Silence — A silent ‘Dawaa’

My friend Deepak Karande loved this expression Lakh ‘dukhonki ek Dawaa !’ ( One antidote for one million woes). Silence is a similar ‘Dawaa’ for many situations. Keeping quiet has helped many in tidying over difficulties in life.

There are many ways to describe silence. Silence is golden. Silence is awesome. Silence is scary.

Silence can be boring. Sometimes it is also a sign of loneliness. Or sorrow. If there is something we don’t want to talk about, we just keep quiet.

At times silence is reassuring. Silence can also be a friend.

It is a deeper form of experience in life. Silence is about rediscovering, through pausing to look at things that bring us joy. I want to share an anecdote. I have a huge problem in speaking in front of groups. I asked a well-known mentor to coach me. He had brought with him a lot of paraphernalia including video camera, recording equipment etc. I was asked to present a small piece for five minutes. Audience gave me negative feedback. The mentor asked to repeat three to four times. Always ended up with a similar outcome. The mentor pointed to me that I am not leaving enough pauses while speaking. By leaving pauses, my speaking skill improved.

Benefits of silence:

Silence is creative

Silence promotes inner and builds trust

Silence gives rest

Silence allows listening

More in this following article:

Silence is an also double-edged sword. It has different meanings in different situations.

In the corporate world, silence is a no go. You need to talk, talk and talk. A silent person is treated as inefficient in many situations. My own personal experience of being silent has landed me in difficult situations.

On some occasions, silence means acceptance. In my younger days, when the boy meets a girl for the first time for Pelli Chupulu (First looks before the marriage process), the standard question asked to the girl, “ Did you like the boy?”. Usually the girl is silent and the silence is taken as acceptance. Of course, things have changed now. Presentation and packaging are the keys now.

Adults think babies need silence. It is the other way. Babies are happy when there is a lot of sound.

A driver on an Indian road can never be silent. He should constantly sound the horn. If you would have noticed, these words are proudly painted on many trucks– Please sound horn.

Guns become silent after a ceasefire in a war. Towns become silent after a curfew.

In Europe, there are ‘silent’ coaches in trains. You are not allowed to speak or use a mobile phone.

Some people observe silence fasts. On those days, they do not talk. Similar to technology fasts. No using of gadgets on a particular day of the week including a mobile phone.

There are also places named after silence — Silent valley in Western Ghats.

There are silent films like Kamal Hassan’s Silent movie. Another movie — Silence — movie released in 2016.

Recently, I read an English translation of “Silence — In the age of Noise” by Erling Kagge. Erling Kagge is a Norwegian explorer, author and publisher. It is a transformative book which tries to explore fundamental questions of silence.

There are several resources to understand silence. I recommend to start with a book ‘Silence” by Vietnamese Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hahn.

Listen to a TED talk on danger of silence:

Yet another interesting resource.

Power of Silence by Steven Taylor

Silence is the core of meditation in Buddhist practices. The meditation practice of monks is legendary. I would also encourage to listen to the TED talk on Vipaasana meditation. The focus is on silence. In a Vipasana retreat, the participants are not expected to talk at all. If you have time, you should sign up for a Vipaasana retreat.

Read the article from Guardian on Vipaasana

There are also modern aids to make you silent quickly. I want to talk about “Life Float “– A sensory deprivation experience. My daughter suggested to try Life Float. You are asked to float in a huge tank of water loaded with two tons of Epsom salt (Magnesium sulphate) for 60 minutes. Epsom salt is supposed to be very therapeutic. No music and no light. You are deprived of all the sensory experiences. You will float into a different world. There is no life threat in any case, as you can not sink in the tank at any cost.

I shall end the blog with the following quote:

“Silence is essential. We need silence, just as much as we need air, just as much as plants need light. If our minds are crowded with words and thoughts, there is no space for us.”- Thich Nhat Hahn, Vietnamese ZEN Master.

The Moral of the story: Silence is good. But not always. Exercise with caution. Weigh the consequences. Study the impact. But in the long run, practice of silence helps !

As always, I welcome your thoughts.



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