Silence liberates!

Sri Chinmoy tells a story about a pious man who studies the scriptures devotedly, and likes to discuss philosophy with a scholar who comes to visit him. They earnestly discuss the path to spiritual liberation, but deep in his heart, the man knows this endless talk is not bringing him any closer to attaining his goal. Now, it happens that the man has a little caged bird in his room, and he likes to hear it sing. But one morning he notices the bird is not singing at all, it has fallen completely silent. He speaks to the bird, tries to coax it, but it makes not a sound. Eventually the man opens the cage door and the bird, in an instant, escapes, flies out of the cage, through the open window of the room, and soars into the infinite freedom of the sky.

The bird taught his master an important spiritual lesson. Silence liberates!

We can talk endlessly, argue, discuss, debate. But the real truth of things, we discover in silence. Eventually we have to hush the mind and its chatter, discover that vastness in our hearts and soar into it.

That image of the bird in flight, going beyond the mundane, is at the heart of one of Sri Chinmoy's devotional songs:

Bird of my heart,
Fly on, fly on.
Look not behind.
What the world offers
Is meaningless, useless
And utterly false.
Bird of my heart,
Fly on.

And it recurs in one of his simple, beautiful, mantric poems:

My Lord, a tiny bird
Claims the vast sky.
Similarly the finite in me
Longs to claim
Your Infinite Absolute.

Silence liberates.

In Buddha's Flower Sermon, he came to address a large gathering and his lecture consisted of holding up a flower! One of his followers, Maha Kashapa, responded by smiling, and Buddha said in that moment the disciple had received everything. The teaching is not conveyed in words, he said, but in silence.

Your mind has a flood of questions. There is but one teacher who can answer them. Who is the teacher? Your silence-loving heart.

This 'silence-loving heart' is receptivity itself. It is our capacity to be still, be open, and simply listen. The mind has all the questions. The heart has, and is, the answer.

by Alan Spence. Alan Spence is a writer and poet, born in Glasgow and currently writer-in-residence at Aberdeen University. He writes novels, short stories, plays and poetry. His first collection of short stories It's Colours They are Fine was published in 1977 and his most recent novel is Seasons of the Heart. He runs the Hindu-inspired Chinmoy Meditation Centre in Edinburgh

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