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Life’s Contours and Experiences – Reflections through Silence

Ranga Iyengar

Where was I?

10th July 2019 – Two years back, I was at Meherabad at a retreat with friends for observing Silence Day – this day commemorates the day Avatar Meher Baba began his silence which lasted for 44 years until his passing. Silence day is observed by his followers and lovers not just here but all over the world. This was my third time over the last 7 years since I was introduced to Baba. Each experience for me had been different and this time around I searched for new inspiration and new insights.

Time became space….

I decided that I would stay off grid, not read and not look at my watch for that day. What happened was interesting – when we maintain silence for a long time, time is converted to an element of space, which is how the mind starts interpreting time in a different dimension.

As I sat amidst nature and watched the path of a bird’s or a butterfly’s flight or the wind whistling through my ears as it shook trees around me, for me time froze but all around me there was movement in the three-dimensional space around me.

My insight was that to focus on each small activity around us, I had to let go and completely empty my mind to raise my awareness and shift time and other such attention seekers to another dimension. This allowed me to sit still and let all the movement happen around me.

The contours of life emerged….

As I had parked myself on a stone wall amid serene and pristine natural surroundings, I tried to meditate and intermittently open my eyes. What I saw was a 360-degree contour around me of the open sky, constant shifting cloud patterns and various contours and dimensions of the trees and land around me.

As I went into a reflective mode while not really trying to think, new pictures emerged for me – the constantly shifting cloud patterns, shades and hues spoke to me about the constant change in life and how we age – the strong and persistent breeze which moved the cloud seemingly ever so slowly seemed to rattle the trees and shrubs which depicted the intensity in how we perceive and engage with various aspects of life.

Paths and Choices….

On the meadow in front of me, I saw paths that were clear, ones which had rocks and ones that had weeds and foliage – this helped me reflect the various paths that I had chosen and the amount of work I had really put in. In another way, without being judgmental, it helped me revisit my feelings about certain milestones in life and drop what was not necessary to carry forth. It started to drizzle a bit and the wind picked up as well so the umbrella was not really an option – the rain brought in an additional dimension of a lot of information and messages ‘pushed’ to us as we continue to live life in a state of denial and not really try to understand the ‘feedback.

The rain was an ‘irritant’ or ‘ambient noise’ whatever way one chose to look at it. If we prefer to ‘wallow’ in our own knowledge prowess, we can get easily overwhelmed one day as like everything else in life, knowledge also gets washed away into obsolescence and what remains is the current (here and now). Life as a moving picture….

I looked around at my friends who had accompanied me and since they were also silent, they appeared distant and different to me – the day’s boundary agreement was that we would not speak to or disturb each other but just ‘be’. It brought back an old memory from my friend Keith who lives in the US and is an avid Yoga practitioner who always used to define relationships in a nice way ‘he used to say “the phone works both ways, my friend” and then this insight dawned on how I had made my choices about my family, friends and extended family and kept conversation boundaries or kept away from connecting with people.

Until now, the ‘terrain’ around me was moving and I was static. As I got up and started to walk around, I saw other people and animals and the terrain all move as though I was an element in a Kaleidoscope who became magnified for part of the journey and then the contours changed again. This helped me reflect on the energy we give to people, animals and our possessions and how we are engaged back or loved / hated back – felt a sense of déjà vu’ on having lived life by time boundaries and discipline all the time and probably lost the moment itself as I kept on reframing and tuning out myself.

Our inner conversations….

This moving picture changed colors, hues, terrains, people, trees, and other objects rapidly as we walked in absolute silence and I wondered if I had chosen to remain silent like Baba, would anyone have really cared? So much of energy would have been saved by not talking and yet taking actions with absolute clarity like Baba did. I started reflecting on the external (worldly) and internal (mental chatter) that constantly engages our mind and keeps pulling us into activity traps – I mused on an oft repeated saying “the mind is a monkey”. If we consider ourselves to be intelligent, we still become an ‘intelligent monkey’ (an oxymoron perhaps?).

By now we had arrived at the samadhi of Baba and as I looked around into the several souls around me who were all silent yet trying to communicate to each other intermittently through gestures, post its and mobile notes, I wondered why people could not disengage from the external world for a day and focus on one’s inner being and perhaps seek better spiritual insights. Then it dawned on that perhaps most of these ‘seekers’ around me probably were happy with their spiritual picnics and be socially relevant.

In summary…

Most of the times we are engaged externally in this very visual world, and it is only when we go completely silent that we connect to our inner self or ponder about our inner journeys or simply reflect. I am remined of yet another clairvoyant friend who always used to challenge me by asking – you seem to be so busy always and worried about everyone’s growth – do you have any ‘me time’ at all? When are you going to grow? In these moments of silence, I am reminded of Baba’s words from the Samadhi – Things that are real are given and received in Silence. God has been everlastingly working in Silence, unobserved, unheard, except by those who experience His Infinite Silence.”

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10 jul 2021

Ranga, This is so well articulated with your inner experience of silence. Takes me to silent Meherabad Hill with wide spread green beds, the trees, the birds & Meher Baba's presence. Thank you for putting it on paper.

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