To reflect on the importance of inviting silence into our lives if we are to proceed far on the Godward road as Swami says. Let’s begin with a short story:
Four monks decided to meditate silently without speaking for two weeks. By nightfall on the first day, the candle began to flicker and then went out. The first monk said, “Oh, no! The candle is out.” The second monk said, “Aren’t we not suppose to talk?” The third monk said, “Why must you two break the silence?” The fourth monk laughed and said, “Ha! I’m the only one who didn’t speak.”
And so ended the monks’ attempt to remain silent. An exaggerated identification with talking can lead to words pouring out of our mouths willy-nilly. What to do? Swami emphasizes the importance of cultivating silence in order to walk the spiritual path. He says:
Be silent yourself; that will induce silence in others. Do not fall into the habit of shouting, talking long and loud. Reduce contacts to the minimum. Carry with you an atmosphere of quiet contemplation wherever you happen to be. There are some who live in a perpetual hullabaloo, in a tornado of noise. Whether they are in an exhibition or a fair or a hotel or a temple of the Prashanti Nilayam, they wag their tongues and will not stop. These will not proceed far on the Godward road. (SSS V0L IV p190)
Why is silence said to be golden? The silent man has no enemies, though he may not have friends. He has the leisure and the chance to delve within himself and examine his own faults and feelings. He has no more inclination to seek them in others. (BTBOS p63)
Silence is the beginning of the art of communication. Learn to live in silence for some moments every day. Just sit in complete silence and listen for the Voice of God. You may not physically hear a voice because God can speak to you through silence and you will become aware of God message, even though you hear no voice. So let your mind rest in God in those moments of silence and then the thoughts will come into your mind. (FFWG p261)
Questions for Discussion:
Quote #1: Do you find you are often caught in a ‘perpetual hullabaloo’ or a ‘tornado of noise’? And if so, what habits can you change to remedy that?
Quote #2: Silence gives us the golden opportunity to go within and examine our own faults and feelings. When we do so, we no longer have the need to project them onto others often causing undue harm. Have you experienced that the more silent you become, the more tolerant you become of others?
Quote #3: Communication with God…how could anyone not desire that? In this quote, Swami explains in a direct simple way how we can listen to the Voice of God. Has this worked for you?
Reflect on your daily life. Would you like to invite more silence and less talk into your life? If so, ask yourself what changes you could make and begin to put it into practice. (Remember, don’t make any changes just because you think you SHOULD but rather because you WANT to.)
(key to citations: SSS -Sathya Sai Speaks, BTBOS – Baba the Breath of Sai, FFGW -Face to Face with God)