10th July 2022. Silence day @Meherabad – the tomb shrine of Avatar Meher Baba.
Do not search for God outside of you. God can only be found within you, for His only abode is the heart. – Avatar Meher Baba
I came to Meherabad after a gap of 3 years to be part of the 97th Anniversary of Silence Day which symbolizes the day from when Avatar Meher Baba (Compassionate Father) became silent for 44 years until he dropped his body on 31 January 1969. This day is very special to me as staying in silence on this day has given me several useful insights.
Each time I come here; I usually have a quest. This time I was reminded of this on revisiting one of Meher Baba’s books– The Everything and the Nothing. Silence day is usually a day when you can consider doing ‘Everything’ or ‘Nothing’ since the focus is more internal than external. I am sure you can understand the analogy here….switching off from the ‘Everything’ that we do in our normal busy lives to doing ‘Nothing’ even if just for a day.
Silence day started for me at 3 am with serene meditation, taking long walks during the day with a group of friends, visiting the Avatar’s tomb shrine to pay respects, more blissful meditation and contemplation at the ‘Mandali hall’ (where Baba used to meet with his lovers and disciples for ‘Sahavas’ (spiritual gatherings) and near the ‘Rahuri Cabin’ (a small cabin which was used by him for his seclusion work and interviews); and of course sharing the table at the Meher Pilgrim Retreat (MPR) with wholesome food, dear friends and a lot of ‘non verbal communication’. I also spent some time admiring the beautiful large murals at the MPR. At the end of the day, remembering my Master, I was compelled to share my insights in this note.
#1 – Silence and our emotions
Silence makes us contemplative and tends to bubble forth our emotions. It is said that men more than women, store up a lot of their emotions as they do not want to be vulnerable and ‘air’ out their emotions to resolve them with their family and friends.
In my personal experience, it is in the moments of silence when we connect with our higher selves or with Him, is hidden the great opportunity to shed emotional baggage by confiding and sharing our pains with our Master, who has infinite patience and the power to relieve us of those burdens.
We can also let go of pent-up feelings and trust our Master to help ‘clear the space’ and perhaps lighten our Karmic load if we are sincere and truthful in our approach whereby, we earn His Grace.
Our ‘emotional patterns’ are stored as a chain of incident memories (both good and bad ones) which we cling on to. When the same negative patterns repeat due to our repeating the same behaviours or responses, we keep adding to our mental baggage and eventually this has an impact on our health, or manifests as fears and worries. Real spiritual growth, as Baba says is possible only when we transcend our fears, worries and desires.
Moments of silence are a great space to let go of this emotional baggage and become ‘lighter’ on our life and spiritual journey. So, you have a choice – ‘carry everything’ with a heavy heart or ‘let go’ and lighten your heart – in short ‘carry nothing’ but His Grace and Love.
From a spiritual perspective, these memories perhaps get imprinted as the Karmic patterns that we carry during our present and into future lives until we get realized.
#2 – Silence and our desires
We chase needs, wants and more…. As I was observing people around me during the day, I marveled at people who had such simple needs and at those who had much more ‘material paraphernalia’. This led me to a deeper contemplation on how to understand and balance our desires through silence.
We are endlessly in pursuit of material things, relationships, activities, bucket lists, meeting demands of others, chasing our own to do lists etc. We seem to want ‘Everything’ and are unable to stop chasing endless cycles of desires and often overwhelm ourselves leading to anxieties.
Once in a while, life does put brakes on our desires in its own way by either a life event, change of circumstances, change in our relationships, resources, and status etc. This causes us to ponder and think of how to react or respond (our choice). If we step back and reflect or even step out and look at the event or conversation that has caused us pain in a detached way, we get better insights and perhaps some ways of resolving the core issue.
Silent contemplation on our life patterns is a great way to balance our desires rather than struggle or wish them away or, simply drop them like a loser. Personally, I have found silent contemplation very useful in ‘repurposing’ our desires and thereby re-designing our life journey to remain happy. A word of caution though – process one at a time, else your mind could flood and crowd you with several requests at the same time. A good practice is to write down the few that one would like to work on.
So the question to ask here is, are desires ‘Everything’ in life? or can we truly be desireless and still lead a meaningful life. The subtle answer here is perhaps to practice detachment in whatever we do and sometimes be a witness observer - this is what I have learnt from my Master and spiritual pursuits. I have found Silence to be great space to ponder, objectively examine and reconsider our perspectives and actions and leave the rest to our Master.
#3 – Silence and Relationships
People around us are a big part of our life journey and close / intimate relationships matter the most. The binding factor for close relationships is strong emotional bonding and how we give importance to people over our material possessions. Relationships also mature when we give space to people and do not try to ‘posses’ them as this enhances and deepens the trust. I was observing families and groups of people today and looking at how they were forced to be silent, yet communicate using a lot of non-verbal communication! What dawned upon me was how we take our close relationships for granted in our super busy lives and do not even appreciate what the moments we spend with others (just be in the moment), or what others do for us – be it family, friends or work colleagues. Instead of allowing for a natural flow of co-existence, we demand time and resources from our loved ones.
The perspective here is to be available to others in their space and offer to help when asked, even as we maintain a strong emotional connect with those we care for.
I found that tucking away some Silence space for reviewing, contemplating, or resolving relationship issues can perhaps help. As an example, if a person is angry it leads to situations that are driven by Ego and not Love, which is the natural expression of human beings – this is what God or our Masters try to reinforce – to shed Ego and express love instead.
If we can transcend the Ego space and move to a space of Love, it would ease the burden and pain that is caused by mistrust, blind spots in our judgment and lack of respect for each other. Once again, I was reminded of Everything and Nothing – while it may not be possible to have ‘Everything’ or a perfect relationship, we can at least attempt to move away from ‘Nothing’ in the relationship (empty relationships) which are the order of the day. The key here is accepting one another as a package and not attempting to change the other person for God has truly made each one of unique!
#4 – Purposeful or Purposeless?
Should every day and every moment be purposeful or purposeless? Our logical mind says there must be goals, and everything is a means to and end. Only when we sit
back silently, contemplate, and simply do nothing, clarity emerges… else we carry on the ‘treadmill of life’ in a muddled and confused set of repetitive patterns.
Silence is a great space to be Purposeless – again moving from a space of Everything to Nothing is often refreshing as it helps us re-boot and refresh. It also helps us stop
and perhaps drop a few things once we have better clarity and this happens only when we create a space of Silence for ourselves.
I was reminded of few quotes of Meher Baba from the book which a dear friend pointed me to – “Everything exists only because it has a purpose. The moment that purpose has been accomplished, everything disappears, and Existence is manifested as self-existing Self.”
“Purpose presumes a direction and since Existence, being everything and everywhere, cannot have any direction, directions must always be in nothing and lead nowhere.”
“Hence to have a purpose is to create a false goal. Love alone is devoid of all purpose and a spark of Divine Love sets fire to all purposes. The Goal of Life in Creation is to arrive at purposelessness, which is the state of Reality.”
#5 – Can the mind be quietened through Silence?
The moment we go into silence, the mind starts making more noise and questioning us even more. As is normal, it took me some time to ‘settle’ down and make most of the thoughts go away and just be in the present. Since the mind carries all of our life impressions and always has lots to process, it tries to dominate us.
So, even in moments of silence when we are trying to focus on ‘Nothing’, it wants to draw us into various activity traps of ‘Everything’. During periods of extended silence, it tries to become hyperactive instead of giving space to the moment.
I remembered from the book, another quote from Baba – “Mind wants to know that which is beyond mind. To know that which is beyond mind, mind must go—vanish, leaving no vestige of itself behind. The humour of it is, the mind, which is finite, wants to retain itself and yet know Truth, which is infinite. This is the position of those who seek Truth through intellect. Few grasp this fact, and so most grope and grapple in vain.”
In fact, I did see a lot of people around me occupying themselves with multiple books instead of reaching within oneself for a deeper personal experience. Quietening the mind, it dawned on me, was more about deeper contemplation and emptying the mind (moving towards nothing) rather than giving it more activity traps. To connect with or tap into Real or Universal Knowledge requires working on our higher intuitive selves than trying to find answers through our five senses.
Silence is truly a great teacher and there is always so much to learn. Of late on Sundays, when I am home, for at least a few hours, I am silent and do nothing. It is great self-therapy and if not anything else, helps one unwind and arise above the conundrum of noise that constantly surrounds us.