Question: What is Silence?
Acharya Prashant: Silence is that which you want, really-really want, when you move from one type of noise to the other type. That is Silence. But because all your experience has only been about noise, so even when you are thirsty and craving for Silence, all you can deliberately move towards is; some kind of noise, apparently a more pleasant kind of noise, apparently a more agreeable kind of noise, a newer kind of noise. But Silence is the thirst of your mind.
Silence is that which is your essential state, that which you deeply do know.
And because you know it, because your familiarity with it is very-very intimate, hence you cannot forget it. You will keep looking for it. Stuttering from one kind of noise to the other, and then to the next kind, and then to the next kind, you would always be searching for Silence, always. Like a man who has been trained in noise. So he is changing one radio-station after the other, and never feeling satisfied with any particular channel or station.
He does not know what he is really wanting. And he does not know why no channel pleases him. He listens to songs, the songs don’t please him. He listens to news bulletins, they don’t please him. He listens to the commentary of match, that too does not please him. He listens to a talk show, it does not please him. And he is changing one channel after the other. And it does not occur to him that all he wants is – freedom from these channels. He wants freedom from noise. He wants Silence. It cannot occur to him, because Silence is not a thought.
Whenever he would think, he would think of a different kind of noise.
And we have become so used to working only as per thought, that we take each and every step after due deliberation and thought, which leads us to a newer kind of noise, Which is not really new, obviously. That’s all.
We too have been changing, flipping one channel after the other. Have we not been? One property to the other property, one woman to another woman, one excitement to another, one piece of clothing to another, one tourist destination to another destination. And we have never come to the last destination. We have never come to a point where we can settle. Nothing really pleases us. And the proof of that is, that the search continues. The search continues, and the search is fueled by our sub-conscious frustration. The society calls that – the urge of achievement, ambition.
If you are a little realistic, you will realize that it is just your inbuilt frustration which does not allow you to stop, which does not allow you to settle down. Like a frog on a hot pan, you keep jumping from one place to another, thinking that the next place is going to bring you relief.
From school you try hard to get into college, thinking that college would give you what you want. The college doesn’t really give you that. At the end of college, if you remember, you were as anxious as you were at the time of entering the college. So many of you here are engineers. Remember the last days of your B. Tech., were you not as anxious in your last day of B. Tech. as you were in the last days of your class twelfth? Then what did engineering give you?
We don’t even look carefully at our own experience. You were anxious when you were in the last days of your class twelfth, you were anxious when you entered engineering, and you were equally anxious when you were passing out. Yes, the objects of anxiety might have changed.
After class twelfth you were anxious whether you would get admission into a decent place, and after B. Tech. you were anxious whether you would get admission into decent corporation. But you were as anxious as before. And then when you were in your job, do you remember how anxious you were before you were compelled to resign?
One never resigns out of happiness. You surely were missing something, that is why you resigned. The other job was offering you some hope, that is why you resigned. You resigned because you were suffering. You may say, “No, no. It is just that the other place was better, so to search for better career opportunities I resigned.” But the mind works only relatively. What else is pain? Pain and pleasure are not different dimensions; they are just degrees, just degrees, relative to each other.
And then after having changed one job after the other, you still found no relief. Then you decide, “Let me marry. May be marriage will give me some relief.” And now after marriage you find that you are as anxious as you were ten years back. Nothing has really changed. But you are an idiot, and you will not learn. Now you will produce kids, thinking that the baby will bring something new to your life. And because your life is rotten, you will bring another rotten life to existence. Is that not your pet logic- “Life is dull and boring, so let’s do a kid”?
“Life lacks any kind of warmth, passion, love, intimacy, may be a baby can give that to us.”
You are so poor. You depend on a three kilograms baby to give you the essentials of life. Thirty-five years old you are, and you could not earn it in thirty-five years, the three kilograms baby will give it you? Idiot!
And then after a baby, you will do another baby, thinking that the baby is feeling so lonely. “Only one engine is working. Ours must be a twin-engine aircraft. Let me also fire the second engine, and then maybe I can have some kind of escape velocity, and beat gravitation.” Now the second baby is also firing, from the wrong end of the elementary canal, and you are busy wiping all that the two babies are together firing. Is it any wonder that life stinks? Earlier it was the husband that would stink, the wife that would stinks, now it’s the family that stinks. A happy, complete nest!!
But still you are not content. You think something more is needed. So you build a grand mansion for yourself. You say, “May be this is what will bring relief to me. So let me build one house.” Now one house is not sufficient, so you build another house. But look at your face. Five houses, and still your face is so forlorn, so ugly. Have these five houses given you anything? Have they given you anything? Look at your face, look at your life. But we are taught to be hopeful, right?
“These five houses must have been a mistake. Now I realize this Sir. You were very right. I will purchase the sixth house with caution. Thank you for all the enlightenment you showered on me. Let me dial the property dealer now!”
You don’t want to come out of this foolish game. You don’t want to drop out of this stupidity. A dry life one lives, and equally dryly one dies. It’s such a sad death. You have wasted this grand opportunity called ‘life’. Such a sad death!
There is nothing more miserable and pitiable than the face of someone who has spent his entire life without having tasted the real. It is the worst tragedy that can befall a man. Kindly do not allow this to happen to you.
~ Excerpts from a Shabd-Yog session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session at: What is Silence? | YouTube
Read more articles on this topic:
- How do I retain this beautiful silence?
- Why do thoughts keep changing?
- The false promise of fulfillment through experience.