Silence and Solitude


There are so many noises all around us that we simply get used to them. For example people living near the railway stations no longer hear the trains. They get desensitized. In one of his lekhs, Bauji gives us an example of how tanners get used to the pungent smell of leather in their homes. An outsider cannot imagine staying in such an environment, but for them it becomes the norm. Civilization is noisy. In the city, sound bombards our ears. We have automobile noises, computers humming, barking  dogs, hammers pounding, music throbbing, and many other such noises. All the noise can be irritating. It can interfere with concentration and impede communication. But we adapt to it. After a while, the loudness becomes background and it isn’t noticeable. Most of us are constantly surrounded by noise. In fact some find it difficult to remain in a house alone without having either the television or radio on. Even while driving the MP3 player blasts out our favourite playlists. We have trouble “doing nothing” perhaps because for some of us, silence is rather frightening. While there is absolutely nothing ‘wrong’ with listening to music or watching TV, there is another issue that needs attention.
Why is it that we need to distract ourselves constantly?

Could it be that in an effort to fill an infinite void in our hearts we attempt to fill it with noise, people, busy-ness, possessions, and other finite things. Silence steals away the distractions of life which anesthetize us from the feeling that our lives are still empty. We are addicted to company. Notice also the many ways we work to fill the space around us.
Silence should not be uncomfortable. Yet many of us avoid it like the plague. The reason might be that silence offers an opportunity to examine the inner self, something many people simply don’t feel comfortable doing. We fear being alone. We fear solitude.
There is an important distinction between solitude and loneliness, though the two terms are often used interchangeably. While loneliness is marked by a sense of isolation, solitude on the other hand, is a state of being alone without being lonely and can lead to self-awareness (Hara Estroff Marano).
Solitude is the state of engagement with oneself.
Solitude restores body and mind.
Solitude is desirable, a state of being alone where you provide yourself wonderful and sufficient company.

Silence is a source of great strength.
Lao Tsu


 In a hyper-connected culture, pausing to gather our thoughts is more necessary than ever. Some solitude, ironically, can help strengthen bonds with others as well as rekindle curiosity and interest in the world.

So two questions arise – what is and how do we cultivate silence and solitude?

Solitude is the practice of being absent from other people and other things so that you can be present with God. Silence is the practice of quieting every voice, including your own inner and outer voices. Silence means being still so that we can hear the voice that searches our hearts and minds. Silence also means excusing ourselves from the voices of others. To do this we must develop habits of being unavailable to the voices all around us so we can learn to hear the Divine Voice. Guru jee advices us  over and over again about remaining detached – “alipt” or Ailpqu
As one progresses on the path, one seeks silence more and more. A quiet mind enables us to vibrate at a subtler frequency.

“Be still, and know that I am God”
(Psalm 46:10)

“We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness.
God is the friend of silence.
See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence;
see the stars, the moon and the sun,
how they move in silence…
We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
Mother Theresa

Would you then agree that if we are to develop a personal relationship with our Guru then there must be time spent in solitude?
Well, how do you do it? How does a person go about putting these practices into practice?
Gurbani guides us in the following way:

Solitude and silence require time, effort and space to begin with. You have to consciously desire it and then make time for it. It might be helpful ;

-to create a regular, non-negotiable place in your schedule that is solely for the purpose of being alone and still before God – Simran. Focus your attention on seeking God’s presence when ever you can -the quiet morning moments before you get out of bed or perhaps in moments when you see a beautiful blue sky or a grey sky or some majestic mountains.
-Carve out three or four days where you can be completely alone.
– If you have large blocks of time where you are alone (at home, in the car), leave the television, radio, etc., off and focus your thoughts on Gurbani and in prayer.
When you develop a habit of solitude and silence, you will be able to take them with you wherever you go-especially in the hectic places of your life.

This silence is right here in you, every single moment of your life

In silence, life slows down of its own accord. You begin to experience the beauty and joy of life more intensely. Cultivating this serenity brings a deeper appreciation of your own life and the world around you as you begin to truly observe what is happening and as your body learns to relax and function naturally without the blockage that stress and tension bring.

For me, solitude is about nurturing the relationship with myself, loving myself enough to prioritize time for me. Bauji tells us over and over again to become introverts ( Transformation of Egoistic Conciousness) As an aspiring introvert, solitude is as necessary for me as breathing. A dear friend once reminded me of the following:

Silences make the real conversations between friends.
Not the saying but the never needing to say is what counts
Margaret Lee Runbeck

I am still aspiring for the time when I can truly embrace silence and listen to the call of – Chup kar jao – Chup kar jao. Right now it is a work in progress.

I recall clearly how once when I was sitting in front of Bauji, he looked directly at me as he finished giving a discourse, and asked “Do you know what is secret and sacred? I was taken aback momentarily. He continued, “Do you know how to spell it?’ and then without waiting for an answer he went on to spell it himself – emphasizing each letter as if he was engraining it in us. “S- E -C -R -E T” – secret, and “S-A-C-R -E-D” – sacred.

With social networking making it easy for us to share our every moment, even what is supposed to be sacred and secret sadly gets announced.

“…only when words and thoughts stop and leave us in a silent receptive listening attitude,only then will the Presence of God fill us up…”
Joel Goldsmith (Thunder of Silence)

ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ  ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ   

With Much Love


One thought on “Silence and Solitude

  1. My daughter (Nikki) gave me your blog. You express wonderfully on silence, I admire it. Your blog is very good. Dhan Guru Nanak
    Ajit Bedi

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