Question: Why is it so difficult to give up on yourself even though it is the cause of so much suffering?
Acharya Prashant: It might become easier had we not been using these attractive names. Knowledge is such an attractive name. Is it not? Now suffering is called knowledge and knowledge is pure – “How can I give it up? I am here to give up my impurity, not my purities.”
A while back, you would have been chit-chatting, somebody talked of gossiping in the group. Now is this any different? Tell me sincerely. Is this any different from that? Has not just the form changed? Will not that same form return very quickly? Then, you felt, you thought, that it was good to chat. Now you are ‘feeling’ that you must not talk and sit a little calmly. Has anything changed?
Superficially – yes.
Actually – no.
At that time too it was your feeling that was dominating, even this time it is your feeling that is dominating. ‘You’ are feeling like sitting quiet. You have not been stunned into silence. Nothing has taken possession of you. It’s your own decision to stay quiet for a while, and if the duration of the session exceeds a while, then you will take another decision which would be to not to stay quiet. If I keep talking like this and haranguing you; let’s say, for the next two hours, then your decision to stay quiet would be reversed. It would be reversed by ‘you’ because it was ‘your’ own decision. The Real has not come upon you; you have changed form. The Truth has not come; the false has changed forms.
That’s why your silence is such a studied silence, such a cultivated silence, such an enforced silence; a silence waiting to pass away, a silence waiting to transform into noise, a silence barely concealing the noise within.
Anybody here who is just silent, who is no more, who is gone, passed away? No. You are ‘maintaining’ silence, you ‘are’ not silence. Will you understand the difference between these two? We know how to ‘maintain’ silence, but we do not know what it means to ‘be’ silence. When you are maintaining silence, do you know what you are maintaining? You are maintaining yourself. I really want to listen to the silence in your speech, in your walk, in your footsteps; not this kind of a fake thing. This silence is just as enforced as Valeria’s (pointing towards a seeker) proximity to me. One has ‘asked’ her to come here. This is no closeness. This is no silence. You are still very very far away, maybe still in Slovenia; something important is happening there or is about to happen there.
L1: No, no, I am here!
L2: Here, listening to you.
AP: Who am I? (laughs)
L3: Sir, being silent, it always present the way inside us, that which we were not aware of. So, if we are aware of that silence then that silence can help one very much.
AP: The trouble is, Sir, that noise can never be aware of silence; only silence can be aware of silence; so, you can never be aware of silence. Have you ever seen noise in communion with silence? That which we call as ‘we’ is just noise. But we are insisting, that noise must know silence. This is the arrogance of noise. Noise will not say that I will dissolve, that I will seize, and then there is only just silence. Noise is saying – “I will exist, not only will I exist, I will become aware of silence. I will exist and I will conquer silence.” Do you see that there is a kind of aggression in all this? You will never be aware of silence. You can only ‘be’ silence. What you call as awareness, is it really anything except mental activity? Behind all the wonderful names, forms, spiritual jargon. What you call as awareness, is it really anything other than mental activity? If you want to check, apply just one test – Will this awareness exist without the brain? Will this awareness exist after death? Will this awareness exist when you are deeply asleep?
So, this that you are calling as awareness is just a movement of the brain. Maybe a little different kind of movement, but yet just a movement of the brain. If the brain is burnt away, this awareness too would be nowhere; so don’t try to be aware of silence, yield to it. You cannot yield to silence, Sir, if you cannot yield in the small daily matters of life. Do you want that big immense silence? But we can’t yield our chair! “I can’t yield my argument. But I want to yield the self.” You can’t even surrender an argument, how will you surrender the totality of the self? How? You can’t surrender one night’s sleep, how will you surrender the ego?
L3: Sir, just now when you said that your form has changed. When you are gossiping, you are like this, and when you are sitting in a session, you are like this. But there is one thing that is coming to the mind again and again that the possibility of being silent is more in this session rather than in gossiping.
AP: Not at all, because you cannot sit like this in front of me all your life. The silence that you are talking of is a cultivated silence because it requires a session like this. This session cannot become a substitute for life. Life will involve ‘this’ but much more of ‘that’ – a noisy bus stand, a train compartment, a classroom, a workplace – all that miscellaneous, yes? That is where, that is when silence must speak.
Can you be silent in the middle of a crowded bus? Even while negotiating with the bus conductor? That is silence. Can you be silent in the middle of an intense game of football or will you play football here? It’s no great fun sitting like this all our life, or is it? I would go tired after a while, you too would.
L4: When I am in the middle of the traffic and there is all this honking around; I get irritated, and I tend to do things which I know that I won’t naturally do. So I remain to myself or try not to talk to anyone or just shut my eyes down, but that again would be cultivated challenge that being in silence. So every time that we try to refrain from doing anything or thinking anything that would again be cultivated.
AP: The refraining itself is a denial of silence. You are instructing yourself to do something. That doing something might be – “Do not speak”. Do you see, ‘you’ are passing instructions to yourself. Sometimes you say – “Do go play”. Sometimes you say – “Do not speak”. But, who is passing the instruction? Is silence passing the instruction?
To be silent means to live under the auspicious of silence. To be silent means to let silence do the talking. You will not decide whether to open your mouth or whether to remain shut. Let silence decide whether you would speak or whether you would not.
Silence is only sometimes silent; mostly it is very talkative. What do you think this hill is? This hill is the talk of the silence. What do you think this grass, this earth, this sunlight, what do you think these are? This is silence talking. “Hello, hello this is silence talking. Do you know the language? Do you know the language?” Then you comprehend. You don’t respond. You never respond. You know only your language – Hindi, English, Slovenian – all your languages. You do not know the river – that is the language of silence.
God is a gossip monger, I tell you. See how much he gossips. The entire universe is his gossip. He did not remain content at nothingness.
When God gossips, it is called creativity.
Keeps on creating, keeps on creating; look at the butterfly. Look at the butterfly. What is the rascal doing? Have you ever seen that particular butterfly which has dotted wings? – Five colors, ten colors, entire rainbow. What do you think is this a silent God or a talkative God? Have you heard how the animals talk? Listen to all these birds twittering – this is silence talking.
This is not silence – if you are not careful then you will think that you are silent and I am talking. But if you really know then you’ll really see that I am silent and you are talking. Yours is silent noise and mine is a talkative silence.
L5: When I am aware of this silence, then I am no more silent. When I am aware of this bird singing then I am no more silent.
AP: Wonderful! Well said. So the moment I touch it using the instrument of thought, it is gone, it is gone, totally gone. The song of the bird is not the song that ‘I’ hear. We never know the bird because we try to listen to the bird using these ears. So you can never hear the song.
L6: But it makes one so cripple, you have a camera in your hand and it’s your choice obviously to choose whom you want to click. So hearing the silence talking, do the silence tell me when to hear and click?
Speaker : Silence will hear, you go away. You leave the camera and disappear.
L6: Best would be to stop taking pictures then.
AP: You just go away. Even stopping taking pictures is your presence. Don’t you see this? “Do take pictures. Do not take pictures.” – what is common in both these? Do. Who is the doer? You just disappear. Do you know why your pictures are so ugly when you click the camera? Because it is only your face in all your pictures. When you click, you only take selfies. That is why later on I have to delete all of them. Because it is your choice. So your self is reflecting in all your pictures. That is the real definition of a selfie. There are only two kinds of pictures: Selfies and Silence. (laughs)
L7: Sir even this disappearance cannot be my choice. It will happen. I cannot choose to be to have faith or to be faithless. I can just see that this was my act of faithlessness and just is.
AP: You know what, you must know this. Right now, I really didn’t comprehend her words. I did not even try. It’s to her voice that I nodded. That’s what usually happens with me. Hardly do I ever reply to what you are asking, I reply to your presence. How does it matter what you are saying? How does it matter which words you are choosing? I reply to your voice and when I say ‘voice’, just understand it as something a little behind words.
~ Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
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