For the past few years, I have been spending sometime in silence during the summer and winter. I have spent a 100 days on silence till now. Though it is not in my nature to talk too much about inner experiences, I felt that these posts may be of value to young people who are interested in exploring various aspects of life. Anaadi Foundation blossomed from the deep realization that happened through these many days of mouna tapasya and the programs are designed to share deeper aspects of life in a way that is accessible to all. Through this particular series of posts, I will be sharing my experience of sound and silence. We will be looking at how “not speaking” is only a small part of mouna tapasya.
Silence is defined as the complete absence of sound as per the dictionary. Sound as per the Indian tradition is looked at multiple levels - para, pashyanti, madhyama and vaikhari — from inner to the outer. These can be understood in terms of sound at the level of gross outer sound, emotions, thoughts and desires-subtle — from the outer to the inner. There have been scientific experiments on how certain sounds produce beautiful patterns on vibrating sand. Scientists even say that flowers and patterns that we see around are because these objects vibrate with a certain sound.
Sound is so important in our lives — most of us now are used to outer sounds so much so that an absence of outer sound is deafening. It so happened that one of my relatives came to our home and in the absence of other sounds like vehicles the tick of the clock was perceived to be deafening. But sometimes we appreciate the absence of sound and feel it to be soothening. In fact we are truly able to appreciate sound (the various outer sounds we hear) only in the absence of it. Outer sound, if its melodious is acceptable and endearing. Otherwise it is termed noise. Noise can be at different levels of unacceptability. The sound that emanates from the mouth as speech is called Vaikhari. Since this is the grossest form of sound, we often try to reduce the energy expended through this process as a first step in mouna tapasya.
To be continued..