Silence is an enabling condition
in which unprogrammed and unprogrammable events can take place.
That is the silence of contemplation;
that is the silence where people get in touch with themselves;
that is the silence of meditation and worship.
Quaker Ursula Franklin
In an age that looks upon noise as a necessity, silence has to be sought. In the cacophony of man-made sounds the subtle sound of spanda,that lies at its base, is excluded. Thus preventing an experience of the very force from which everything originates and into which it resolves. The emphasis on outward bound experiences takes us from our innermost being - from sound. It deadens our capacity to respect the subtle world of sound.
As the seeking ear recedes from the sounds of man and machine it begins to connect with the interstices of quietude that reside between these sounds. That quietude is the sound of silence, of the spanda,the vibration that underlies all creation. It is the unstruck, uncreated, the sound that IS. It is the womb from which all 'created' sounds arise. The sound of silence, even as it puts the seeker in touch with the original vibration, places her in the vortex of creativity and originality.
Mahatma Gandhi, a great practitioner of silence, wrote:
Silence is a great help to a seeker after truth like myself.
In the attitude of silence, the soul finds the path in a clearer light,
and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness-
the soul requires inward restfulness to attain to full heights.
Silence is the choice-less refuge of all beings. Willingly or unwillingly they close themselves into its soft warmth even as they unresistingly give in to the state of deep sleep, only to come out rejuvenated and recreated. The divisions and encroachments of external sound and noise all resolve into the unity of this underlying spanda.In this state, conflicts find resolution and problems their solution, as beings necessarily contact it, consciously or unconsciously.
Silence is not always heard by the external ear. Rather it is experienced in the innermost chambers of our bodies as the resonance of the vibrant universe.
Akasathat is at the base of all creation also resides in the inmost core of the microcosm, the body, as Cidakasa. Just as Akasa permeates the other four elements that make up the gross world, so too the cidakasa gives life to the other facets of living beings. The Taittiriya Upanisad explains the body as made up of five kosas or sheaths. The inmost, the anandamaya kosa, is the subtlest and is free of the mental, emotional and material aspects of the body, yet it pervades them all and enlivens them. It is the kosa in which spanda, sound as vibration, alone exists.
To discover the silent core made up of pure spanda that resides at the heart of the individual being would be to discover the source of the universe as well.
The energy channels that vitalize the body are called nadis-from the root nada,the ever-vibrating force. The Kathopanisadrefers to the spirit, or the knower, that resides in the body as vipaschit(1.2.18)
"...he whose consciousness vibrates in harmony with the Om...".
The body is made up of resonating chambers which
have to be discovered by practice in order to gain
an understanding of, and harness one's full potential.
That is why it is also referred to as Gatra Veena:
the instrument that protects and preserves the sound.
There are certain parts of the body which may be considered as the factors of the intuitive senses; and when by voice, by word, by breath, those parts are brought into action and are awakened, man begins to experience a fuller life. If that person is an artist, a musician, a writer, or a scientific genius, whatever he is, by cultivating all the natural faculties which are within him he can express his art or his science more fully.
Sufis, in order to awaken in man that part of his emotional nature which is generally asleep, have a rhythmic practice which sets the whole mechanism of body and mind in rhythm.
Hazrat Inayat Khan
Mantra, that which protects and sustains the mind, is a unique configuration of sounds. It stands as a conduit between the individual and the cosmic, connecting the small to the large, breaking open the shell and isolation of the individual to connect to the freedom of the universal.
Every mantra invokes a particular deity. A deity is not a concrete, physical form. Rather, it is the potential energy that underlies a given phenomenon, be it rain, thunder, lightening or any other.
Swami Sivananda wrote:
A mantra is divinity. It is the divine power or shakti manifesting in a sound body... The mantra is a mass of radiant tejas (energy). Mantra awakens supernatural powers. It accelerates and generates creative force. The repetition of mantra produces harmony. Just as a flame is strengthened by wind, so also the aspirant's individual shakti is strengthened by mantra-shakti.
A mantra holds within it dormant energy. Constant and prolonged repetition opens it up to reveal the hidden potency. The tectonic structure, the cadences, the intonation, the combination of particular aksaras -all combine to harness and manifest the energy that a particular mantra invokes. Even if a word in a mantra has meaning, it still remains a valid unit of sound, representing the energies of creation. While meaning engages the mind, the sound vibrations are connected to vitality, the basis on which the mind functions.
The sounds of the mantra are chosen to express the unity of the universe. Hazrat Inayat Khan says:
The more a Sufi listens to the Saut-e Sarmad, the sound of the abstract, the more his consciousness becomes free from all the limitations of life. The soul floats above the physical and mental plane without any special effort on man's part, which shows its calm and peaceful state...
Om can be seen as a visual form, experienced as a sound,
or understood as an idea. Made up of three vowel sounds -
A, U, M - Om becomes a mono-syllabic unity when
pronounced. It is considered by the Vedas to be the
immutable sound that represents the energy of the abstract
Enter the space of sacred sounds with a concentrated mind.
Sit still in a comfortable position.
Let the sounds float around and into the body, effortlessly.
Join in and chant the sound Om or Hum, whichever is more pleasing.
Listen to the resonance of the sound.
Close the ears with the index fingers, chant hum and experience the resonance within.
In moments of silence stretchthe ears to hearthe farthest star.
Experience the stillness of sound.
While leaving the space retain the inner resonance to experience the world anew.