Stillness is pradakshina, the movement around That for worship.
Silence is meditation and silence is basic for any religious experience. What is silence? You can create it, you can cultivate it, you can force it, but then it is just superficial, false, pseudo. You can practice it, and you will begin to feel and experience it – but your practice makes it auto-hypnotic. It is not the real silence. Real silence comes only when your mind dissolves: not through any effort, but through understanding; not through any practice, but through an inner awareness.
We are filled with sounds, outside and inside. In the outside world it is impossible to create a situation which is silent. Even when we move to a deep forest, there is no silence – only new sounds, natural sounds. At midnight everything stops, but it is not silence – only new sounds, sounds you are not acquainted with. They are more harmonious, of course, more musical, but they are still sounds, not silence.
Silence is impossible in the outside world. [. . . .]
The real inside is absolutely silent. If you allow me, I will say that the absolute point of silence is the inside. Sound is outside, silence is inside. “Silence” and “inside” are synonymous. If you move out, then you move in sound. If you move in, then you move in silence. You must reach a point where no-sound is, or as the Zen Masters say, the soundless sound. The Hindu yogis have always called it anahat nada; the uncreated sound of silence.
But one need not use these paradoxical words: it will be easy to understand with simple words.
Outside is sound, inside there is silence, soundlessness. [. . . .]
If you are thinking in terms of objective silence, there is no possibility of silence. If you are thinking of silence as being somewhere other than your inner center, then there is no possibility of it. But you can create a pseudo silence very easily. You can cultivate it; you can practice it.
For example, you can use any mantra. Constant repetition will give you a pseudo-feeling of silence, a false feeling of silence. Constant repetition of a mantra hypnotizes you. You begin to feel dull, your awareness is lost, you become more and more sleepy. In that sleepiness you may feel that you have become silent, but it is not silence. Silence means that the mind is dissolved through understanding. The more you understand your mind, the more you become aware of its mechanism and working, and the more you are disidentified with your mind.
It is identification which creates inner noise. Anger is there in the mind: you are identified with it; you do not see it as an object. The anger is there somewhere outside you, but you begin to feel angry, you begin to become one with it. Then you miss your inner center, you have moved. Many thoughts are flowing in the mind continuously, the thought process is on, and you are identified with each and every thought. Any thought is yours; you become one with it. Then you have moved.
Not only with thought do you become one, but with things still further from your center. Your house is not only your house: you have become your house. Your possessions are not just your possessions: you are identified with them. When your car is damaged, your innerness is also damaged. When your house is on fire, you are also on fire. If all of your possessions are just taken away, you will die.
We are identified with our possessions, we are identified with our thoughts, we are identified with our emotions, we are identified with everything except ourselves. We are identified with everything except with the innermost center. Because of this identification, noise is created, conflict, a continuous anguish, tension.
It is bound to be there because you are not your house. There is a gap and you have forgotten the gap. You are not your wife; you are not your husband. There is a gap: you have forgotten the gap. You are not your thoughts, your anger or your love or your hatred. There is a gap. When you begin to feel this gap, you are always outside it, a witness, not involved in it. With anything in which you are not involved, you are outside it. [. . . .]
There is a gap. And the moment your focus of consciousness is transferred from object to sounds, to the soundless center of awareness, you are in silence. So I would like to say that you are silence, and everything else except you is sound. If you are identified with anything, then you will never attain this soundlessness.
This sutra says: “Silence, stillness, is pradakshina, the movement around That for worship.” You go to a temple and then you move around the altar of the deity seven times. This is a ritual of worship, but every ritual is symbolic. Why seven rounds? Man has seven bodies, and with each body there are identifications. So when someone moves in, he has to leave seven bodies and the identification with each body. There are seven rounds; when these seven rounds are complete, you are in the center.
The altar in the temple is not something outside you. You are the temple, and the altar is your inner center. If the mind moves around the center and comes nearer and nearer and nearer and, ultimately, is established in the center, this is pradakshina. And when you happen to be at your center, everything is silent. This silence is achieved through understanding – understanding of your anger, your passion, your greed, your sex, everything. It is an understanding of your mind. But we are identified with our minds; we think we are our minds. That is the only problem: how to be detached from our own minds, how to be divorced, so to speak, from our own minds.. . . .]
The mind is the problem, and the mind is always looking outside, never in. A divorce is needed not with a particular mind, not with this or that mind, but with mind itself. With “minding” itself a divorce is needed, and only then do you enter silence.
So what is to be done? You can do two things: one is to transform mind itself. Another, which is very ordinary, and which is done everywhere, is not to try to change this mind, but to use some technique to drug this mind. Then the mind remains as it is; no transformation is needed. A mantra is given to you, a method, a certain technique: you do it with this very mind.
You are capable of dulling it and drugging it. Then it will be less active on the surface, but it will be more active in the deeper realms. It may become absolutely inactive on the surface, and you may be befooled by it, but the activity will continue inside. Use a mantra: go on repeating Rama-Rama or Krishna – any name – and on the surface the mind will become silent. But inside you will feel the activity.
Just below the surface of the mind much activity is going on. Thinking continues in subdued terms, in subdued tones. Everything continues; it just goes underground. This is very easy. That is why mantra yoga is a very prevalent thing. It has appeal. Mahesh Yogi’s transcendental meditation is just this sort of self-deception. It is just a trick; you can play it. It will help in the beginning, and for a few days you will feel very much edified, elevated. Then everything stops. A plateau is reached. When the surface has become a little bit silent, then you cannot do this technique; you cannot do anything with it. And then, by and by, the subdued notes will become again clear.
This is simple autohypnosis. Even if you think, “I am silent, I am silent, I am getting more silent every day,” you will begin to feel a certain silence. But that feeling is just thought-created. Stop thinking and it will evaporate. This is Coué’s method: just go on thinking repeatedly, continuously, that you are silent, that you are getting more and more silent day by day. Go on continuously repeating this. Constant repetition will befool you. You will begin to think, “Of course, now I am silent.” This is self-deception, and it leads nowhere. You remain the same; there is no transformation.
This sutra is not concerned with such stillnesses. This sutra is concerned with the authentic silence which comes not through techniques but through understanding. And what do I mean by understanding? Do not fight with the mind; try to understand it. Anger is there: do not be angry against anger, do not fight anger. Rather, try to understand what anger is: what this energy is, why it comes, what the cause of it is, what the origin of it is, and where the source is. Meditate upon anger, and the more you become aware of it, the less and less anger will come to you. And when there is no anger, you are thrown into your inner silence.
Sex is there: do not fight it; try to understand it. But we are fighting with ourselves. Either we are identified with the mind, or we are fighting with the mind. In both the cases we are the losers. If you are identified, then you will indulge in anger, in sex, in greed, in jealousy. If you are fighting, then you will create anti-attitudes. Then you will create inner divisions. Then you will create inner polarities. And you will be divided – no one else, because the anger is your anger. Now if you fight it, you will have double anger – anger plus this angriness against anger – and you will be divided. You can go on fighting, but this fight is just absurd.
It is as if I am trying to fight my right hand with my left hand. I can go on fighting. Sometimes my right hand will win, sometimes my left hand will win – but there is no victory. You can play the game, but there is neither defeat nor victory . . . because you are fighting from both the sides. No victory is possible because there is no one except you. You are playing with yourself, dividing yourself. This fight, this inner fight, is the curse of all religious persons, because the moment they become aware of the hell their minds have created, they begin to fight it. But through fight, you will never move anywhere.
Many reasons are there. When you fight with your mind, you have to remain with it, and when you fight with your mind, it shows ignorance. The mind is there only because you have a deep cooperation with it. If the cooperation is withdrawn, the mind dissolves. Then there is no need to fight. The mind is not your enemy. It is just the accumulation of your own experiences. It is your mind because you have accumulated it. And you cannot fight with your experiences. If you do, then the greater possibility is this – that your experiences may win. They are more weighty than you.
This happens every day. If you fight with your mind, your mind wins in the end – not ultimately, but it wins and you have to yield. Real, authentic stillness is not achieved through fight. Fight is suppressive, repressive. And whatsoever is repressed has to be repressed again and again, and whatsoever is repressed will try to rebel against you. You will become a madhouse – fighting with yourself, talking with yourself, taking revenge upon yourself, yielding to yourself, being defeated by yourself. You will become a madhouse!
Do not be in a fight with the mind. This will create such noise that even ordinary persons are not so filled with inner noise as religious persons are. Ordinary persons are not even bothered like this. They go on, they take it easy. They know it is a hell, but they accept what is. A religious person knows the mind is a hell, so he denies it, fights with it, and then a double hell is created.
You cannot create heaven by fighting hell. If you want to transcend, fight is not the way. Awareness, knowing what this mind is, is the way. So what is to be done? Be aware of suppressive methods. Only one thing is essential – whatsoever you are doing, do it with full awareness. If you are angry, then be angry with awareness.
Gurdjieff used to create situations for his disciples. He would just create situations! You would have just come into the room, and Gurdjieff would create a situation in which you were insulted. Someone would say something very abusive about you, someone else would say something else that is abusive, and you would begin to get angry. The whole group would help you to get angry, and you would be unaware of what was happening. And Gurdjieff would push you into more and more anger, and then suddenly you would burst, you would explode, you would become mad.
And then Gurdjieff would say, “Now be angry with full awareness. Do not go back, do not fall back from the anger. Just be angry.” And it is easy to fall back from it. Then he would say, “Be alert inside and see what is happening in you. Close your eyes and see what is happening. From where are these clouds of anger coming? From where is this smoke coming? Find the inner fire inside from where this smoke is coming.”
Gurdjieff was always creating situations. He was of the opinion that if we want a more silent world, we must teach our children how to be angry, how to be jealous, how to be filled with hate, how to be violent. We must teach them! We are doing quite the opposite. We say, “Do not be angry!” No one tells what anger is. No one teaches that if you are going to be angry, then be angry in a tactful way, then be angry efficiently, then be a master of anger. No one is teaching this! Everyone is against anger, and everyone is saying, “Do not be angry!” The child is even unaware of what anger is, but we tell him, “Don’t be angry,” and we go on laying down commandments: “Don’t do this, don’t do that.”
A child was asked what his name was, and he said, “‘Don’t,’ because whenever I do anything, either my mother or my father shouts, ‘Don’t!’ So I think this is my name. I am always called by Don’t.”
This creates a fighting attitude. Without knowledge you are against certain things. And if you are ignorant, you cannot win because knowledge is power. Not only scientifically in the outside world, but inwardly also knowledge is power.
There is electricity in the clouds. It has always been there, but we were ignorant in the past. The electricity in the clouds would only create fear in us and nothing else. Now we know about it. Now the electricity has become our slave, so there is no fear. Otherwise, the Vedas say that when God is angry with you, he will send thunder, he will send storms, lightning. When he is angry this will happen with you. It was “God’s anger,” they said. Now we have channelized it. Now it is no more God’s anger; it is no more at all related with God. We are manipulating it. Thus, knowledge becomes power.
Inner anger is just like electricity, like lightning. Previously the lightning in the clouds was “God’s anger”; then we came to know about it. Knowledge became power, and now there is no “God’s anger” in the clouds. Your anger is again an inner electricity. The moment you know about it, there will be no anger inside you. And then you can channelize your anger: it will become your servant.
A person who has no real anger will really be impotent. Anger is energy. If you do not know it, it becomes suicidal. If you know about it, you can transform the energy. You can use it. Then it is just your slave. And the same for everything. Your thoughts, they are energy; they can be used. If you become silent, you become the master of your thoughts. At present you have thoughts but no thinking – many thoughts and no thinking. When you have no thoughts, you have become the master of your process of thinking; you can think for the first time. Thinking is energy, but then you are the master.
With the discovery of the inner still point, you become the master. Without this discovery, you will remain a slave to your instincts, to anything. Knowledge will lead you in, so make yourself a laboratory. You are a universe. Find out what your energies are – they are not your enemies – what are your energies?
Choose your chief characteristic. Remember this: choose the chief characteristic. Find out whether anger is your chief characteristic or sex or greed or jealousy or hate. What is your chief characteristic? Find out first, because if you go on without knowing the chief characteristic, it will be a difficult process to go in – because the chief characteristic has your energy in it. It is the central thing; everything else is just secondary to it, subsidiary to it.
If your anger is the chief characteristic, then all else will be just a support to it. Find the center of your energies, and then begin to be aware of it. Then forget everything else. If greed is your chief characteristic, then be aware of greed and forget everything else. When greed is solved, everything else will be solved. And remember this: do not imitate anyone else because another’s chief characteristic may be a different thing.
Because of this imitative tendency, we create unnecessary problems. For example, Buddha had one thing to transform. Mahavir had another thing, Jesus something else. If you blindly follow Jesus, then you will begin to fight with the chief characteristic of Jesus rather than with your own, and that will misguide you. If you blindly follow Buddha, then again you are misguided. Understand Buddha, understand Jesus, but find your own disease and concentrate your awareness on that particular disease. If the main disease is solved, minor diseases will dissolve by themselves.
We go on fighting with minor diseases. Then you can waste lives together. You change one minor disease, and another minor disease will be created, because the source of energy, the central source of your disease, remains intact. [. . . .]
So you can go on cutting the leaves of a tree, and the tree will again put out new leaves. You cut one and the tree will supply two, and the tree will be greener for your effort, more green. You cannot cut leaves; you can only cut roots. Leaves and roots are different things. When I say, “the chief characteristic,” I mean the root. When I say, “minor problems,” I mean leaves. And the problem becomes more difficult to solve because leaves are apparent and roots are underground. They are the source of all the leaves. You cut the whole tree, and a new tree will come out because the roots are intact. You cut the roots, and the tree will disappear automatically. There is no need to be bothered with the tree.
But the roots are underground; your chief characteristic will always be found underground. So whatsoever you say is your problem is never the case. It can be taken for granted that that is not the case. Rather, quite the opposite may be the case, because we go on hiding our inner weaknesses. And just to distract the mind, just to forget the real problems, we create minor problems. [. . . .]
In your inner world, you go on avoiding problems which you cannot solve. You try to forget problems which you cannot solve; you begin to focus your mind on problems which you can solve. Because of that, your chief diseases go underground. Ultimately, you are not even aware of them, and you go on fighting with phony problems that are not real problems. These phony problems can take much energy and dissipate your energies, destroy them, and you remain the same because you go on fighting with the leaves.
So the first thing toward inner stillness is to find out what the root of your problems, of your conflicts, of your tension, is – what the root is! Do not think about how to solve it, because if you think of solving you will be afraid. Do not think of solving it. First, there must be a simple finding out of what the chief characteristic of the mind is, what the center of the mind is. No question about solving it, no idea about changing it, just take a simple inventory to find out what the chief problem of your mind is.
Do not go on escaping from the chief characteristic and do not create phony problems. It will not help. Even if you solve them, it will not help. Once you know the chief characteristic of your mind, just be aware of it: how it works, how it creates inner nets, how it goes on working inside and influencing your whole life. Just be aware. Still do not think about how to change it, because the moment you begin to think about how to change it you miss the opportunity of being aware.
Anger is there, greed is there, sex is there: do not think of changing them, do not think of transcending them. They are there: be aware. Transcendence is not a result; it is a consequence. Remember this difference. The difference is subtle. Transcendence is not a result: it is a consequence! What do I mean? You cannot think about transcendence; you cannot think how to go beyond mind. By thinking you will never go. If I say, “Be aware,” I do not mean that by awareness you can go beyond mind. [. . . .]
So if I say that by awareness you will transcend, do not think that awareness is a method and that because you want to transcend then you will transcend. Do not think, “Of course, if awareness is the method, then I am going to practice it; through it I will transcend.” Then you will never transcend. If awareness is attained, transcendence happens. It is a consequence; it comes. If awareness is there, transcendence will come. Then you will go beyond your mind; you will reach the inner center of stillness. But you cannot desire it.
That is what I mean when I say that it is not a result. A result can be desired, but a consequence follows. It cannot be desired! A result can be manipulated, planned, but a consequence cannot be manipulated, cannot be planned. If you are really aware, you will transcend. Awareness is not a method for transcendence. Awareness is transcendence. This constant awareness of your mind dissolves your greed, your anger, your sex, your hate, your jealousy, by and by. They dissolve automatically. There is no effort to dissolve them, not even any intention to dissolve them, not any longing to dissolve them. They are there, so rather than an intention to dissolve them, acceptance is more helpful.
Accept your anger. It is there: accept it and be aware of it. These are two things: acceptance and awareness. And you can be aware only if you accept totally. If you do not accept me, you cannot look at my face. If you do not accept me, you will try to avoid me in subtle ways. Even if I am present in the room, you will look in some other direction, you will think of something else. If you do not accept me, if you reject me, your whole mind will try to avoid me. If you reject anger, you cannot be aware. You cannot encounter it face to face. And when anger is encountered face to face, it dissolves. When sex is encountered face to face, the energy is released into a different dimension. Encounter your mind and accept it. [. . . .]
This is the secret. If a madman can accept his madness totally, madness will disappear. With whatsoever you can accept totally, a new phenomenon happens inside. Through acceptance, conflict is dissolved, and the energy that was being dissipated in conflict is not dissipated now. You become stronger. With this strength and awareness, you go higher than your mind.
So you should have acceptance of the mind and awareness of the mind – and a third thing: you should move in this world, live in this world, not from the periphery, but from the center.
Someone abuses you; he is speaking against your name. The man who lives from the periphery will think, “He is saying something against me.” The man who lives from the center will think, “He is speaking against the name, and I am not the name. I was born without any name. The name is just a label on the periphery, so why become disturbed? He is saying something not against me, but against the name.”
If you are identified with the name, then you become disturbed. If you can feel the gap between the name and you, between the periphery and you, then the periphery is hurt, but the hurt never reaches to the center.
One Hindu sannyasin, Swami Ramateertha, was in America. Someone abused him, but he came laughing and told his disciples, “Someone was abusing Rama very much. Rama was in great difficulty. He was being abused, and he was in great difficulty.”
So the disciples asked, “About whom are you talking? Rama is your name.”
Ramateertha said, “It is, of course, my name – but not me. They do not know me at all. How can they abuse me? They know only my name.”
Even if your action is abused, it is not you – only the action. If you can maintain a gap – and that is not difficult with awareness; it is the most easy thing – then the periphery is touched, but the center remains untouched. If the center remains untouched, sooner or later you are bound to discover the point of deep stillness which is not only your point, but the point, the central point, of the whole Existence.
I was reading a story just this morning. It is one of the most beautiful stories. One young seeker, after a long and arduous journey, reached the hut of his Master, the Master of his choice. It was evening, and the Master was just sweeping fallen leaves. The seeker greeted the Master, but the Master remained silent. He asked many questions, but there were no replies. He tried in every way to get the attention of the Master, but the Master was there as if he were alone. He went on sweeping the fallen leaves.
Seeing no possibility of getting the attention of the Master, the disciple decided to make a hut in the same forest and to live there. He lived there for years. After a time, the past dropped, because in order for it to continue one has to go on creating it daily. You have to create your past again and again daily in order to continue it. But in the forest everything was silent. No man was there; only the Master was there who was just like no man. There was no communication. He would not even reply to a greeting; he would not even look at the disciple. His eyes were just vacant, an emptiness.
So after a time, the past dissolved. The disciple continued to be there. Thoughts were there; then by and by they slowed down because you have to feed them daily for them to continue. If you do not feed them, they cannot continue forever. With nothing to do, he would relax, sit silently, sweep the fallen leaves. One day, after many years, he was sweeping the fallen leaves and he became Enlightened. He stopped everything, and he ran to the master’s hut and went in. The Master was sweeping fallen leaves. The disciple said, “Thank you, sir!”
Of course, the Master never replied. But this “thank you” is beautiful. He went to the Master and said, “Thank you, sir.” Only because of this Master not replying to him – not giving any intellectual answers, not even looking at him, remaining so silent – only because of this did he learn something from the Master. He learned this silence; he learned this living in the center without being bothered by the periphery.
Someone is greedy: this is a peripheral matter; let him be greedy. Someone is asking something: this is a peripheral matter; let him ask. The Master remained undisturbed. He went on sweeping his dead leaves. He didn’t say anything, but he showed a way. He did not say anything, but he answered. He was the answer! Such a silence the disciple had never before known! Such an absent presence he had never witnessed! It was as if the man was not there, as if the man was a nothingness, not a man; a nobodiness, not a man.
Without saying anything, the Master had said much. Rather, he showed much, and the disciple followed. It was only one lesson, but a very secret one: to remain in the center and not be bothered by the periphery. For years together, the disciple tried to remain in the center not being bothered by the periphery. One day, while sweeping the fallen dead leaves, he was Awakened. Years had passed, and now there was such gratefulness! He stopped everything, ran to the Master and said, “Thank you, sir!” Just by following a hidden answer, it happened.
But it depends on you. Someone else in his place might have felt humiliated, insulted, might have felt that this man is mad, might have got angry. Then he would have missed a great opportunity. But he was not negative. He took it very positively. He felt the meaning of it, he tried to live it, and the thing happened. It was a consequence; it was not a result. He could have imitated, but this was not imitation. He never came again. He was in the same forest, but he never came again until the happening. He came only twice: first he came to greet the Master, and then he came to thank him.
What was he doing for all these years? It was a simple lesson. There was only one secret, but it was the most basic one. He tried not to be bothered by the periphery. He accepted himself. Not bothering with the periphery, not being bothered by the periphery, he remained aware. He was so aware, really, that it was as if these twenty years were not there. And when the thing happened, when the happening was there, he ran as if nothing had happened within these twenty years. Twenty years before, the Master had shown him a way, but it was as if these twenty years were not there. He reached the Master to thank him – as if he had shown him the way just a moment before.
If silence is there, time disappears. Time is a peripheral matter. If silence is there, you become grateful to everything – to the sky, to the earth, to the sun, to the moon, to everything. If silence is there, any moment the old world disappears, the old you is no more there. The old man is dead, and a new life, a new energy, is born.
This sutra says that this is pradakshina. If you can enter into the center of your Being, this is stillness – where there is no sound. Only then have you entered the temple, worshipped the deity, encircled, done the ritual. In a temple, we can go on continuously doing the ritual without ever being aware of what this ritual means. Every ritual is a secret key. The ritual in itself is childish. If you do not know that a key is a key, you can play with it. But then you might as well throw it, since in the end you will come to realize that this is meaningless – because you do not know the lock and you do not know the key or that something can be opened by it. These are secret languages.
Rituals are secret languages. Through them something has been communicated. Books can be destroyed because languages become dead; the meaning of words goes on changing. Because of this, whenever there has been an Enlightened One he has created certain rituals. They are more permanent languages. When the scriptures disappear, when religions become dead, when old languages cannot be understood or can be misinterpreted, the rituals continue.
Sometimes a whole religion disappears, but the rituals go on. They become transplanted into new religions. They enter new religions without anyone being aware of what is happening. Rituals are a permanent language, and whenever one goes deep in them the secrets are discovered. This Upanishad is basically concerned with the ritual of worship, and every act is meaningful.
In itself it looks childish. It is stupid to go into a temple and make rounds around the altar or around the image of the deity. It looks stupid! What are you doing? In itself it is stupid because we have forgotten that the key is a key. Its meaning is in knowing the lock; its meaning is in opening the lock. These seven rounds around the altar are concerned with the seven bodies, and the altar is concerned with the innermost center.
Move around your center, go on moving inwards, and a moment comes when every movement stops. Then there is no sound; you have entered silence. This silence is Divine, this silence is bliss, this silence is the aim of all religions, and this silence is the purpose of all life. And unless you attain this silence, whatsoever you may attain is useless, meaningless; even if you can attain the whole world, it is of no use.
But if you attain this inner silence, this center, and you lose the whole world, even then it is worth attaining. No bargain is bad – even if everything is staked, sacrificed. When you achieve the inner silence, you know that whatsoever you have paid for it was nothing. What you receive is invaluable; what you have lost for it was just rubbish.
But the rubbish is wealth to us, the rubbish is very valuable to us. And I will repeat again: if you think that you can purchase with this rubbish, then you will never be able to get to the center. The center cannot be a result. If you throw this rubbish, you attain to it – that is a consequence.
Stillness is pradakshina, the movement around That for worship – around That, the inner center or the innermost center. “This” is the periphery, “That” is the center. So go on leaving “This” and go on moving toward “That.” This is all that sadhana consists of; this is the path.
From The Ultimate Alchemy, V.2 #7
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