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Sweetness of Silence

Modern life has created many diseases in us. One among them is the inability to bear silence. Wherever I may go, it is my habit to observe people to see how they conduct themselves. When they come back home from work, the first thing they usually do after stepping into the house is switching on the TV or turning the internet on. They do this, even before going to the washroom. I rarely see people who remain peaceful, maintain silence and just relax unto themselves.

In a train journey, especially in India, a person needs to get involved in something like listening to music, playing cards, viewing movies on laptop or surfing the net. “Getting bored” is a term that is frequently uttered nowadays. A girl I know visited a village. Unable to bear the village life, she returned to her city in a couple of days, ignoring the plea of her relatives. It is surprising to say that we are reaching a state where we cannot withstand silence. But this is a fact.

Cell phone is a tool for communication. But it is being used as a tool to escape from boredom. When one has nothing to do he picks up his mobile phone and calls other people to start a conversation – “What’s up? Did you eat? Did you wake up? Did you sleep? I’m currently at a movie theater. Movie has not yet started. It will start in sometime. By the way, is it raining in your part of the city? It is very hot up here. OK then”. Thus we can see many of them passing time in meaningless talk.

When I see all this, it occurs to me that we are forgetting the art of staying calm within ourselves. We want something all the time. We always want to talk to someone. We constantly need to do something or the other but do not know what to do. We cannot sit peacefully for ten minutes. The feelings of restlessness, vexation and instability are increasing in people everywhere. The modern tools and gadgets are only adding fuel to fire. Companies flourish by catering to this restlessness of people; but man is getting alienated from himself day by day and getting caught in an unknown whirlpool.

Man has reached a state where he cannot bear silence anymore. He becomes restless if he remains silent. In order to break his boredom, something like a television or internet is needed. If he does not find anything to do he goes to a cafe to chit chat with someone over there. Most of the people are not in a state where they can remain calm without immersing themselves in a gadget.

Modern electronic tools may be necessary. But one should not reach a state where he cannot live without them. He should not fall prey to restlessness. He should be able to stay calm even if surrounded by nothingness. Bhagavad Gita says - nirdvandvō nitya satvastō niryōga kṣēma ātmavān.

The first word is - nirdvandvō. It means, absence of the other. It shows aloneness.

The second word is - nitya satvastō. It means, always rooted in peacefulness.

The third word is - niryōga kṣēma. It means, one who has no worry of future.

The fourth word is - ātmavān. It means, one who is rooted in his Self.

Even though we are currently nowhere close to the four states mentioned above, we should at least be able to remain calm, free from vexation. In order to reach such a state, we should learn to reduce the speed of our fast paced lives and practise meditation. This will slow down our rat race to some extent. It is only when his dependency on outer objects reduces, that one can experience internal peace.

You should try to escape from the marketplace of the world now and then. Try to visit a place where you can be alone surrounded by peaceful nature, avoiding mobile phones, internet and other gadgets. Then you will realize the sweetness of silence.

All rights reserved. This article has been translated by Padmaja A, which was originally posted in on September 12, 2009. The content or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher.

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