Hinduism Today Magazine Issues and Articles
Seven Steps Toward Golden Silence
Category : January 2000

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Seven Steps Toward Golden Silence

How to quell the mind's clack and clatter and enjoy the natural divine peace of your soul

Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami



Silence is very important. It is food for the soul. If we can make our mind absolutely silent, our body absolutely silent and our emotions absolutely silent, just for a few minutes, we can quiet down. We then begin to draw divine energies from the central core of the universe itself. The noise of the mind, the noise of the emotions and the noise of the physical body often block these divine energies. Or, as they are "oozing out" from the central core of the universe, they get quickly used up in all the commotion we cause in ourselves and in others. Therefore, we have the practice of mauna, silence--just sitting and being quiet.

Many people are afraid of silence. They have to be doing something all the time. Many people also are afraid of being alone. But actually no one ever is alone. He's always with his great divine Self. Every person has a great divine Self within him--an absolutely perfect, shining, sublime being of light. The voice of this being is a loud silence. The voice of your soul is a loud silence. Many people have said that the voice of God is a deep, profound silence. So, listen for God inside of you by quieting your mind. Do it through deep breathing. Breathe regularly, in and out--nine counts in, hold two or three counts, nine counts out, hold two or three counts. Keep doing that and let the thoughts pass by. Don't pay any attention to them.

Listen to the silence within you with your inner ear, and the silence will become louder and louder. Oh, one might ask, how can silence become loud? Well, it will seem that it is loud to you, and you will know that you have actually attained a profound silence only when you come out of it and start hearing the noises of the room around you, the birds in the trees, people talking and chattering. Then you will know you have been experiencing the deep, profound silence, that loud silence, that roaring silence, the voice of your own soul.

Don't be afraid of silence and don't be afraid of being alone. You were born alone. You didn't know what was going to happen until you very trustingly entered this world. And when you depart from the physical plane, you don't know what's going to happen really, though you can read books about it. But you go trustingly, and there is always someone there to receive you. When you are born, someone is receiving you, and when you depart from this world someone will receive you on the other side of consciousness.

Some silence is golden, others are silver and a lot prove out just to be heavy metal--copper, iron, zinc or tin. A few kinds of silence are brazen brass. Silence can be learned. Let's begin at the bottom, by silencing the brass. To do this there is a sadhana, a spiritual discipline, the first of the Seven Sadhanas of Silence.

The brass sadhana is to conquer jealousy, which bemoans, "She has more than I do. He gets everything he asks for, while I get nothing or very little. It's unfair." This noise goes on daily in the mind of those in the jealousy chakra (sutala), located in the knees, which has to stop spinning in the astral areas of the inner mind to make way for peace of mind. How do we do this? It is easy. Just begin to stop talking to yourself about what is unfair. Let all mental arguments go. Drop the subject. Be silent about the issue. Such a silence provides a place for harmony of minds, while too much noisy complaining about "me and mine" gives no room for others.

The silence of tin is an even worse din. Have you ever heard a child beat on a tin can? That's how the force of anger sounds, "clank, clank, clank"--not musical, not melodious, not even nice. The noise of anger, which vibrates in the vitala chakra, located in the thighs, has to be quieted to enjoy even the smallest sliver of silver peace. How do we do this? Well, it is expensive. A monetary sum is paid for each outburst, or even unexpressed wave, of anger. A jar labeled "anger penance" is established in the shrine room, into which a monetary sum is placed each time anger is experienced--the greater the expression, the larger the sum. The money collected is sent to the charity of one's choice on the first day of each month.

The silence of zinc comes next. It is quieting the force of fear. Yes, fear can produce a very noisy mind. But it is not beyond being controlled and courted into "obeyance." Fear creates. Often we create what we fear and make it happen by fearing that it might. We give it that energy, that possibility in our life. Fear vibrates in the atala chakra, located in the hips. To bring fear under control is a powerful accomplishment. How do we do this? One way is through the power of affirmation, reprogramming the subconscious mind. An affirmation is a series of positive words in line with a visual concept repeated time and time again. It can be repeated mentally or, preferably, verbally. Here is an effective affirmation for overcoming fear. "I am the complete master of all my forces. My spiritual energies govern and control the force fields wherever I am for the highest good. Through understanding, being a pure soul, full of spirited life, I am filled and thrilled with unlimited power now and forever." While repeating this affirmation, visualize a bright, white, protective shell around your outer aura with a round opening at the top. As you persist, the trembling voice of fear will desist.

Now, the silence of iron. Many of us have strong memories, which become stronger as years go by. As strong as iron, they are there, rusting away in the muladhara chakra at the base of the spine. How do we silence memory? Write down or type in your computer and print out all that you want to forget. Then burn up the paper. Writing down problems and burning them in any ordinary fire brings them from the subconscious into the external mind, releasing the suppressed emotion as the fire consumes the paper. The memory still exists, but it has lost its emotional power.

With the past thus stilled, we come to the silence of copper. We are climbing up the ladder of the chakras when we try to silence our reason, which in most of us is the noise of asking rhetorical and intellectual questions over and over again, questions that have no answers: "Why did he do that? Does he not know better?" And on and on and on. It is important for seekers to silence the tendency to rationalize, to explain away, to excuse and defend the ego. To silence this svadhishthana chakra, located at the kidney level, some basic yoga must be done to empower the higher self. Controlled breathing, pranayama, helps harness and slow down the prana, energy, that spins this chakra, as does hatha yoga. Sit quietly with the spine in a straight line, breathe naturally, as a baby breathes, by using the diaphragmatic muscles below the solar plexus. Inhale. The diaphragm pushes the stomach wall out as the lower lungs inflate. Exhale. Relaxing the diaphragm, the air is expelled. Then pull the diaphragm in to push out the last bit of air. Nine counts in, hold one, nine counts out--this is a basic sadhana for the silence of copper.

With the intellect quieted a bit, we can seek the silence of silver, stilling the willpower, located at the solar-plexus manipura chakra. It spins constantly, being the nerve center that interconnects all the forces of the physical and astral bodies. How to quiet willpower? Competitiveness and mental domination must stop, for these direct the energies down to the lower chakras. The force of willfulness in its negative expression makes noises about self-preservation--"Take care of me first and forget the others. Accept my opinions and disregard the others." This can be counteracted by the practice of speaking only that which is true, kind, helpful and necessary. The silver sadhana is to use willpower positively to control the tongue, to be a helpmate to silence by speaking little, and never boasting of ambitions or attainments.

With the willpower subdued, the silence of gold comes into view; without the L, it is God. So get the L out of it. Here silence is truly the voice of God. To quiet the anahata chakra, the heart center of understanding, soul knowing, vision and peaceful thoughts, is to not be a metaphysical know-it-all. It means not being a prophet or big ego in speaking about how others should live, but rather silently living the example of how one should be.

Then we come to the platinum vishuddha chakra, in the throat. Here resides the force of divine love. Love is understanding, forgiveness, compassion and benevolent, selfless giving. It is the chakra that yogis enter to be truly silent. Here they cannot speak. Here they feel good and fulfilled.

When to be silent then? If you don't know such details of your horoscope, an easy and pragmatic alternative is to be silent on the same day of the week you were born. Astrologers advise fasting and nonspeaking on that karmically critical day. In the ensuing silence you may discover what mystics have seen: "Love in the will the spirit is free. Oh, what a day when all see that the hope of the world is love." Enough said.