Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cover to cover

I was thrilled to embark on this new journey. After reading the last page of this book (Celebrating Silence), my respect for Sri Sri as well as the book increased multifold. I said to myself, this is a book that has to be read from start to finish carefully. And there began the journey. I read through these astounding pages with keen interest and focus, and with a sense of sacredness.
After years had I come across a book that gave me a thrill. Two other books that had held my interest before were The Bhagavad Gita and Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Celebrating Silence was divided into three chapters:
- The You that you want to Change
- The Path to the goal that is you
- You, God and Beyond

The first chapter deals with things that we encounter everyday like anger, doubt, fear, negativity, respect. I loved what the first page said:

Being in a crowd when you are alone is ignorance. A feeling of oneness in a crowd is a sign of wisdom. Being alone in a crowd is Enlightenment.

Knowledge of life brings confidence and knowledge of death makes you fearless and centred.

Some know to celebrate when they are in a crowd. Some can only rejoice alone in silence. I tell you to do both. Celebrate while you are alone and celebrate when you are with people.

Celebrate silence and celebrate noise.
Celebrate life and celebrate death.

I had read books on philosophy earlier in my life, but nothing had ever struck such a deep chord in me like this one. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has a style of delivering such profound wisdom in such simple words, this was the most appealing part – even a lay man like me could understand what was being said. This in my opinion is real wisdom – to be able to speak the deepest knowledge in a language that even a simple person can understand.

Sometimes I would read the same page over and over again because of the mind-blowing depth it carried. It became an addiction. Whatever time I could find, I would read further. A couple of pages in the autorickshaw on the way to work. At work, I would eat lunch quickly and come back and read a few more pages. Though I was enjoying it, I didn’t want anyone to know what I was doing, so I would hide the book in my lap under the desk :) as I read through. And although I had developed a deep respect for Sri Sri and for the wisdom he imparted, somehow this Guru concept had not yet sunk into my head. So I enjoyed all this by myself, not letting anyone know the secret to my new found joy.

A new phase in life had begun for me. An old spark to go beyond the ordinary in search of the truth was kindled. A few days later, I finished reading the entire book. Only to come back to the same pages again and again to find fresh meanings there. Even till today.

Friday, October 12, 2012

An introduction to Silence

This was home. The dusty roads, the smell of incense sticks that make their way out into the streets early in the morning, women cleaning the front porch, splashing water on the ground and raising the dust, yet cooling the ground at the same time. The rays of the morning sun streaking through the trees, the sound of chanting and the ring of bells from aartis (a simple ceremony of lights), this was all familiar.

I had missed Bangalore and was returning from Seattle after a gap of almost two years. The city was augmented with new flyovers, new malls, and a new attitude.
At home, my parents had become a little older. It was only two years since I had seen them, but now I had started to notice the difference. My room in my apartment also had one small change. There was a picture of a saint on my desk. I had never seen it before. It was the size of a quarter. Had it been any bigger than that, I would have probably put it away in a drawer. But somehow this was too small to bother me. So I let it be, though I was not one to follow a bearded guru.

I used to travel to Hyderabad for work and return to Bangalore on the weekends to spend time with family. As I was leaving on one of the trips my father handed me a book. 'Celebrating Silence' by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (the saint whose picture was on my desk). The title of the book intrigued me. Celebrating Silence. How could one celebrate silence? Wasn’t silence meant for mourning?

My dad said 'maybe' you can read it in your free time. Under normal circumstances, I would flatly refuse such a thing, but this time I did not. My relationship with my father had changed. He had been meditating for nearly 15 years, but I had seen a sudden shift in him a few months ago that I had not seen in years. Something had flipped. And there was this new intimacy and closeness in our relationship. All my life I had feared my strict father, but now somehow he was able to connect with me and I was able to share and express my love for him. I later found out from my mother that he had done this course called the 'Art of Living' and that a technique called Sudarshan Kriya had brought a lot of transformation in him. If there was anything in the world that could bring such a change, it had to be pretty good.

Although the title of the book seemed interesting, I was still reluctant to read anything from any 'Guru'. So I thought I'll read the last page of the book and if that evoked any interest then I'd read it from the start. Otherwise, that would be the end of it.
That last page - it turned out to be a new beginning in my life. It blew me away completely.

There Sri Sri says:
"Some questions can only be answered in silence. Silence is the goal of all answers. If an answer does not silence the mind, it is no answer.

Thoughts are not the goal in themselves. Their goal is silence. When you ask the question "Who am I?" you get no answer, there is only silence. That is the real answer. Your soul is solidified silence and this solidified silence is wisdom, knowledge.

The easy way to silence thoughts is to arouse feelings, for only through feelings will peace, joy and love dawn. They are all your very nature.

To the question "Who am I", the only relevant answer is silence. You need to discard all answers in words, including "I am nothing" or "I am the cosmic self" or "I am the self". Just remain with the question "Who am I?".  All other answers are just thoughts and thoughts can never be complete.

Only silence is complete."

After reading this page, I was in complete silence. A deep peace and contentment dawned in me. For the first time in my life.