Silence, Revisited

I find myself right now in the middle of some personal turbulence and I started reading some of my old blog posts to revisit my state of mind from a few years back. One post stood out and I am posting it here. It was originally called silence.

There are always some basic principles at work in any domain. In case of music, there are some basic chords, in case of programming, there are some basic constructs (LISP is a wonderful example of this). The better you understand these basic constructs, the more progress you make. Often times, what you need is not a technique but revisiting fundamentals with more real world experience to understand them better and improve your craft. A lot of people enter programming to get a job done. They spend the first few years hacking things together and learning on the fly. In pursuit of excellence, some people start looking for these fundamentals and start finding texts like SICP. I have come to realize that life is no different. You get into this world and start running with it and then after a while you get curious about what’s going on. What are these emotions, what is stress, what is joy. What is this liberation that people talk about? That leads some people to the path of spirituality (or self exploration). Like programming, there are many texts and schools of thought but they all essentially point to the same ideas. As you peel layers you find that something vast yet simple at work. However unlike mathematics or physics, we still don’t have a solid vocabulary for describing it (and probably we will never have one). So unlike programming, people can only give you pointers to it and it’s for you to explore and find it. Meditation is a good tool for starting the exploration. In my journey so far, I have found that silence is a great way to describe the sub-stratum. In your happiest moments and in your saddest ones, you experience a silence. If you go far our on a trip, you experience silence. Before everything, there is a silence. Life is like a beautiful painting drawn on the canvas of silence and stillness. It’s what stays with you in your loneliest moments and in your most public moments. Silence is divine but you need to break it to feel it sometimes. Paintings, poems and music break the silence in beautiful ways and hence have such a universal appeal.

One of the most un-assuming teachers of our times, Papaji had only one teaching — “Keep Quiet” (I have embedded a video below). All the answers you need, all the strength and compassion that you want, you’ll find when you rest in the silence past all the noise of your life. That’s why we get re-energizing glimpses of the infinite when we are in a state of flow, whether we reach it through meditation, programming or endurance training — we find them in moments where we have shut off all noise of our existence. You can seek it by reciting the lord’s name or sitting quietly looking at a river or sitting quietly programming. But it’s there — you just need do discover it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMC1RLma7tw