Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Silent Mind

Silence is a state of mind. I remember as a child hearing about and observing people practicing Mouna Vrata - the vow of silence. They would not speak for a day. The stress that this would cause around the person was hilarious. They would be sitting with a pen and paper handy - in case they needed to say something. They would have a bell or a steel bowl and spoon at hand to make a sound if they wanted attention. This misconception about the vow of silence being about keeping the mouth shut lasted in my mind for years.

I know now that the vow of silence is about silencing the mind. What a beautiful concept. The need to say nothing. In today's life where there is so much to excite my senses it is not an easy vow to keep. To practice silencing the mind each morning by meditating only on the breath and at the most on the sensations it brings in the body is a very calming experience. It takes time and conscious effort but each morning I find it becoming easier. Observing the turmoil in the mind as a bystander causes the chatter to stop and unknowingly draws the mind to my Ishta and Japa (out of sheer habit). I can then put my effort on paying attention to the breath. This process relaxes the body too. I become aware of the muscles that are tensed up and then they start relaxing. I am alert but relaxed. Silence follows with the shallowing of the breath and a chill runs through my body - a pleasant chill. This ends up distracting the mind - but with effort the mind can be drawn back again.

These short stints of silence often end in an understanding of an emotion or a thought that has been elusive. It is as if from the silence comes an experience of knowing. If I had to describe it in the physical realm it would be as if I am watching a flower bud blooming. Something happens from the inside out and there is that moment of AAHAA. This could be as simple as deciphering a single thought or the meaning of a, till now, incomprehensible book. These moments have given me an insight into forgiveness, envy, compassion, guilt, truth, hurt, trust, greed, love, relationships and many more such characteristics, emotions and feelings that were at best superficially understood till now. Sayings about a broken mirror, or once a liar always a liar, war and peace etc. make so much more sense now. The importance of compassion, acceptance, unconditional love and forgiveness for my own inner peace is clearer today. There was an understanding of the need for these before but now I know they are key to cleansing my mind. These experiences are like applying an icepack to a fevered head. There is an instantaneous cessation of the turmoil in the mind. These discoveries in turn make the mind more silent. This is the cycle that I look forward to experiencing each morning. The vicious cycle of negative thoughts pulling me down is slowly but surely reversing. The cycle I find myself in is neither negative nor positive it is simply uplifting.

Life experiences have made it possible for me to get here. Experiences that I have labeled as positive or negative in the past are now free of their labels. They are just experiences that have opened up avenues in my inward journey that would have remained closed. Experiences and the inherent power of the spirit have shown me a path to knowing myself. The ego feels wounded and defeated but I feel good. The purpose of my existence in the physical realm is self discovery and unless I can watch over my ego and keep it in check this purpose cannot be fulfilled. I am so blessed to have a few hours just to myself each day. These hours are my most precious as I am able to use them to meditate, contemplate, and write. I am traversing a path that has been fulfilling and I look forward to continuing along this path of self discovery. I want to get to the end of the path where the discovery stops, the cycles are non- existent and the Truth and I become one. When the writing stops I will be there.

Inner Silence is my greatest reward for choosing to be silent.


  1. Here is a comment from my son Avik Basu.

    "I don't think there is an end to the path (i.e. the theoretical point at which discovery stops). An end implies that the depth of life is finite. It isn't -- regardless of how limited the length of it might be. I think the path you discover winds infinitely around the timeline you live; discovery only stops as a consequence of the timeline running out. Instead of looking for the end, maybe enjoy the knowledge that you never run out of ways to surprise yourself with discovery"

  2. You have a wonderful gift of being able to write. You arrange words together in such a way that I feel inspired and want to be where you are emotionally speaking. Thank you for your writing because you have inspired me to make meditation a priority and becoming still a requirement in my world.

    (From a good friend)


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