body, mind and all creation. Beyond sound does not mean absence of sound, but transcending sound.

It is a scientific fact that existence is a reverberation of energy. All vibrations in human experience translate into sound. Every form in the creation has a corresponding sound. This complex amalgamation of sounds is what we are experiencing as creation. The basis of all sound is nishabd. Maun is an attempt to transit from being a piece of creation to the source of creation. This attribute-less, dimension-less and boundless state of existence and experience is the aspiration of yoga: union. Nishabd would suggest nothingness. The word nothing has a negative connotation. You would probably understand it better if you put a hyphen between no and thing; it is a no-thing.

Sound is of the surface, silence is of the core. The core is a total absence of sound. Absence of sound means absence of reverberation, life, death, creation; absence of creation in one’s experience leads to an enormous presence of the source of creation. So, a space which is beyond creation, a dimension which is beyond life and death, is what is referred to as silence or nishabd. One cannot do this; one can only become this.

There is a difference between practicing silence and becoming silence. If you are practicing something, obviously you are not that. Consciously aspiring for silence, there is a possibility of becoming silence.

Mauni amavasya is the second after the winter solstice or the one before Mahashivarathri. It is a generally known fact even to illiterate farmers in our country that during the period of amavasya or new moon, sprouting of seeds and plant growth slows down. The sap in a plant faces an uphill task to reach the top and so it is in a human being who has a vertical spine. During these particular three months, from solstice to Mahashivarathri, the phase one of Uttarayana, in latitudes ranging from 0º to 33ºN, the impact of both full moon and new moon is in an enhanced state.

Yogic traditions have various processes of making use of this assistance that nature is offering. One of these is to maintain silence from Mauni to Mahashivarathri. This period is of a much greater significance this year as it marks the twelve year solar cycle and there is a great influence upon all water bodies and water vortexes. Not to forget that our body is the most intimate water body that we know, it being over 70 per cent water.

Cycles of the solar and lunar system are the basic concept of time in human experience. The choice of either riding the cycles of time or to be trapped in endless cycles of time is the choice one has to make. This time and day offers a great opportunity
to transcend.

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