Article

Inner Silence

– Rajen Vakil

The theory we hear so often is that humans evolved from the apes. But we must still ask ourselves the question, Have we really evolved?

Though our physical forms have evolved, if we could look into our minds, we would that see we are still not very different from a monkey, chattering away twenty-four hours a day. We cannot really say we’ve evolved unless we learn to calm this inner chatter.

Sensual input enters our brain every hour of our lives. The mind substance reacts to this input and, with the help of memory, modifies this input into thought. The brain then converts this thought into language. This process goes on non-stop. Even in sleep, where the brain stops making language, we continue to see thought forms or pictures.

This inner chatter intensifies when our egos are hurt, or if we feel let down. It could take the form of someone criticizing, hurting, insulting, cheating, or calling us names. Even though we may maintain a pleasing and calm exterior as if nothing has happened, our inner monkey starts chattering at double the speed.

All schools of spirituality through the ages have taught their students to calm this inner talking. Various meditation techniques, japa techniques, mantras, and breathing techniques are taught to stop this continuous chatter. My guru, Mr. Tavaria, used to teach Three Step Rhythmic Breathing, which is a very simple way of calming this chatter.

Every morning, we wake up refreshed with a certain amount of psychic energy. This energy allows our psychological functions to work, powering the working of the mind to create every thought, emotion, and sensation. Inner talking is a continuous loss of this fine energy. It’s as though one of our pipes is leaking, and we are constantly losing water from our tank.

Most of the time, the subject or substance of this talking is very negative. But we realize this only if we become aware of the chatter and observe its rise and fall. Then we will see that our chatter increases when we have thoughts of jealousy or suspicion, resulting in negative thinking.

If someone gives us an appointment but then does not arrive in time, our inner monkey starts working overtime, putting that person down and putting ourselves always in right.

If we have blundered and must face the consequences, we keep saying to ourselves, ‘if only’. ‘If only I had not gone out with her.’ ‘If only I had not invested money in the wrong place.’ We have innumerable ‘if onlys’ in our lives. People spend their whole lives doing this.

Even with all this chatter, however, there is a space deep in our minds that is totally silent—it exists in all of us. If, in our lifetime, through practice, we can learn to go into that space of inner silence, then in those moments we are free of all the stress that life brings. All our tensions, conditioning, our sorrows, and worries just vanish in that inner space. But we can only enter that inner space once we have calmed the chatter of the mind.

As a student of spirituality becomes more adept on their path, they begin using the small situations of everyday life to calm the monkey. Small games sometimes bring huge results. Let us say, for example, if lunch is on the table, you can tell yourself that you will eat only after you have taken in ten breaths without a thought. In between, if you think a thought, then you must begin all over again.

The first thing I do on waking up in the morning is this – I take a hundred breaths with the rhythm and do not allow a single thought. This is my meditation on waking up. I visualize numbers without counting them. 

In the Mahabharata, Bhima kills the demon Bakasura (from baka, – to chatter). This demon exists in all of us. The story takes place at the time when the Pandavas were on their first sojourn in the forest, disguised as Brahmins. They had stopped in a town called Ekchakra Nagri. Outside the town lived a demon called Bakasura. The people in town had an understanding with the demon – offer him a human sacrifice once in a while so that he would leave them alone. The visiting Pandavas were staying in the house of a Brahmin, and this time, it was the Brahmin’s turn to give his twelve-year-old daughter to be sacrificed. The Brahmin’s wife was crying with such sorrow that Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas, consoled her and offered her own daughter instead of the Brahmin’s.

When the dreadful day arrived, the people of the town filled a whole cart with food for the demon. Bhima drove the cart to the demon’s den and sat outside. But instead of waiting for the demon, Bhima began eating up all the food in the cart. Bakasura came out of his den just as Bhima was finishing the last morsel. Bakasura was so angry that Bhima had eaten up his food, he attacked him immediately. In the fierce fight that ensued, Bhima first broke Bakasura’s backbone and then killed him.

Let us look at this symbolically. Bhima eating up the food meant for Bakasura signifies that before we are free from our inner demon of constant chatter, we must stop all its supplies of food. When someone criticizes or cheats us, the demon gets food and starts chattering in speed. There are countless such situations. Once we learn to remain calm in situations that hurt our Ego, we stop giving the inner chatter its food. We then begin observing its working, and over a period of time, as a result of our observation, the chatter dies down completely.

We can now enter that space of inner silence. In that space, we and God are one.