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Individuality Is A Mistaken Notion - The Sound Of Silence

The greatness of the human being lies not in its obsession to become distinct or separate, but in its innate pull to converge with the universe and merge with the Real.

Partly the problem with the notion of individuality is that it is a mistaken notion. Instead of seeing oneself as identical with the Real, we generally see ourselves as limited in space and time.

Self-abnegation is an important goal of all faith traditions and that can be achieved only by opening oneself to interactions with different belief systems. It also truly leads one to greatness by becoming part of a greater collective. Even the mental strength of such a person increases manifold.

When one is intent on maintaining one’s distinctions and goes out of the way to appear as unique and different from others, it is difficult or well-nigh impossible to have a deep understanding of others’ wisdom.

Source - Prabuddha Bharata editorial Sept 2016

The Sound Of Silence

As we live and work in the world of noise, we eventually become inured to it to such an extent that we don’t even hear it anymore. Loudspeakers blare from walls everywhere and various gadgets force artificial sound into our ears and brains. We eventually get to such a state that we feel that every bit of silence must be eliminated in favour of audibility. Shrill or mechanical noise can damage the hearing and probably fill one’s head up with clutter. Over the millennia humans seem to have evolved the ability to tune out natural sounds, they resonate on a level that doesn’t disturb our brains. Amplified sound has not yet been assimilated in quite the same way. Perhaps we always had this tendency to eliminate space and destroy stillness. Maybe that is why the Vedas are chanted in a steady sort of drone that fills the senses and calms them without stridency.

When not listening to living voices chanting the scriptures, then silence is truly golden. Sri Ramana Maharshi was well known for teaching in silence and he spent many hours a day just sitting in complete quiet. That is when we can absorb the message he has for us, when we allow calmness to rule over clamour and when our inner selves can be receptive to our inner voice.

One of the most precious things the ashram has to offer is silence. We should learn to be grateful for this and realise its true worth and not seek to obliterate it in favour of any type of sound, no matter how appealing. This is not to say that music and singing hymns of praise are not welcome. They are, very much so. However they should punctuate the silence and not overwhelm it. Silence is a treasure we must learn to value before we lose it completely through indifference. 

Source - The Mountain Path afterword July 2003