Silence, Self and Surrender

Live in total surrender and you will live happily ever after!
Yesterday, a well-meaning friend suggested that we try a new form of Vaastu that helps release positive energy in a living space. His point: Vaani and I badly need that positive energy to bounce back in our Life and business. While I don’t deny that we need to bounce back in business, we can’t quite relate, anymore, to any of the methods that are on offer. Not that we didn’t try them before. We did. We wore rings and stones on our fingers, we tried foo dogs and laughing Buddhas and fountains and gem trees, we tried “freeing” up the north-east corner of our home and almost every method that’s available in the public domain. To be sure, we still consult astrology and use it like a dashboard. Even so, with due respect to all the sciences that promise “better living”, I can, through my own personal experience, learnt that the only science that works for intelligent living is the science of silence, Self and surrender.
Simply, when you embrace silence, you understand your true nature, your true Self, and through that understanding you learn to let go and surrender to Life.
I have come to realize that this is the best way to live. Don’t protest any situation. Don’t berate yourself. Don’t be angry, guilty, fearful or anxious. Just accept what is, work to your best ability on changing what is if you don’t like it, and surrender to Life’s ways, to its flow. This is a discipline – like a fitness regimen or a diet or a manufacturing process. You learn to perfect it over time. And you start by being silent for a certain period of time daily – usually 20 minutes is a good start for beginners. Slowly increase it to an hour. During your silence period, you remain silent; don’t try to silence the environment, you remain silent! With diligent practice of daily silence periods, you will awaken to this truth that your trying to control your Life is meaningless drama. You will know that whatever is happening to you is beyond your control and is happening in spite of you and never because of you. Then you will realize that total surrender – saranagatias the scriptures teach us – is what intelligent living is all about!  

Surrender does not mean inaction. It only means that you act knowing that the outcome is not in your control. Not in your hands. So you act, to the best of your ability, and leave the outcome to Life – accepting whatever is! Then you are forever soaking in positivity. You are always happy no matter what circumstances you are placed in. You don’t need any crutches – Vaastu, Feng Shui, superstitions, astrology, gemology – to live. To live well, to live happily, you only need to be silent for some time daily, you will then know who you really are and will realize the value of total surrender!

To not fight petty battles is an intelligent choice

Sometimes the best way to respond to a situation is not to respond at all – not to say anything.   
A friend of mine was recently sacked by his organization. He is yet another old hand in that organization who has been booted out in the last few months. He posted a goodbye message on Facebook where he had many people offering him their sympathies for the ungraceful manner in which his exit was happening. He simply thanked all of them saying, “There are times when you must remain silent and simply move on.”
I liked my friend’s approach to his crisis situation. Offline he told me that indeed he was hurt with the manner in which his 30-year, meritorious, service record in the company was overlooked by the new management. But he explained, “What is the point in talking sense to people who have no ethics and no scruples? There are only two ways I can respond to them – either accept their golden handshake or fight their action in court. I decided to take the first approach. That way, I can be at peace and work on rehabilitating myself elsewhere.”
To not fight a situation or a scheming detractor does not necessarily mean cowardice. It means you have chosen not to expend your precious energy on a wasted cause. Silence is a very strong weapon that most people don’t even realize they have in their arsenal, let alone them knowing that they can deploy it. To not fight a petty battle is an intelligent choice. To remain silent in the face of provocation is also often the best form of aggression.   

Unless we know when we worry, we will never be able to quit worrying.

The key to being liberated from worry is to be aware. Being aware requires only being. Just being. Nothing else.
There’s a perception, as a follower of this Blog commented the other day, that simply being is tough. No, it is not.
Examine yourself. Most of the time you worry without even applying your mind. It is a mechanical affair going on in your head. What will happen to this? Or that? Will I get what I want? Will my child be happy? Will my spouse survive? What if something terrible happens and what I want done is not accomplished? It is an incessant chatter. A cacophony in your head. And one worry sparks off another and another. Often times, this becomes uncontrollable. And you seek remedy. Someone tells you to lean towards meditation. Someone else tells you to propitiate the Gods. Someone again tells you to meet an astrologer or soothsayer or a tantric. Why? Because your mind refuses to listen to you.
Kabir, the 16th Century, weaver-poet, says this so beautifully in his couplet!
“Maala To Kar Mein Phire,
Jeebh Phire Mukh Mahin
Manua To Chahun Dish Phire,
Yeh To Simran Nahin”
Translation
The rosary rotating by the hand,
the tongue twisting in the mouth,
With the mind wandering everywhere, this isn’t meditation
(counting the rosary, repeating mantras, if the mind is traveling – this is not meditation)
Meaning: Control the mind, not the beads or the words.
That ability to control the mind will come only from your awareness. Awareness can be inspired in you by practicing silence.
Spend an hour being silent every day. Just being. Read a passage. Write your thoughts in your personal journal. Do whatever you want, but remain silent and refuse to attend to anything that calls for you to disengage from what you plan to do in that hour. Don’t sleep. Don’t speak. Your hour of silence can make you super productive and aware during the other 23 hours in the day! So, it is good return on investment. This is the practice of ‘mouna’.
To be sure, it will not eradicate worry. Worry will arise, but your awareness will cut off that flow of thought. It will arrest the worry in its tracks. And help you come back to focusing on whatever you are doing in the moment. Practicing ‘mouna’or silence periods bring you to appreciate the power of now! Remember, there is precious little you can do about what you worry about by simply worrying! You can either act on a situation and succeed, or act on a situation and if you fail, accept that outcome. Or just leave the situation to Life to sort things out over time. Why worry? And then, worse, why worry about your worrying? The bottomline is don’t worry about worrying. Focus on where that worry germinates, sprouts, takes root. Go to that point and stem the flow of worry.

‘Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves’

Take care of yourself. Help heal yourself.

When we injure ourselves, say a nick while shaving or a cut while chopping vegetables, the body heals itself. If there is a deeper injury, with some care, we are back on the road. The truth is when the body is affected, it receives attention. The truth also is we injure our minds all the time but we don’t give it the care it needs to heal. Every angry thought, every remorseful thought, in fact every thought that is not centered around love, peace and joy, is injurious. Now, ask yourself, how many such thoughts on love, peace and joy, do you think out of the 60,000 thoughts that occur to you each day? Unlikely that we even think loving, peaceful thoughts for weeks on end!! Consider therefore how battered the mind must be and how much healing needs to happen for it to be ‘normal’ again. Unless we heal from within we cannot expect our lives to become meaningful.
Mouna’, the practice of silence periods, is the best way to heal our minds, to help it develop focus, faith and patience. The 13th Century Persian poet Rumi couldn’t have said it better: “In silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.” Stop weaving here means to stop worrying, to stop wanting to control your Life, to stop the continuous chatter in your head; it means to pause and reflect. So, to make your life beautiful, happy and prosperous, stop battering your mind; heal it by anchoring in silence!

Allow Life to slip into you and touch your soul

Sometimes, it is best not to do anything. No agendas. No meetings. Just hang around. Goof off.

We are so used to a frenetic pace of working that when Life slows down we think something’s wrong. And remain keyed up about the slowness of things. Vacation times such as this season are opportunities to learn the art of doing nothing. Doing nothing here clearly means “not having any business to transact, or schedules to worry about”. But it doesn’t mean being unproductive. In fact, you can learn so much about Life without having to rush through it. You don’t even need to travel. You don’t need a resort. Even if you stay at home this season, choose to do what you would normally not have the time to do. Just examine your street from your window. Watch people passing by. Hear the birds. Listen to the music from the noise vehicles passing by make. Feel the air in your lungs. Spend some time on the pavement. Watch Life playing out in front of you. You will evolve and awaken more than you would while attending a Vipassana Program or a Silent Retreat. You will heal.

A Zen proverb says, “Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.” So, allow Life to slip into you, touch your soul and show you a glimpse of bliss. If you like it, do more of doing nothing. If you don’t, well, it will be so simple__all you need to do is to rush back to rushing!

You can brave any storm in Life if you find its epicenter – which is within you!

Life’s full of storms. Some are personal __ health-related or relationship-focused. You or someone you know is battling a deadly ailment or someone walked out on you, leaving you numb, alone and suffering. Some are professional __ your career just doesn’t seem to settle down, you get laid off or your business keeps making losses leaving you without clients, without cash and with a mountain of losses and debt. You lose someone dear. And you feel you can’t go on in Life. A friend once recounted how he felt when his father died suddenly, when he was barely 19. “It was like the roof over your head being blown away by a raging storm and you are there, alone, drenched to the bone, cold, lonely and scared!” he described.
Maybe you too have felt this way. This feeling invariably leads to anxiety and hopelessness and agitation. You desperately want the reality to change__and NOW! But why? Because you feel you will be destroyed, annihilated.
That’s such a naïve perspective. Let us understand how storms work. In the eye of the storm, the epicenter of a cyclone, there is no destruction. Because there is no chaos. There’s only peace. And the strength of a storm emanates from its core. The epicenter of the storm is also its power center. This is science. Apply the same logic to Life’s storms also. If things are happening around you__you lose a job, your health suffers, a relation dies, you lose money__know that they are not happening to you. You are not your job, you are not your body (and therefore not your health!), you are not losing a relation__you are merely losing the body in which the soul you related to was housed, you are not your money! At the core, you have the opportunity to be peaceful and feel empowered instead of feeling helpless. You are indestructible. So, why flap your wings and kick your feet in distress?
More often than not, we are operating on the surface of Life. The waves are on the surface and on the periphery of the ocean. They are never inthe ocean. All that we are experience in today’s world, in this lifetime of running the rat race__protecting our incomes, securing our deposits, saving to invest in real estate and worrying endlessly about our children__are all surface level activities. To find peace__and our true selves__we must brave the waves, we must go beneath__and past__Life’s storms. Dive into the storm. Go deep. Drop anchor by practicing silence periods daily. ‘Mouna’ or the practice of silence periods will take you to your center, and to the real you. And the Life storm you find yourself in the middle of will blow over, leaving you unscathed, stronger, wiser, saner__and awakened.