Q: Tell us about Silence.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are three levels of silence:
One is not saying anything. This is what we usually call silence. People understand silence as not talking, not gesturing, and not doing anything.
There is another level of silence which is one step further. It is when our mind is not interested in the things around it, but is just focused inward. You are not interested in seeing, talking or listening to anything.
What happens when you see? You’re taking something in. When you’re listening, you’re taking something in. When you’re tasting, and touching, you are talking something in. All our five senses are trained to take something in. This is all an activity. Silence is disinterestedness in activity.
This does not mean that you shouldn’t eat food. Eat food, but do not feel like, this food is tasty, this food is not tasty. Eat food but your mind must not be involved. The mind not getting involved in any of the five senses brings a certain amount of quietness inside you and this is the second type of silence. It is an inward journey of the mind. Silence is disinterestedness in activity.
The mind not getting involved in any of the five senses brings a certain amount of quietness inside you. It is an inward journey of the mind.
The third degree of silence is, total oneness, total satisfaction. There is no need of anything, total contentment. It is when all your energies, the thoughts, the mind, which is scattered all over the place comes back to its source.
In some deep meditation you might have had the glimpse of that total stillness of the mind. And this stillness can be there even when you are active.
Now you might think, ‘Why bother about meditation when sleep is good enough?’ That is because when you are sleeping, even though your mind is not engaged in activity, there is another type of physical activity which is even more during sleep. When you’re sleeping your body is rejuvenating, it is growing, cells are multiplying; there is a lot of physical activity in the body. In fact, this sort of physical activity is much more in sleep than in the waking state.
In meditation, the reverse happens, the physical activity is low in the body. In sleep, the metabolism is high, but in meditation the metabolism comes down. So, the body also calms down and the mind also calms down during meditation.
Then what happens? The intelligence awakens. This is the result of meditation. That is why you become brighter and sharper (with the practice of meditation) because it rejuvenates the body and mind at the same time and so you feel energetic.