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Sound and Silence: Part 1

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..

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