John Martin Sahajananda

To write something on silence or to speak about silence is a contradiction. The moment we speak about silence and write about silence, silence will disappear. Silence is not an object. It is not something we can acquire and possess. Silence is. It is like the sun radiating its light. We can only enter into its presence and allow it to transform our life. So I do not wish to say anything about silence but only propose how we can enter into silence and allow it to transform our lives and to manifest in our lives.

Silence is the nature of our true self or God and it is all pervading. Its nature is to unfold. If our minds stop their continuous chattering we can listen to it. The noise of our minds can come from different sources. It can come from the desires that are born from our ignorance and sense of incompleteness. It also can come from our unfulfilled desires and emotional wounds.  Basically it is the movement of ignorance, desire and unfulfillment. This movement creates objects of desires and their knowledge.   This knowledge creates ways to obtain the objects of our desires; these ways create efforts; these efforts create psychological time; and this time creates suffering. When this movement of ignorance and desire come to an end then we open the door to silence. In this silence we give birth to wisdom, fullness, freedom and Love. Our life becomes a life of unfolding.  Silence is the language of the sages. All the words that come from them are only an invitation to silence.

All spiritual traditions tell us that silencing our desires or ego is the way through which we enter into silence and encounter the Truth or Divine or the Source of our life. We need to distinguish two types of desire: desires that come from our fullness and the desires that come from our incompleteness. When we say silencing our desires we mean the desires that come from our incompleteness.

The Isa Upanishad of the Vedic tradition says that the whole universe is permeated by the divine intelligence; renounce and enjoy.  It means that God is everywhere; and everything and everyone live in God and have their foundation in God. It also means that in the ultimate state everything and everyone is one with God. It is advaita-non-duality. But we live in ignorance. This ignorance produces desires (against our human dignity) which take human consciousness away from this unity. These desires produce psychological time which in turn produces suffering. Hinduism and Buddhism call this movement ‘samsara’, birth and death. Moksa or liberation is freedom from samsara. The great Indian sage Jiddu Krishnamurthy said: time is suffering. The Upanishad sage is inviting human beings to renounce ignorance (which is to renounce desire, to renounce psychological time, suffering) that there are outside God or separate from God and discover the essential unity-non-duality. Then the life in the world will be a life of joy. If human beings live their lives from this unity then actions (karma-reincarnation) do not bind them. They can live their life without any fear of losing anything or any greediness for reward. Buddha spoke of desire being the cause of suffering and advocated to stop the movement of desire which opens one to Freedom, Nirvana, Emptiness and Wisdom.

                Jesus  Christ said ‘the kingdom of God is at hand, repent’. The kingdom of is the universal and the indwelling presence of God. It is the experience of oneness with God in which a person says ‘God and I are one’. It is transforming our life into life of God, our actions into actions of God; our ordinary life into extraordinary life; our secular life into sacred life and our normal actions into sacred rituals. Repentance is renouncing our ignorance that we are outside God or separate from God and discovering our unity with God. It is breaking barriers between the ordinary and extraordinary, spiritual and secular. It is discovering unity between God and creation: non-duality. It is the end of psychological time. In the gospel of Mark, Jesus began his ministry with the words: ‘the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent’. It means that the time has come to an end[1]. Ignorance has come to an end or desire has come to an end. The kingdom of God is here and now.  Repentance is the way Jesus proposed to enter this kingdom. The greatest sage of Yoga in India, Pathanjali said: yoga is stopping or relaxing the moment of the mind (yoga citta vritti nirodah). Yoga here means spiritual practice. The purpose of all spiritual practices is to stop the movement of the mind. The movement of the mind is the movement of desire, the movement of psychological time, the movement of the past entering into the present and going into the future. This is the movement of the ego separated from our true self. This movement comes from our emptiness and causes suffering. In this movement ‘present’ is not free but at the service of ‘the past’. The past is using the present to continue in the future. This movement has to be stopped.   The cessation of this movement opens one to Samadhi (sama= equal, adhi= beginning), which literally means to be one with the beginning, which is the foundation of our being. This foundation can be described as God. There are two aspects to this yoga: viyoga and samyoga.  Viyoga is to stop the movement of the mind (desire) and samyoga is to unite with the eternal. Repentance is to stop the movement of ego (viyoga) and discovering our unity (samyoga) with God. Repentance is the yoga (spiritual path) that Jesus proposed.

We cannot describe what silence is. We can only say what silence is not. Silence is the absence of this movement of desire, the movement of ego, the movement of effort, and the movement of knowledge and the psychological time. In this silence is born wisdom, fullness, freedom, unity, peace and love. This silence manifests eternity. The present becomes free from the past and the future and manifests eternity. The purpose of our human existence is to live in eternity. It is to manifest eternity in time and space. It is to live in the eternal present. It is the life of unfolding as opposed to the life of becoming, which involves psychological time. It is the life of the kingdom of God. The book of Genesis describes this life as the life in the Garden of Eden. In the Garden of Eden humanity was naked, without any ego, without any desire and without any movement of becoming and psychological time. They were living in inner silence. Silence was their natural state. They were unfolding their life. Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the evening which was to live in the universal and indwelling presence of God. There was no sense of sin or guilt, good and evil. But it was an unconscious bliss. They had the desire to become conscious of this bliss and harmony. This desire, even though a good desire and justified, created psychological time, and that time put them outside the Garden of Eden and thus into suffering. Adam had to suffer, Eve had to suffer, the serpent had to suffer and the whole of creation had to suffer. The original harmony was disturbed. Humanity has to go back into its original state, into the state of freedom from desire and without psychological suffering. Silence is the absence of this desire that comes from our emptiness or incompleteness. Desires that come from fullness do not cause suffering because they come for the welfare of the whole of humanity and of creation. The state of silence is like a virgin womb which can bring forth new life. A pregnant woman (mind) cannot conceive a new baby until she becomes virgin in the sense that her womb becomes empty. Our minds are continuously busy or active. They are pregnant and this pregnancy never comes to its logical end or fulfillment.  There is no place for silence. Silence can even frighten some people. It is very symbolic that Mary had no place in the homes to deliver her baby. She had place only in the manger. In the life of silence we never become pregnant. The conception and birth take place at the same time. There is no time process because it is the movement of eternity. It is the actualization of our inner potentialities or the unfolding of our fullness. The book of Genesis calls it: to be fruitful and multiply.

                I would like to present three archetypal persons (from the biblical tradition) who represent this discontinuity of the movement of desire and opening to silence. They are: Abraham, Mary and Jesus.

Abraham: Abraham had no children and he did not want to die without children. He wanted a son who can continue his lineage. God gave him a son, Isaac, and Abraham was very happy. But God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son. It would have been very difficult for Abraham. Whenever I read that story I always felt that God was very cruel to Abraham. But as I meditated upon it I realized that it was Abraham who was cruel. He wanted Isaac only for his continuity. It meant that Isaac had no life of his own but was born only to be the continuity of Abraham. So God told Abraham that Isaac was not for his continuity but for God, which meant for eternity. It meant that Isaac was the unique manifestation of God and he could not be used for continuity, which meant taking away his life. So God was asking Abraham to give back life to Isaac, which meant that Abraham must be willing to die without his psychological future, without psychological continuity. Abraham thought that he had to sacrifice Isaac physically. The problem was not physical Isaac but psychological Isaac of Abraham which was his desire for continuity. So when Abraham was ready to die without his future (his willingness to kill Isaac) Isaac got back his life. Now Abraham lived for eternity and chose Isaac also for eternity. It meant that Abraham, by dying to his future, gave life to Isaac. Abraham stopped the movement of desire, movement of time, movement of continuity and entered into inner silence. In this inner silence miracle happened: the birth of eternity.  If we take this into wider circle, Abraham represents past, Isaac represents present.  With its desire past (Abraham) was using present (Isaac) in order to go to future. It means that past is killing present and also future.  Present and future are just vehicles for past to continue. If past wants to give life to present and future then it has to die. It is only by dying to its continuity that past can give life to present and future.  When the psychological movement of the past comes to an end then the real silence dawns and the birth of freedom, fullness and eternity take place.

Mary: In Christianity we have the episode of virgin birth: Virgin Mary giving birth to the Child of God. Virginity is not limited only to Physical virginity but also spiritual virginity. Spiritually a virgin is one who discontinues the God of history and gives birth to the God of eternity. Truth or God has two aspects: historical and eternal. When Moses asked God his name, God first said: I am who I am.  It was difficult for Moses to relate with this aspect of God. So God told him that he was the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob. This was the historical aspect of God. Moses was able to relate with the God of his ancestors. But the God of history desires continuity; divides human beings and demands loyalty. Human beings will not have real freedom and free will. They just give continuity to the past. The present and the future are only vehicles for the past to continue. This God is like Abraham who wants children for his continuity and not for eternity. In order to give birth to the God of eternity God needs a virgin who can discontinue the God of history and can give birth to the God of eternity. In order to give life and freedom to humanity the God of history has to die to his/ her continuity. God of history is willing to die, like Abraham, but human beings do not allow that. They reduce God into the God of history and want to give continuity to that God. People think that, by doing this, they are doing a great service to their God.This God becomes the God of authority who demands the submission of human will and intellect. He or she seems to take away human freedom. But this God is the projection of human minds or creation of human minds.  In the evolution of human consciousness human beings feel that this God is oppressive and want to get rid of this God and declare the ‘death of God’. Silence is the death (end) of God of history and birth of God of eternity. It is the death of God of authority and the birth of God of freedom. It is the death of becoming and the birth of unfolding. It is the death of psychological time and the birth of eternity.

God desires that human beings be free from this God of history and authority. Virgin Mary was chosen by God to discontinue the God of history, (the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob) and give birth to God of ‘I am who I am’. This child, born of a virgin, is not identified with the past but with eternity. This child is not called son of Mary or Joseph, but the Child of God. Wisdom is like a child. It is unconditioned. It never grows old. It is always now. It is the symbol of eternity. Joseph and Mary kneel down in front of this child and say: this child is not our child but God’s Child. This child is not for our continuity but eternity. They were sacrificing their desire for continuity and choosing their child for eternity, just as Abraham did. They became virgin parents just as Abraham was. The three wise men that came to worship the child Jesus were the symbol of historical truth, symbol of knowledge. It is a beautiful scene where the historical truth falls at the feet of eternal truth; knowledge at the feet of wisdom; past falling at the feet of eternal present; old people kneeling down at the presence of a child and parents worshipping their own child. It means that past gives life to present by renouncing its continuity. The ‘present’ is for the sake of the present and not for the sake of past or future. Christmas is the birth of this eternity. It was possible because of the cooperation of a virgin.  Virgin birth happens at each moment of our life.  Each moment of our life is eternity. Each moment of our life is Christmas.

 But King Herod was different. He wanted children for his continuity. He was like Abraham before his sacrifice. He was considered to be a murder of innocent children. To choose children for the continuity of physical parents or spiritual parents (religions) is to kill them. Herod took innocent life. He was violent. Herod is a symbol of desires that come from our incompleteness.  These desires create inner violence and consequently create a world of violence. Before Herod, Eve also chose the path of desire, the path of violence and suffering. Virgin Mary is the symbol of desire that comes from fullness. She does not desire continuity. She gives life to her children. She is peaceful and brings peace in the world. At the birth of her child angels will appear and sing ‘glory to God in the highest and peace to the people of good will on the earth’. She gives birth to the glory of God and peace on the earth.

Jesus Christ: Jesus Christ made the statement: I am the way, the truth and the life: no one comes to the Father but through me’. Only a person who lives in inner silence and in the eternal present can make this statement. This statement has two aspects: freedom from past and freedom to future. To say ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ means that I am completely free from past.  I do not follow anyone from the past. I am not giving any continuity to past. I am an original and creative person. I decide each moment of my life what to do and what not to do. I am unfolding my life. The kingdom of God is here and now. It also means that ‘I do not want to continue in future. I want future to be free from me and say like me ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’. ‘I live for eternity and I want everyone to live for eternity and not for continuity’. Jesus said, ‘it is written in your law but I say unto you’. This is also the statement of a person who lives in the eternal present. To live in the eternal present means to live in the realm of originality and creativity. In the realm of originality and creativity no one enters into the traces left by others and no one leaves the traces for others to follow. It is the pathless land. Probably this is what Krishnamurthy meant when he said that ‘the truth is a pathless land’. In that land everyone lives an original and creative life. There is no master and no disciple. Everyone lives for eternity and not for continuity. Jesus said, ‘I no longer call you my disciples but call you my friends’. To live for continuity is to live a mechanical life, to live a second hand human existence. To desire continuity is to kill future.  Jesus entered into this realm of silence at the moment of his baptism. Baptism was the moment in which Jesus came out of the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob and entered into the God of eternity: I am who I am’. He also realized his oneness with that God of eternity and said ‘the Father and I are one’. He said ‘that no one can come to the Father except through me’. It means that no one can come to the experience of Jesus in which he could say ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ and ‘The Father and I are one’ except by doing what he did: it is to come out of the God of history or past and enter into the God of eternity. This is the way to everyone. Jesus said: just as the Father has life in himself, he has granted the Son to have life in himself; I have come to give life and give it abundantly. To have life is to live in the eternal present. Only in the eternal present a person can have real freedom and free will.  Time is freed from all the burden of becoming. It is freed from the impossible task of reaching eternity through movement. To give life means to choose everyone for eternity and not for continuity. It is to give freedom and free will to others and not to control others. Jesus came to give life for that he had to die for his continuity.  It is by dying to our psychological continuity that we give life to others. Abraham, Mary and Jesus died to their desires and gave life to their children. In the case of Jesus he gave life to his spiritual children.

 The Upanishad sages were spiritual virgins; Buddha was a spiritual virgin and Pathanjali was a spiritual virgin; Abraham was a spiritual virgin; Mary was a spiritual virgin and Jesus was a spiritual virgin. They all stopped the movement of desire and continuity and opened the door to silence and gave birth to eternity and freedom. They became givers of life. This is the way for everyone.  Life(God) invites everyone to become a spiritual virgin. It is only by becoming spiritual virgins that we allow silence to manifest in our lives; we allow silence to unfold in our lives. To be in silence means to be in a state of spiritual virginity. In this virginal state we give birth to wisdom, eternity, unity, freedom, humility, creativity, fullness and love. By giving birth we become mothers and yet we do not lose our virginity. We do not lose our silence. We remain virgins. This is the mystery of virgin birth and virgin motherhood. This is to say that our life is not our life but God’s life. Our actions are not our actions but God’s actions. Our children are not our children but God’s children.  In the language of Jesus it is to enter into the kingdom of God. Jesus said, ’the works which I do are not my own but the Father who dwells in me does his works’.  Jesus also said that the kingdom of God is within you. We discover this kingdom of God in the cave of our hearts, in the silence of our hearts.

The Chandogya Upanishad gives a beautiful description of this inner silence and the birth of God in it.

It says:

In the center of the castle of Brahman, our own body,

There is a small shrine in the form of a lotus-flower,

And within can be found a small space. We should find who dwells there, and we should want to know him.

And if anyone asks, "Who is he who dwells in a small shrine

In the form of a lotus-flower

In the center of the castle of Brahman?

Whom should we want to find and to know?" we can answer:

The little space within the heart is as great as this vast universe.

The heavens and the earth are there, and the sun and the moon

And the stars: fire and lightning and winds are there;

And all that now is and all that is not:

For the whole universe is in Him and He dwells within our heart."

The small shrine in the form of the lotus is our virgin self, our spiritual heart. The small space is silence and in this silence dwells God. The whole of creation is in God. If God dwells in us then the whole of creation is within us. The purpose of all our spiritual practices is to help us to stop the movement of ignorance and desire.  This facilitates us to enter into our inner shrine, the cave of our hearts. In that cave we discover a small space, inner silence. In that silence we find the fulfillment of our lives. In that silence we give birth to freedom, fullness and love. That silence unfolds life. It is the process of actualizing our inner potentialities. It is the life of fruitfulness and multiplication. It is manifesting divine attributes of love and compassion in our human relationships.


[1] This can be interpreted in different ways.




Make a free website with Yola