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Swami Krishnananda in Conversation
by Swami Krishnananda
Compiled by S. Bhagyalakshmi

23. On Silence

An ashramite: They say maun, silence, increases will-power. Is it so Swamiji?

Swamiji: There are many types of silence, and all types of silence are important in one way or the other. Even high speed is silence. The roar of the Ganga at Gangotri is so great that it creates silence all around. This silence deepens the activity of the mind. The spinning top, when it spins very fast, looks as though it is only standing. Even heightened activity is silence. This is how God acts. Ramana Maharshi, who indulged in mundane activities like cutting vegetables and cooking or giving interviews to Bhaktas or praying in the act of Pradakshina of Arunachalagiri, said: “I'm not doing any work.”

God, whose work is done at an intense speed, is like the X-ray or the Gamma rays or the Beta rays—all emanating from the cosmic movements which come through interstellar space and can be called interstellar rays. The mind's eye cannot catch these very subtle waves of very high speed. In the same way, though God is here and now, we are not able to see God, for the frequency of the waves is too high for the mind to catch it. Our human eye is not of the nature of the radio, the microwave installation etc., which can catch the X-ray and the finer rays of the cosmos. Our human eye is an old and rusted instrument, and is ineffective to receive the cosmic waves of the soul and the self. The tuning has gone off, and therefore we have now become unfit for the task of seeing God, who is here and now. We are impervious to the glorious great influence of God's rays, which are ever flowing all around us as the sun's rays are bathing us. If you sit inside a cave, shutting off all the sun's rays, and say, “It is all dark,” it is all your own incapacity to realise that you have cut off the sunlight flooding the whole space around.

This cutting off is perhaps what can be called the fall of Adam and Eve. At the level of cosmic personality they were unaware of their individual personality and did not feel that they were naked. Nature does not wear clothes. Neither does man wear clothes when he is alone in the bathroom. It is only in the presence of others that you feel you must wear clothes. This is because of the consciousness of your individuality as separate from the 'other'. This consciousness is the apple, the forbidden fruit, after eating which Adam and Eve became self-conscious and were untied from the cosmic consciousness, and thus fell from heaven.

Satan, who is always in opposition to the Cosmic Reality or God, comes in the form of a snake and tempts Eve with the desire to eat the fruit. Freud says that the cunningness of desire wriggles shrewdly like the snake. You have the story in the Old Testament: God called Adam and Eve. “We cannot come before you, we are naked,” they said. “Who said so? How do you know? You ate the forbidden fruit! Go hence!” Thereafter the angels with the flaming sword prevented Adam and Eve from entering heaven. The subject-object relationship is the tree, the consciousness of the 'other' is the forbidden apple. Identification of ourselves with the structure of our individuality is the cause of our fall, which is personified in the fall of Adam and Eve from heaven.

This is the original sin separating the part from the whole. And for this you carry the cross all your life. Every one of us carries a cross, and it is on this cross that you are finally crucified. The crucifixion of Christ is a mystical representation of the fact of the abolition of the individual personality in the love of God. It is the same idea as Jnana-Yajna which, in other words, means knowledge of the Absolute, or the identity of the personality with the Absolute. The Infinitude and all-comprehensiveness of the Absolute is awe-inspiring, with which the ego is frightened because it knows that its insignificant individuality will be abolished in this vastness.

It is common experience that anything vast like the expanse of the sky or the ocean extending to the horizon frightens us; even the hugeness of the elephant frightens us. This is the nature of the Absolute, beyond the reckoning of the dimensions of the human personality. It is this frightening dimension that gives rise to the worship of anything beyond the scope of the human mind. This is the origin of popular religions of the world, and therefore they worship gods to propitiate them, to relate their individuality to the gods in a manner that the human mind can understand, in a relationship without losing its own individuality. For, we exist only for the ego, to strengthen it and maintain its personality; this is where Satan speaks and tells you: “Let the world go to the dogs. I must exist, that is what matters, no other thing.”

The silence of this ego-personality so that it dies to live—this silence is the greatest type of silence. This is rebirth, birth into a new spirit and a new dimension, birth into the universality of the spirit. Birth and death are the real problems. The problem of Arjuna, whether he must live by winning the war or die in the battle, this problem is of the physical level. “How long can I continue to live?” is the real question for the ego-personality. We live our lives precariously because we do not know what our future is. It is the same fear of the future, “What will happen if I lose my identity in God!” that prevents our seeking God earnestly. Because of this fear, we do not want to see the Creator. If we meet Him even for a while we must “die”. This we do not want. So we hide our heads from Reality like the ostrich, only out of fear. However, finally you cannot hide Reality for too long, and so we come face to face with facts. This the ego is unable to do. The ego calls Evil to its aid, “be thou my God”. Thus, finally, the result is that the world comes, red in tooth and claw, to attack the ego. Before that we should realise our position in this world of today and the other world of tomorrow, and somehow silence the ego.