A few months back one of my friends asked me if I can remain silent for just half an hour. I am too very talkative and all my friends know that I love talking a lot rather than listening. It was just a challenge thrown at me and it was not the friend who wanted me to remain silent alone who was interested but the whole bunch of friends around wanted to see if I can shut my mouth for at least half an hour.
The stop clock was on and my time to sew my lips started. Knowing my nature a few had already decided that I cannot stop myself from talking for more than 5 min, but it was a successful 30 minutes of silence amidst some alluring topics discussed. When my friend who had challenged flagged the 30 min deadline, I was wondering if I had been silent for half an hour.
In fact I was not, there was a monologue running in my mind. One thought was firm about remaining non-verbal while the other was sceptical and was not so optimistic like the other. What if I could not remain silent was the big thought in the mind. There was lot of noise due to that. Silence that Zen masters talk about is not just keeping the mouth shut alone; it is about silencing the mind. Silence is not scribbling on a chalk board or using hand signs instead of talking to communicate. It is the total and lack of creating mind pollution.
At a monastery four Monks were asked by their Master to remain in the seat of silence for a week. On the first nightfall the oil lamp which was burning in the corner started to flicker and after a few minutes it went off.
The first Monk said, “Oh, no! The light in the room is out.”
The second Monk said, “We are not supposed to talk you idiot?”
The third Monk said, “You two broke the silence fools?”
The fourth Monk smiled to himself and thought, “Ha! I'm the only one who remained silent as ordered by the master.”
While the first three of them thought the fourth had abided to the conditions the Master had put, but the fourth was also not silent.
Is it really possible to silence the mind???
No, mind is never silent. We can reduce the number of thoughts and with continuous practice we can limit the flip flop of thoughts and concentrate on a single thought. Sage Patanjali terms it as “Dharana.” Further Sage Patanjali explains that while Asana helps an individual to have control on his body, Pranayama on his breath and Pratyahara on his senses, Dharana teaches him to control his mind. With the Body, Breath, Senses and Mind in control Dhyana becomes simpler.
Now what is Dhyana, is it just sitting in seat of silence???
Dhyana is continuous flow of consciousness toward an object of concentration. Let’s not confuse Dharana with Dhyana. In concentration, there is a subject and an object. I, the subject, can concentrate on a burning lamp or an image of God, or chant the bija mantra which are objects of concentration to me. In Dhyana, the object disappears and so also the subject that is me. There is oneness as all becomes one. Rather than focusing on a mantra, I and the mantra become one and hence all borders, boundaries, and separation between me and the universe begin to disappear. I begin to realize the inherent oneness of all beings and all of creation. When even that realization goes one tread to Samadhi.
Each time my mind runs here and there I need to bring it back it is called Dharana. Concentration is trying to fix the mind on one thing. Dhyana is when I have tried and have been successful. And the threshold to Dharana is Inner Silence……….Oh Mind, Silence Plzzzzzz…….!!!!