Many of my friends and initiates in all continents write me asking, “Swamiji, how is your silence going?” I am tempted to answer, “How is your talking going?”
Majority have a not five-year but life-long vow of talking. To many, silence is something not so natural. To others, seekers after truth and serenity, silence is the nature from which we have emerged and into which we will dissolve. Through all our externalised sense operations, an inner substratum of a silent stream continues to flow. Some of us have chosen to take a dip into that stream.
Some treat my five year vow as ‘heroic’ or something I have done; perhaps an act of tremendous self-denial! The fact is that I have chosen to indulge into this pleasure.
Yes, my indulgence in this pleasure is going very well but it is not accomplishing all that I had meant to accomplish through it. My hope was to be free of all involvements in matters of the organization and the Ashram. Few leaders have taken over certain areas of these and freed me to a certain extent, but not yet fully, and there are still hundred e-mails a day, all needing attention. So also matters relating to the Ashram. I manage to give thoughts and suggestions in writing but I would rather write instead my Vedic poetry that flows in moments of silent contemplations.
One thing I find unpleasant is anyone talking in my presence. I want total silence but people around me go on chattering and do not always even realize when I am inwardly tuned and my solitude needs to be accepted.
I do speak sometimes (a) giving guided meditation or initiation to a very select rare few and (b) in blessing children under 8. I find hugging a child a great experience in silence and it enriches me and enhances my silence. There is no better lesson in mind’s silence than hugging a child.
Silence has helped conserve the shakti in many ways. It has helped improve the physical strength of this 80 years old body and when I do give the rare initiations and guided meditations, the energy manifests itself. This is because my Guru has taught me how to absorb the shakti and assimilate it and not waste it all the time in talking, chattering and idle pursuits. Instead of ex-pressing, I have chosen to im-press this energy into myself and it grants a subtle joy and serenity.
Swamiji, how did this idea of a five year silence come to you?—people ask. It came when I was perhaps six years old. My father and I had gone for an evening walk on Rajpur Road in Dehradun where I was born. We were going uphill. From the opposite side was walking down our neighbour Pandit Dharmadeva Shastri, a philosophy teacher at the Gurukula where we lived. Later he established one of the most important relief Ashrams for lepers under Gandhiji’s guidance (another inspiration that remained waiting to be realized until KHEL was established).
He, coming downhill, was accompanied by a Swami in saffron robes with a brilliantly shining face. Pandit Dharmadeva knew of my father’s interest in yogis. He introduced us to the Swami and told us that he met him sitting by the roadside. He was a silent swami and had not spoken a word for 25 years while living in the mountains doing sadhana. I cannot remember his name. There is more to this story but here this much suffices. That was my first inspiration. I knew then that it was something to aspire for and that some day I would take a 25 year vow of silence. My ambition remains unfulfilled.
Since then I have met a few silent swamis and each one has left a spark of inspiration, strengthening my ambition. My friend Swami Chandra who has an Ashram at the bank of the river Yamuna in Domet village near the mountains has not spoken a word for over 27 years. I often send our ashram members and visitors to visit his Ashram.
Majority cannot imagine for those who are inwardly attuned, how difficult and unnatural it is to have that attunement interrupted and to fulfil the world’s demands that you become outwardly tuned.
I wish these five years are never over but I know they will end. 138 days are already gone, too fast. When five years pass, it will be painful to speak again, a major effort of will.
I wish for the people of the whole world to learn to enter the profundity that is silence.