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The Efficacy of Silence: Finding the Soul

Updated on August 20, 2019
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Eastern & Western religious philosophy is one of my areas of interest about which I write essays exploring the nature of reality and being.

Paramahansa Yogananda

"The Last Smile"
"The Last Smile" | Source


The great guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, said, “God is the mirror of silence in which all creation is reflected."

First Requirement for Meditation

One of the first instructions for meditation is to find a place where you can experience silence, a place free from noise. And if you cannot find such a noiseless environment, you must mentally shut out the noise and refuse to let it distract you from your journey inward.

Complete silence is impossible to find in this world ruled by maya. But it is helpful to filter out as much sound as possible when we want to engage in deep concentration leading to meditation. The key is practice; the more we practice strengthened by our deep yearning for attunement, the closer we can approach silence.

Western Attitude Sees Silence as Negative

Many people in Western culture think that silence is a negative quality. They are so accustomed to having conversation, background music, traffic noise, and the sounds of other people moving nearby, that they become unsettled if they are thrust into a quiet situation. For example, a city dweller visiting the country suddenly becomes aware that all he hears is birds and exclaims, “the silence is deafening,” and then loneliness sets in because he has associated constant noise and motion around him with congeniality with others.

Of course, what actually happens is that constant sound serves as a distraction from the inner self, and being a stranger to the inner self makes one uneasy if suddenly forced by silence and stillness to confront it. But the very purpose of seeking silence is to aid one in attuning with the inner self. Unless one has become aware that stillness, solitude, and silence are truly necessary for spiritual advancement, these qualities seem frightening and unrewarding. When one sits to meditate, it seems that one is doing nothing.

Paramahansa Yogananda's Teachings Offer Methods

And that is why Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings are so vital. They offer things to do; actual physical motion that ultimately leads to stillness and silence. Expecting an active body and mind to simply stop all activity is unrealistic. But through the great guru’s teachings, we learn the importance of stillness and silence, and we are given exercises that actually help us experience the journey leading from activity and noise to stillness and silence.

The great guru dramatizes the importance of silence in the beautiful poem/affirmation titled “Meditation on Silence” in Metaphysical Meditations:

My silence, like an expanding sphere, spreads everywhere.

My silence spreads like a radio song, above, beneath, left and right, within and without.

My silence spreads like a wildfire of bliss; the dark thickets of sorrow and the tall oaks of pride are all burning up

My silence, like the ether, passes through everything, carrying the songs of earth, atoms, and stars into the halls of His infinite mansion.

This poem demonstrates the efficacy of silence; in addition to serving as an affirmation, it also instructs us on the very purpose of silence: our silence does not simply stand like an empty chamber; it “spreads everywhere.” This knowledge helps the mind know that our consciousness through our silence behaves like vibrations in the atmosphere spreading “like a radio song, above, beneath, left and right, within and without.”

The great guru has told us that we are already united with Spirit, who is unbounded, His being existing everywhere at all times. Through our silence we come to realize our oneness with the ever “expanding sphere.”

Kriya Yoga Helps Burn Karma

The wonderful comparison of our silence to a “wildfire of bliss” is most instructive and satisfying as we find out that the negative qualities of sorrow and pride are dissolved through this blessed silence we possess. Contacting our silence burns up the dark qualities that keep us from Spirit. This reminds us of the great guru’s likening Kriya yoga to a fire that burns up the seeds of past bad karma.

Then we learn that our silence is like the ether which “passes through everything”—that substance that carries every vibration of creation. The affirmation teaches us and continues to remind us that our silence is a vehicle leading us to our sacred goal, “into the halls of His infinite mansion.” The metaphor of the “mansion” is the perfect place to end the journey—our home in Spirit.

Guided Meditation on Peace - SRF

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes


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