Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Gulliverian Silence

by Swami Veda Bharati

[This passage has been taken from the book Silence: The Illuminated Mind pp 171 – 177 by Swami Veda, published 2018 by the Himalayan Yoga Publications Trust].

Book Cover: Silence the Illuminated MindGulliver arrives in a country where he sees innumerable little fires burning. People are standing by the fires, mourning. Others are mourning by the holes they are digging or those holes that they have filled.

‘Why such mourning? What are these fires? What are you digging for?’

‘We are cremating our old clothing.’

Such suffering in this world! Overcome by their grief he wanders off pondering why it never occurred to him that the end of a life of a shirt was so mournful. He moves on; people are rejoicing, having a festival, drums beating, dancing in front of each other’s houses.

‘Oh, I misjudged you, I thought it was only the land of mourning. What are you celebrating?’

‘Well, we are celebrating the birth of a new shirt, new cap. This person just found himself a pair of gloves. We mourn the old clothing. We celebrate the new clothing.’

Thinking this land to be too insane, too unworthy of further attention Gulliver sails off in his little boat.

Gulliver lands on another inland. The island is beautiful and clean. Not a speck of dust. Not a shred of a Styrofoam cup is to be found anywhere. It's perfectly orderly. He has finally arrived at a place he could probably settle down. People are polite, courteous, loving. They invite him into their home.

He goes into the first home, it is filled with shreds of Styrofoam cups, shards of broken bottles, old rotten clothing. These are not houses; they are garbage bins. He runs out saying: ‘I thought I had arrived finally at a place of purity and cleanliness.’

‘Oh, no, we are very pure, very clean. Do you not see? By the King’s decree we permit no garbage out on the street. So we just keep it inside our homes. People are very conscientious about it. If they see a single dry leaf flying about anywhere they pick it up and keep it inside the home.’

He runs out of the house because he can't bear the stench any more. He runs to his boat and moves on.

Gulliver goes to another island and as is his habit he carries some food with himself. He is very hungry. He lands at the island and begins to have a quiet picnic on his own. People gather around and ask what was he eating because he might be breaking some dietary law which was very carefully checked.

‘Well, it's a candy bar. Do you not have candy bars?’

‘Well we don't have that. What do they taste like?’

He says: ‘Well, it is sweet.’

‘Oh, horror of horrors! We permit nothing sweet on this island. It's against all our traditions. You have broken the most sacred laws of our land for which you must suffer.’

‘But, this is not the law of my land and I was not aware of this.’

‘Well, why do you eat sweet? Why do you eat this?’

Gulliver asked: ‘Have you never tasted anything sweet?’

‘No, no, no, it's against our laws. But just describe it to us please.’

‘Well, it's opposite of bitter.’

‘Oh, it must be something similar to sour then.’

‘No, no, no, it's not similar to sour, it's opposite to bitter.’

‘Oh, is it something like salty?’

‘No, no, no, it's nothing like salty; it's just the opposite. You have to taste it to know.’

‘Oh, no, no, no, horror, we could not taste it. It's not permitted. Describe it to us please.’

And so we wander about in our little “Gulliverias.” We mourn the death of our old body clothing. We celebrate with gusto the arrival of new clothing for other souls. We keep our surroundings clean but fill the homes of our minds with all that is strewn about, all that is rejected. We pour it in. We gather it in. And when someone offers you a taste of sweetness, you just want the description of it without wanting to taste it.

I speak to you out of love because I want you to have a pleasant life and it is so simple. It is so easy to have a pleasant life. I received a letter from a very dear student who said: ‘your letters connect me to the lineage.’ I wrote back to him: ‘your letters make me feel like a mother who sees her child's face washed clean.’

When you sit for your meditation it is like washing your face clean. And for us mothers, won't you give us the pleasure of seeing your faces clean? Have a pleasant life. It is possible. It is possible for this Gulliver to land in a country where homes have a room for washing the mind; where homes have a room for nourishing the mind; where homes have room for resting the mind. It neither takes much space nor much time. Are you feeling tossed in a storm? There is a haven not far just across the bay. When you start towards this harbour and your boat is still being tossed, you become discouraged. But the boat is still being tossed because you haven't arrived at the harbour yet. Arrive at this harbour – the harbour of silence; a harbour of uninterrupted pleasure. The pleasure of the pleasant mindedness which requires no shards, no shreds gathered from outside.

What would it be like if Gulliver went to a country where TV sets were only for advertising? Have we not placed ourselves in such a country, all over the world? Are we not gathering the entire world’s garbage into our selves and not cleaning it out? Won't you take time out for doing this? I consider this my duty, my pleasure, my privilege always to be a nagging mother, to say, everytime I speak to you: ‘sit with me, sit with each other.’

You are siblings in the lineage. Love your siblings. Sit together, enjoy, do not suffer, do not make your meditations a pain, an effort and endeavour, a struggle. Make it not a deprivation; make it a feast. It is a feast of the subtlest flavours possible that will touch your tongue where no flavour has touched before. It is a feast of the colourful art of hues and shades that your eyes have not seen before but then what happens is that you begin to expect that the analogies would become the analogue. Then you actually begin to expect flavours arising in the mouth and forms appearing before the eyes. That is interruption of silence. That is interruption of the pleasant mindedness.

You have a life full of excitations; being tossed on the storm, being torn by the winds. To make yourself whole again, so that your mind is not divided into these shreds and shards all the time you have to forget those things that you consider exciting that at the same time torture you so, making you suffer. For a few moments in the day won't you get away from your suffering? Won't you shut the doors of your self-torture chambers and sit with your back to them?

People don't want to come to silence retreats. I’m inviting you to a feast and you are not coming. How disappointing it is for me who invites you. For the lineage has prepared these flavourful feasts for you and you won't partake of them!

Learn to enter this chamber inside of you where quietness prevails. Where there is absolute and total rest. There is no reason for you to be tossed around from island to island like Gulliver trying to find a perfect place because that perfectly pleasant place is within you. Taste this sweet; don't just ask for its description. You want teachers who describe this sweetness but would you understand what that sweetness is? You would expect something similar to the salty, something similar to the sour. That is what happens with much of the teaching when it is imparted to those who would not experience it for themselves.

Learn to celebrate all your transitions, your transition from breath to breath, transition from thought to thought. If you only identify with your body, which is a torn shirt one day and born like the shirt another day, there is no end to your mourning. There is a place that is beyond mourning that is beyond temporary celebrations, which is a place of equanimity.

So I ask you now to resolve in your mind that each day you will enter this chamber of quietness – this place to wash the mind clean. Clean up the interior and do not just keep taking in the garbage from outside accumulating it as though it were a wealth of riches, cherishing it, and holding on to it. The more one has of it the more is one considered a wise man. Not that. Not that. [Neti, neti.] We are neither this nor that but that which is beyond these distinctions.

So won't you make plans to sit in silence together? Sitting together can be of three kinds:
At the same place
At the same time
At the same place and same time.

If you do not come together but you decide that five of you, ten of you, three of you, will meditate at the same time, even in your own home at your own meditation seat, you would find that a subtle force will link you and when you meet there really is very little to say to each other because it is all said in silence. You will understand the language of silence after some time.

Every now and then plan on a silence retreat. Half a day of being together, or one day of being together in a place of silence where you enjoy this subtle feast. Give me the pleasure. Let me share in it and let me pray for you.

Wherever you are sit erect. Sit erect and forget all the islands of which you have made yourself simultaneous citizens, which claims you and turns you into shards and shreds, and let your mind become one single whole. Let your mind become filled with an unnamed pleasantness of quietude. Enter this. Before you come out of this chamber resolve when each day will you enter this chamber that is away from the tortures that you suffer, which is the haven away from the storms in which you are tossed, which is a shelter, refuge, serving you, taking you away from the winds that tear your limbs. Celebrate the transitions of your breath and let those gentle breezes lead you into a five-minute silence – absolute silence of the mind. Enjoy the pleasure.

Editor’s Note:

For all Swami Veda’s published works, please visit www.yogapublications.org or email us at [email protected].

The book SILENCE – The Illuminated Mind is also available on Amazon India.



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