Silence, Solitude and Simplicity
In our pursuit of happiness, we sometimes experience the feeling of going backward. How many times have we found ourselves thinking, “I never thought life would be this busy!” We may even blame ourselves or be blamed by others for overdoing things. We fill up our social calendar to the brim and comfort ourselves by thinking we are leading a ‘balanced’ life. We all seem to be over-stretching ourselves. Is this frenzied lifestyle preventing us from achieving eternal bliss and fulfilment?
The Master always stresses on the importance of having a goal or objective in life. What is our goal? Financial well-being? Successful relationships? Looking good?
In order to tread the path of Sant Mat and not lose sight of our objective in life, there are three major requirements that the disciple must embrace. In addition to controlling his mind through meditation, the basic requirements are: silence, solitude and simplicity.
The value of silence cannot be over-stressed. Mystics and saints have laid great importance on silence. Almost every faith advocates silence, but modern man seems to be afraid of it. We are so accustomed to outer noise that we feel awkward if we are enveloped in silence. We see people walk in the streets with earphones in their ears, talking on their mobile phones or playing games while waiting for the bus or train. Even exercise classes today take place to the beat of the loudest music.
We are stimulated by the western philosophy of being on the move all the time – being busy bees! People often have the misconceived notion that being silent and still means ‘doing nothing’, and hurrying, bustling, frantic activity, and continuous talking is ‘getting things done’ and ‘living’. We are brain-washed into believing that we are not achieving anything unless we are constantly on the move.
Our day starts with the loud shrill of the alarm clock. Our eyes open, on goes the television or the CD player. We are bombarded with noise at the workplace. When we arrive home at the end of the day, we are welcomed by the sound of the television and chatting. There is no break in this cycle.
The voice of the Master can only be heard through silence. Sant Mat is a silent path. Mother Teresa puts it beautifully when she says:
God is the friend of silence. Trees, flowers, grass grow in silence. See the stars, moon and sun, how they move in silence.
The Quotable Spirit
The second requirement is solitude. Solitude does not mean being alone all the time. It is imperative that we stay connected with people and meet our needs.
All the misfortunes of men derive from one single thing, which is their inability to be at ease in a room [alone].
It is imperative to strike a balance between worldly life and spiritual life. It is not necessary to live like a recluse. Our family, jobs, relatives are all very important to us. But we should not be bogged down and over-powered by our attachments. Our goal is to rise above these and learn to appreciate and enjoy our own company. The ideal is to communicate with people, yet remain inwardly aloof and concentrated.
Solitude is very important for a spiritual seeker. It is, therefore, necessary to change our thinking patterns and alter our lifestyles, so that at least a part of the day is spent in tranquillity and calm.
Mystics have often advised that we should learn the art of doing nothing. It is only in the depths of silence and solitude that a disciple can meditate, fully concentrated at the eye centre.
The third requirement is simplicity. Mystics tell us that all we need are two square meals, a roof over our head and two or three sets of clothes. Instead we want seven-course meals, mansions to live in and designer clothes. In Legacy of Love, Maharaj Charan Singh writes:
Simplicity doesn’t mean to live in misery and poverty. You have what you need, and you don’t want to have what you don’t need.
The truly wise will always seek to simplify his life. The media-frenzied world drives us to think that we need the best of everything available. We need to filter our minds and carefully decide what we want in our life. Satisfaction of our basic needs is a necessity. Satisfaction of our wants and desires is a luxury.
The path of Sant Mat teaches us that whatever we are destined for, we will get only that – nothing more, nothing less. Once we believe this concept, it will make life much more simple. And if our lives are simple, we would have more time to devote to meditation in silence and solitude.