There is a story about Silence. Once there was a Guru who had four disciples, who were observing a period of silence. In the evening after their meditation, the four disciples were taking a nature walk; just as we do here in the Ashram.
Now, it is usually a habit to go around in groups instead of being alone during these walks. So, all four of them decided to walk together. When they came to a point, one of them said, “Wow, The weather is so pleasant, and there is such a beautiful sunset before us. The environment is so peaceful”.
Hearing this, the second disciple said, “My dear, you have broken your silence by speaking”. The third disciple saw this and remarked, “I am going to complain to Gurudev about you two for breaking your silence”.
The fourth one said “I am the only one here who is maintaining a really good silence.”
During Silence, we should not do such things. Silence is bringing the mind together. It is about collecting and steadying the mind which is scattered. When you sit idly, you will see that your mind runs off in so many directions, it is scattered everywhere. Gathering the mind and retrieving it back to the centre is silence. Silence is moving the mind away from all external actions and influences that one has due to what one may have heard, or seen, or smelt, or experienced, and focusing one’s sight and attention to the centre, to oneself.
Silence is not just about keeping quiet all the time. No, silence means that one need not read or write anything as well. Silence brings enormous strength, and when you are in silence, you should keep smiling. For many people, silence means keeping a long serious face. You do not need to do that. Give a smile to yourself. Smiling at yourself is silence. Silence involves cutting off from all that is around us for a while; cutting off from the world we have been living in and getting back to the central point of our existence.
When you are observing silence for the first time, there will be restlessness, and all sorts of thoughts, worries and concerns may come up on the surface. Regrets may come, many plans and ideas may also pop up in the mind. You just keep them all aside. It is alright for that to happen. When it happens, you do not need to fight or struggle with it. Just agree with them all and say to yourself, “It is alright. I will look into it after coming out of silence”, and come back to the centre.
I know it is very difficult for the first time, or maybe even the second time when you are observing silence. It is because you are so used to activity all the time. As soon as you wake up, you are engaged in activity till you get so tired that you want to just fall asleep. Some people do activity even in their sleep too! That is a different issue. What I am saying is: we have not known rest properly. Silence is a way to go deep within and find the deepest rest.
You can write down all your wants, your botherations and put it in the basket during the course. Do not worry about anything that is bothering you. I tell you, it will be taken care of. That is why you need a Guru to go into Silence, to go deep into meditation and also on the path of spirituality, because you cannot go into silence properly with all your problems, botherations and other things that trouble your mind.
Your Gurudev will tell you, “You do not need to worry about your botherations. I am with you. I will handle all your problems, you simply relax, meditate and go into silence”. When you get this assurance, you feel comfortable. Then it becomes easier for you to go into silence.
In Buddhist monasteries, you must have seen the image of Lord Buddha sitting peacefully in meditation with one hand raised in Abhaya Mudra.
If you go to any temple, you will find that the idol of the deity is seated with one hand in Abhaya Mudra, which means to say “My dear, do not worry and drop all your fears. You need not struggle with your fears and worries. Drop everything here and just relax”. This is an opportunity for you to be happy and go peacefully into silence.
That is why, before you go into silence or before you start your meditation, write down any botheration that arises and put it in the basket. If there are any wants, desires or questions that you have, write them down and put it in the basket.
We keep one more basket for you to express gratitude. On the last day of the course, many participants come forward saying, “Gurudev, we do not have any botherations or questions as such. But we do have wonderful stories to share. We feel so grateful at the end of this course. What do we do to express this?”
So I said, “Okay, we will also keep a gratitude basket in the course. Each one of you have many good things happening to you, and I know how deeply grateful you are for it. You can write your gratefulness and put that also in the basket. This is the way to go into silence".
When you spend time alone with Nature, with plants, trees and animals, you will see that you do not get too many thoughts in your mind. But when we see someone’s face, then suddenly cravings and aversions arise in us. Nature never creates or incites cravings and aversions in us. It is only people who do so. This is the time for you to be with Nature – with your own nature, and also with Mother Nature outside. Do not make signs when you see people. If it is very urgent only then you may communicate using a bit of sign language, otherwise maintain your silence.
Another thing that I want to tell you is: Just look back at everything that has happened in your life till now. Is it not like a dream? You went to school, grew up and went to college, and so on. Whatever has happened in your life till this very moment – does it not all appear to be a dream?
Whatever happened has happened and is over. It does not exist anymore. You arrived in the morning today, then had your lunch and then came to attend satsang. Just reflect on everything gone by till now. Has it all not dissolved and disappeared in the waves of time? It is all gone. After some time you will retire to your rooms, and you will come to the session tomorrow and day after, and then you will eventually return to your homes. In this way, another 10 or 20 years more will pass by. Does it not all look like a dream? Just wake up and see.
Whatever money you have earned till now will remain safe in the bank, but one day you will die and pass on. People will cremate your body and offer the ashes into the river Ganga. Or people will bury you in the ground, and after the last rites they will all return to their homes. That’s it, the story will come to an end. This is surely going to happen, there is no escaping this truth. Life is going to come to an end one day. There will be some happy days, there will be some unhappy days, but anyway life will be finished one day or another. When you realize that everything is going to be over one day, something within you wakes up. It will not be tomorrow, it has to be at this very moment, right now! You have to wake up now, this very moment, and see – that there is something in you that is the eternal peace, which nothing can shake or destroy. The deep seated contentment, joy, love – all that springs in the present moment. This is very important.
When Self-knowledge dawns, there is no worry, there is no more conflict or duality in the mind. There is no bondage of aversions or cravings anymore. Then there is only joy, and bliss in every moment, and one experiences deep love all around.
Once Adi Shankara said that the whole world is all illusion, everything is maya, it is not real, it is dream-like. Just now, wake up and see, all that has happened until this moment, is it there anymore? It is all gone, everything. This morning, when you had breakfast, is it not like a dream for you now? Just think of this morning, is it not like a dream? It’s all gone. Could this be a dream? Just project your mind on the future. You are going to go sleep, and then come back tomorrow, this is all like a dream.
Another 10-20 years will pass, one day you will be under the ground or as ashes, everything will be done. Is it not like a dream? That is what Adi Shankara was saying - life, the whole universe is all made up of one thing. He was talking Quantum Physics.
Do you know what Maya means? It means that which can be measured. This whole world can be measured. Thus, whatever you can measure is all temporary, it is not permanent, because measurement is always relative. You may measure something here, you measure the same thing on the moon or in another space, it will measure differently. Vedanta said the same thing, what science says, millenniums ago.
Once, when Adi Shankara was walking, a crazy elephant started chasing him, so Shankara ran for shelter. Someone asked him, "Why are you running, the elephant is Maya, it is an illusion!"
Do you know what he said? He said, "Yes, the elephant is an illusion, my running is also an illusion". So, different levels of reality exist. You need a dream gun to shoot a dream tiger, from a real gun you cannot shoot a dream tiger.
I am tempted to share another incident. There is a very well known psychic and astrologer who came to our program one day. On the second day he came with bandages on his legs. When I asked if he got into an accident, he said, "No, I didn’t go anywhere". At night, he saw a dog or a tiger in his dream, and kicked the wall so hard to run away from the animal, that he woke up with a fractured leg. The psychic had a fractured leg the next morning when he tried to kick the dream tiger with his real leg. So be careful on that count, okay?
Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. You have heard that before, right? Pain is nothing but an intense sensation. Yet, do not justify or encourage pain. Some people start justifying and encouraging pain, and that is where masochism starts. You need to stay clear of masochism, and that is why I would say if pain comes, it has come due to some karma, that's it, move on.
The principle of karma is such a healthy thing to save the mind. It's such a good vaccination for the mind. When you say karma, then you are able to let go and move on, otherwise you brood over whatever has happened in the past,and you try to link things with some cause.
If you look back, whatever you thought as cause is also an effect, it is not the cause. Every time you fix something as the cause of an effect, you have erred. You have seen that it is not true; it has not stood the test of time. No cause has stood the test of time because every cause is an effect. This is the spiritual way. When you think in this direction and go deeper to the ultimate cause, you find that there is only one thing that is the cause of the entire existence. With this one realization, your peace can never be taken away by anybody or any incident on the planet; nothing can move you if you know the cause!
That is why there is a beautiful verse in Sanskrit,"Tasmai nama parama karana karanaya", Shiva, you are the cause of all causes, the grand time that is beyond time, otherwise we keep going round in this cycle of karma.
Yes, it can be little confusing if you don't pay very keen attention to what I am saying. One is karma, i.e., cause and effect. Another is going beyond karma; how do you get out of the cycle of karma? Are you getting this? You have to ponder on this once more. This principle of karma is a big blessing for you to let go and move further.
Once upon a time, Gautam Buddha visits a town. The entire town gathers and is waiting to listen to him, but he goes on waiting. He keeps looking backwards at the road, expecting a little 13 year old girl to come. He happened to meet her on the road and she had told him – “Wait for me. I am going to give this food to my father at the farm, but I will be back in time. Don’t forget, wait for me!”
Finally, the elders of the town said to Gautam Buddha – “For whom are you waiting? Everybody important is present, you can start your discourse.” Buddha replied – “But the person for whom I have come so far is not present yet and I have to wait.”
Finally the girl arrives and exclaims – “I am a little late, but you kept your promise! I knew you would keep your promise because I have been waiting for you since my first memory as a child, when I first became aware… I think I was four years old when I first heard your name. Your name was enough to ring a bell in my heart. And since then for ten long years…I have been waiting!!!”
Buddha responded – “You have not been waiting in vain. You are the person who has attracted me to this village.”
At the end of his discourse, that little girl was the only one who goes to him and says: “Initiate me. I have waited enough, and now I want to be with you.” Buddha replied “You have to be with me because your town is so far out! I cannot keep coming again and again. The road is long, and I am getting old!”
In that entire town not a single person came up to him be initiated into meditation, other than that little girl.
At night as they were getting ready to sleep, Buddha’s chief disciple Ananda asked Buddha “Master, before you go to sleep I want to ask you one question. Do you feel a certain pull towards a certain space… just like a magnetic pull?”
Buddha replied, “You are right Ananda. That is how I decide my journeys. When I feel someone is thirsty…so thirsty that without me, there is no other way for them… I have to move in that direction.”
Master moves towards the disciple and the disciple also moves towards the master. Sooner or later they are bound to meet. The meeting is not of the body, the meeting is not of the mind. The meeting is of the very soul!
It is like when you bring two lamps close to each other; the lamps remain separate but their flames become one.
The ancient rishis were so deeply intelligent that they chose to express Divinity in terms of symbols rather than words, since words change over time, but symbols remain unchanged. When we worship Lord Ganesha the qualities that he represents get kindled within us.
Gana : Signifies the ultimate truth that this existing world is nothing but a collection of molecules. This is called as ‘Gana’ (collective form). Our own body is a ‘Gana’. It is made up of flesh, blood and bone marrow. Thus the Lord of all 'Ganas' is Ganesha.
Elephant-head: Signifies authority, endurance, strength and courage.
Mouse as a vehicle: Signifies the mouse nibbling away at ropes that bind. Just like a mantra which can cut through sheets and sheets of ignorance and carry even an elephant through.
Big Belly: Signifies generosity and total acceptance.
Single tusk: Signifies one-pointedness.
Upraised hand : Depicts protection.
Lowered hand : Signifies endless giving and and also symbolizes the fact that we will all dissolve into the earth one day.
Riddhi & Siddhi wives of Lord Ganesha: Signifies that both Riddhi (intelligence) and Siddhi(enhanced abilities) go together with wisdom. Lord Ganesha is considered to be the Lord of Wisdom.
Ankusha and noose : The Ankusha (the goad/stick that is used to prod an elephant awake) signifies ‘awakening’ and the ‘Paasa’ (the noose) which signifies control. Together they signify that with inner-awakening, a lot of energy is released which can go haywire without proper guidance (control) .
Modak: The ‘Modak’ in Ganesha’s hand is the attainment of the ‘Ultimate Bliss’.