Zen masters pose riddles to invoke one’s awareness. They call these riddles koans. One of the most famous koans goes like this: what is the sound of one hand clapping?
There is no logical answer to a koan. Whatever answers one provides from the mind would not be the right one. The answer is experiential. It must come from within.
So too, the sound of silence.
I know of people in India and elsewhere who observe long periods of silence. During the silence they communicate by writing.
A well-known Buddhist monk came out of his three-month long silence to greet an enthusiastic group of disciples. He came out smiling and said, ‘Oh, good to see you all. I don’t feel i have been out of touch with you at all.’
A journalist present asked, ‘ master, how did you keep in touch with your disciples since you never spoke and did not see anyone?’
‘Ah, i text all the time!’ laughed the monk.
Silence is about stilling the mind, not the mouth.
Stilling the mind expands our awareness. We see better, we hear more keenly, we smell new smells, we taste flavors unknown and we feel every part of our body intensely. We communicate within and without far more effectively.
Many great men communicated in silence. People who sat with them in silence went away transformed. One such master was Maharishi Ramana, who lived in a little known town called Thiruvannamalai in South India.
What can you and i do in silence and with silence?
Allot yourself 20 minutes a day when you stay silent out of touch with your senses. No phones, no one around and if you have a tendency to peep through closed eyes, wrap a cloth around your head to blindfold yourself. When the senses stay out of action, there is no feed to the mind.
Yet, the mind races. It has enough stored food within. Within closed eyes you can see video clips. You hear matching audio. When it chooses to, your mind can become a home entertainment center.
You cannot stop this. What you can do is not to get involved. Move from one thought to another. Do not get stuck with one and follow it. Just be a witness. Don’t become a player.
With practice and if you are serious, within a week, your mind will give up. There will be less movies, less audio and fewer thoughts. You will start experiencing the sound of silence.
In this silence another world opens up. A world where you are more aware. You seem to find opportunities where none existed before. You know now how to convert these opportunities into beneficial results.
We are not talking spirituality here. We are talking material reality of health, wealth, name and fame.
That’s the destination of the path of silence.