Seeker: Swamiji, you mentioned that awareness is beyond thinking, and one way to get there is to stop thinking. I’ve been working to stop thinking all week and I don’t think I’m doing very well.
Do not try to stop thinking. Transcend thinking by raising your consciousness. There are methods to do this. One is to observe your thoughts as a witness and try to non-identify yourself so that your thoughts do not carry you away. As if you are standing on a roadside and many kinds of people are passing by; you are just witnessing them and not getting involved. This needs a lot of practice but gradually, depending on how regularly and sincerely you do it, you will be successful in witnessing your thoughts. The time will come when you become truly unidentified with that stream of thoughts so that you transcend them.
The second way is to suggest to yourself: all my thoughts are different forms or patterns of consciousness, so let me go to the Source of these thoughts. This also gets you free from thoughts. The third way is to recognize that any thought is keeping you bound to the intellect, therefore as any thought arises, suggest to yourself: not this, not this. I do not want this because I cannot know the truth by thinking. If you truly believe that rationality will not get you to the Reality, then why to have it?
These practices may take you weeks, months or years, depending on how you do them. It is easy to cultivate thoughts. We go on multiplying thoughts and desires and at that time we do not think about what we are accumulating. But when we want to get rid of thoughts, there is a whole mine to be dug and cleared. Therefore, when you begin to empty your mind, it takes time and effort, which varies with each individual. It may seem difficult, but suggest to yourself: nothing is impossible, I can do it. This is not boastfulness but a determination. You may fail many times, then what? Just do it until it happens. Determination is within your own will.
There is a fourth way too but very few can do it. Instead of exorcising your thoughts, simply surrender to the Lord and He will clear them. This method, where there is no resistance, is quicker and easier. It is ego’s resistance that makes it difficult. If you surrender unto the Lord, even if you have accumulated thoughts for births, He will wash them off quickly.
Seeker: How can I attain silence?
The mind has many habits, including talking. If you take a vow to keep silence, the mouth would like to speak, even about silence. Outer silence requires will power. The mind will like to bubble out, it has so much stuff inside. Talking is a kind of energy, but if you can convert that into subtle energy through your will, that energy is more powerful. When you release your will, your vibrations work wonders.
On the highest level of silence, you remain so immersed in your God that you do not have to speak. Whether you talk or not makes no difference. Your talking is silence, your silence is speech. When you are in longing and love of God, then you do not have to use even that finer energy. Then His will works through you.
Long back in India I heard this story. There were two mauni sadhus - young acolytes or novice renunciates who take a vow of silence. Holy people in India do this for days or months and sometimes for years. Their Guru had told them to keep silence and walk the entire length of the Narmada River, which takes about two years. Such yatras are often undertaken by sadhus and if they are successful they achieve much will power and mental control. What happened was that at one juncture on the river there was a temple beneath which there was a place to rest for the night. These are free lodgings offered to sadhus, just basic floor space, and sadhus generally spread a blanket and sleep there.
These two were good renunciates, smeared in ashes, matted hair, carrying only a staff and blanket, but the problem was that they carried their minds with them. One of the sadhus spread his blanket and the other had eyed the same spot; he tossed the blanket aside and put his own there. Then the other sadhu did the same - and all the time they wouldn’t talk. The fire inside was flaring up and eventually the first sadhu took the blanket of the second and threw it outside. Then the other sadhu took the first sadhu’s blanket and threw it in the river. They got so excited, blood boiling, and so angry that they came to blows - HMMM, HMMM, HMMM - but still they would not talk! In the Temple the priest heard something downstairs and he came and saw these two mauni sadhus fighting. Had they kept their minds on God or Guru, they would not have come to blows! Verbal silence is the lowest form of silence. Silencing the mind is much higher.
The better way is prayer and will power. And the best is to keep your mind on your God or Goal so much you do not have to talk, or talk only when necessary. Talking is not evil provided it is done within limits. God has given us the power of speech. The Vedas call it vak - “the word was with God, the word was God.” Speech is one of the greatest powers, attributed to Saraswati, the goddess of learning. When you talk unnecessarily, you are wasting your energy. Vak is not only physical energy but also subtle energy. It can have tremendous power if you control it and use it wisely. Words potentially have such power that when you utter them, whatever you say manifests. We have lost that power of speech primarily through misuse or over-use. That shakti lies dormant within you.
Keeping silence is just the first step to conserve energy. In the modern world it is difficult to accept this, but speech is a great energy. However, that energy is retained only when you become perfectly truthful. Then whatever you say will happen. The same with thought: when you have perfect truth in thinking, whatever you think will happen. The word has power. That is how God created. He spoke and it happened. So do not waste your speech. When you speak, speak truth. Take a vow sometimes to keep silence for half a day, one day or two days. Find a way to be alone so that you do not have to speak to anyone. Eventually you will come to a matured control of that power, and then whatever you will, it will happen. Word has this power, within everyone, but first cultivate truthfulness and control of speech.
© 2011 by Truth Consciousness. Excerpted from the Satsangs of Swami Amar Jyoti: Getting to the Source of Everything (M-19) and How to Focus on the Goal (P-12). For further information on the audio Satsangs of Swami Amar Jyoti please see truthconsciousness.org.