Silence of the Mind
It is through silence of the mind that one gains insight
Into the true nature of all things
A silent mind is the first requirement on the path of Integral Yoga.
Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga is not only about ascension, it is also about Descend of the Grace from above, but it faces a resistance from a rational and ever-chattering mind.
One commences with a method, but the work is taken up by a Grace from above, from That to which one aspires or an interruption of the infinitude of the Spirit. It was in this last way that I myself came by my mind’s absolute silence, unimaginable to me before I had its actual experience.
Sri Aurobindo, On Himself
The power of not to think is far greater than the power to think. A mind who does not learn how to turn silent wanders aimlessly, going in circles in its own whirlpool of endless, inexhaustible, random and useless thoughts. Such mind who squabbles and babbles nonchalantly is an egocentric mind because it constantly hovers around his own viewpoint of things and events, preferences, jealousies, opinions, anger, hatred, reactions and his own confusions. And it is also a selfish and a petty mind that has no respect for new paradigms, new thoughts, new ideas and new practices, and opinion from other minds. Such a mind is locked up in its own dungeon where it closes all windows to fresh air and sunlight, and has no respite from its own staleness.
A mind which is not silent is deprived of the yogic beauty of Silence. It is only when the mind turns silent that the sadhak begins to discover for himself the power of not thinking. Therefore it is imperative for the mind to break free from the shackles of uncontrollable and random thoughts and turn silent. The problem is that the more one tries to make the mind silent, the more active it becomes. The moment one sits to meditate and quieten the mind, because of a lack of integration between self-awareness and the mind there is a torrent of thoughts, the churning motion of the whirlpool becomes stronger, and the mind begins to wander aimlessly.
How to silence the mind, a sadhak may wonder. The three keys of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga – Aspiration, Surrender and Rejection are the three golden steps towards silencing the mind.
Aspiration is the force which puts a sadhak on to the path of spiritual realization and makes the progress easier if one continues to aspire for Divine and for Divine guidance. It is Aspiration which enables the Divine Grace to pull upward the Consciousness of the Sadhak and is therefore the primary condition and step towards achieving a Silent Mind.
Aspiration has to be supported by a total and abject surrender to the Divine Will. Few realize that when the aspiration has grown and become a habit, then a divine force begins to descend in the mind which is sometimes felt like a heaviness in the head. In fact this heaviness is caused by our own resistance to the descending force due to a natural resistance which we carry from our animalistic past, and the only way to clear the path of its descent is to surrender to the Divine Will.
The third key is Rejection – rejection of personal preferences, emotional likes and dislikes, jealousy, hatred, disappointments, desires, anger and conflict etc. Being judgemental sets up mental ripples in our minds which turn into all-consuming tornadoes. The method, as Mother has suggested, is to step back and stop being judgemental, and as Sri Krishna says, to become a witness to the Leela in the world. With practice, the mind starts to accept reality as it comes. Then the actions of the Sadhak are spontaneous because now they are not born out of logical mind but by the intuitive mind. Work begins to happen from the silent mind and become offerings to the Divine, and the result of the Work turn into the Prasad of the Divine.
The very transcendence of duality of emotional likes and dislikes releases the mind from the shackles of negative emotions and the sadhak is able to live a life which is true, without a mask or a makeup, and where all the love and compassion which had been held back due to whatever differences swells up and an outpour of love for one and all is experienced. Then we be begin to accept people not as what they appear to us, but as what they are.
Silencing of the mind can be dynamically practiced while walking, eating, waiting for a bus, reading a book, listening to a discourse. A good practice is to concentrate on whatever is being done at moment and make an effort to stop the mind from drifting. Once the sadhak begins to experience the silence of the mind, he begins to experience a different kind of reality, like a new born child coming into the world, and all experiences are seen in a new light. Gradually the mind begins to turn silent, innocent and more aware of its surroundings. It also widens the horizons of human consciousness. It begins to create a space where the energy of silence begins to manifest itself and reveal great spiritual truths through intuitive consciousness and not through logical interferences, turning more aware of itself, more conscious of its surroundings, better aligned with higher mind and universal intelligence, and is silent even when it thinks. In that state every thought which descends from Universal Silence is a revelation, an illumination which carries the energy and bliss of Anand.