Previous | Next >
Note: For the complete lessons,
with additions, see the AYP
Easy Lessons for Ecstatic Living Books.
Lesson 157 - Q&A What is inner silence?
Date: Wed Apr 7, 2004 6:44pm
New Members: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
Q: Inner silence has been mentioned many times in these lessons, and the words seem
simple, but I'd like to clarify what we're talking about. I believe it was Krishnamurti
who talked about jumping into the space between mental words. Is that what inner silence
means in the context of these lessons--that space with no auditory content that I can
extend for a while before the mind manages to start burbling again?
I have also noticed that I frequently start to have vivid mental images during samyama
practice. No auditory to disrupt the silence, but clear, dream-quality images. I suspect
it means that I'm falling asleep during sadhana, but therein lies another question. Is
meditation and samyama performed teetering on the edge between deep relaxation and sleep?
Or has mind turned off from the path of sleep and headed in a different direction?
A: Inner silence is at the heart of yoga. Without it, there can be no yoga. In the second
lesson we discussed how yoga is the joining of the subject (observer) and the object
(observed). The object is not so hard to find. It is everything we perceive in our heart
and mind, and out through our senses. The object is everywhere. And so too is the subject.
But the subject is not always so obvious. The subject is the inner silence we have been
talking about here so often.
What is inner silence? It has many names in the traditions: sat-chit-ananda, the Self, the
witness, unconditioned awareness, the void, emptiness, Father God, Shiva, samadhi, Tao,
and so on... In the lessons we often call it pure bliss consciousness. So many names for
what amounts to nothingness. But the nothingness is alive. It is aware. It is everywhere.
And it is somehow blissful within itself. It is the "I" in you and me that
remains constant. It is the universal "I" that expresses as all that we see, yet
remains mostly hidden within, except to those who have cultivated Self-awareness through
yoga. Success in that cultivation brings a state of freedom from the ups and downs of this
world, even as we continue to be involved in our everyday activities.
Yoga is about revealing our "I," experiencing it in its native unconditioned
state. Yoga is for answering the question "Who am I?" and consciously becoming
it. Our nervous system has the ability to give us that experience, and more. This is why
the human nervous system is called the "temple of God."
With direct experience through practices we can go from the philosophy/theory of inner
silence to the reality of it. The leap from theory to reality is found in the ways that
our nervous system manifests different forms of awareness. The nervous system operates in
modes that we can identify as different states of consciousness. There are three states of
consciousness we all know well:
1. Waking state -- what we experience in our daily activity.
2. Dreaming state -- what we sometimes experience in sleep.
3. Deep dreamless sleep state -- what we don't experience much, but
we were somewhere.
Inner silence is a state distinctly different from these three. We know it in our deep
meditation as blissful awareness without any objects. Or it can be mixed with objects too,
like thoughts, feelings, or whatever. But in its pristine state, it is without objects. So
in yoga it gets its own number as a unique state of consciousness:
4. Inner silence -- it is all those descriptive words and definitions mentioned already.
In yoga it is sometimes called simply "Turiya," which means "the fourth
state" in sanskrit.
The difference between inner silence and the other three states of consciousness is that
inner silence is unchanging and can be cultivated in the nervous system as an unending
presence superimposed under, in, and through the other three states of consciousness.
Those who have meditated for some time find this to be the case. It starts as some inner
peace and an awareness of a silent quality coexisting with and within the objects of our
perception. This happens with external observations through the senses, and with our
thoughts and feelings too. We see them as the objects that they are, occurring external to
our unconditioned inner silent awareness. With daily yoga practices, inner silence grows
and becomes the the movie screen upon which all our experiences are projected. We become
the movie screen -- the infinite movie screen of life.
Is inner silence "the space between mental words" (thoughts)? Yes, it is. It
is the gap we sometimes experience as we pass from one thought to another, and from one
state of consciousness to another. When the music stops for an instant, we are left with
inner silence, our Self. For the yogi and yogini, inner silence is also experienced behind
and within the thoughts, and within all of life. So, when we let go into inner silence
during samyama, there may be no mental activity, or there may be some. If we are letting
go, our attention will be in inner silence, assuming we have cultivated some in deep
meditation beforehand. Samyama and enlightenment (first stage and beyond) depend on innate
inner silence that will be there whether the mind is "burbling" or not. It also
comes up in dreaming state and deep sleep -- that's 24/7 inner silence. Once we have that
rising, we are becoming ready for serious yoga, union of the subject and the object, and
that is the union of the divine poles within us leading to the unity condition where all
is experienced as a divine flow of the One.
So, the reason why be begin with meditation in these lessons is to cultivate inner silence
first, the prerequisite for all the rest that happens in yoga. Once we have that coming
up, it is possible to open many doors. When Shiva (inner silence) is there, then arousing
and fostering ecstatic union with Kundalini/Shakti becomes possible, and a joyous
experience rather than a traumatic one. It is the natural next step. So after meditation
is established, that is what we do here in the lessons -- awaken Kundalini and get down to
the business of joining the subject and the object. That's yoga.
As for falling asleep in samyama, meditation, etc., from the above you can see it is not
quite the same as crossing from one state (inner silence) to another state (like sleep).
It is not either-or in practices. We can be in both at the same time, which is often the
case during meditation especially. That is why we count time we are "lost" in
thoughts or no thoughts in meditation as practice time. The purification in the nervous
system is going on in these conditions. If we drift off in samyama, we just easily pick up
with the sutras where we left off. In that case, we have gone from the sutra off into some
blend of inner silence and the subtle flavor of the sutra. When we realize that has
happened, we just easily continue from where we left off. The time for getting through
samyama can be stretched out a bit if we lose track like that. If something like sleep
keeps overcoming us in a particular samyama session, we can just call it done and lie down
and rest. This is good samyama also. It can happen if a lot of obstructions are being
released. Inner silence is being cultivated throughout the whole procedure, so, again, it
is not one state of consciousness or the other. It is rising inner silence with whatever
else is going on.
Keep in mind that all of this we are talking about is not on the level of the curious
mind, the intellect. Only the theory has to do with intellect. The practices are not for
promoting theory. Daily advanced yoga practices are for purifying and opening our nervous
system in ways that are neurological and biological a dramatic expansion of the
functioning of our nervous system. The experiences of ecstatic bliss that come up are very
real ultimately as real as the most intimate lovemaking we can imagine, and it is
all going on inside. So, cultivating inner silence has far-reaching implications in our
The guru is in you.
For detailed instructions on deep meditation, see the
AYP Deep Meditation book.
For detailed instructions on samyama
practice, see the
AYP Samyama book.
< Previous | Next >