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On Silence

July 2003 (Tape 4)

Swami Veda Bharati


We have to let it be a little freer than usual from now until the rest of the stay. Let's apply that rule. One or two people, who are completely new, if you find any difficulty, let us know. If Pandit Ananta, Pandit Drabral is not here, you can send me a note. That you're not managing it very well, shows itself in bursting of emotions, in the mind and heart. Unnecessary anger arises. It can be on almost anything, very small, which would normally not disturb you: the beds are not comfortable; the food is not what you are used to; the teachers aren't teaching well; Swami's always late, or whatever.


There is a principle about all your angers and emotions and sadnesses and depressions. I'd like you to remember that principle. That it's seldom about the object present. You think you are being angry with your husband, or with your teacher at school, or with a professor, or with your boss, or an employee, or a friend, the daughter, son, daughter-in-law, mother-in-law.

That's not true. The anger is not about that immediate person. The anger is not about that immediate situation. Anger is. That's all. In you, a conflict, in the mind, something you have not been able to resolve, from your childhood, from your youth, from the person you have been in love with who betrayed you, or with whom things did not quite work out, and unsatisfied cravings, unsatisfied desires, have remained there lodged in you. And wherever they find a hook, they jump out and they catch the object in the hook, because you are very dependent on the person you're angry with.

Anger is the worst dependence, as aversion is the worst attachment. Anger is the worst dependence and aversion is the worst attachment.

Things you're averse to, persons you're averse to, that's who you are thinking of all the time. You are not thinking of persons you love, you are thinking of the people you're averse to.

A woman comes to me, says, "Swamiji, oh my husband is so unreasonable. He says: whole day at the office, he is cursing me in his mind."

I say, "You lucky woman. He's thinking of you whole day."

And that's not meant to be a joke. You're thinking of the person whole day. It's your choice whether you want to think right, or you want to think wrong; you want to think lovingly or you want to think hatefully, but you can't stop thinking of the person, so very attached to that person. And the same thing is with your anger, sign of dependence. You're dependent on that person and you resent that dependency in you. Inside you, you're resenting that dependence.And that's where your anger is.

There are many other areas. There are some beautiful books about anger. I always recommend Marcus Aurelius, the Emperor. His "Meditations" is a very nice essay. There is one by the Dalai Lama. In the one by the Dalai Lama there is not one word on anger but the title is On Anger [ed. note: Healing Anger]. The title of the book is On Anger; there's not one word about anger. It is his translation and paraphrase of an eighth century Buddhist text, "Bodhicaryavatara", "The Way of One Who is Walking on the Path to Enlightenment," by a great Buddhist saint named, Santideva. My favorite story about Santideva is that--you know the Buddhist concept of shunya, null? It's not as simple as it's made out to be. Similarly when the Christian theologist speaks about being [ex nihilo?], out of nil, it's not quite as simple as that. In the vast texts in the Buddhist philosophy explaining that concept of original nihil--but I'll not go into that right now. For that you have to come to my Gurukulam and study for three to five years and then you'll begin to understand, who ever wants to come. So, the word shunya here, sign of zero, comes from that. So he was teaching his disciples the meaning of shunya, the meaning of null, the meaning of void, and after the discourse he said, "I will now demonstrate."

Sitting there right from in front of the disciples' eyes, he disappeared. There are two beautiful inspiring works by him, eightht century AD, Santideva, and one is Bodhicaryavatara, the descent, descent, into the person, of the way of enlightenment. In the sixth chapter of it, Dalai Lama has done a beautiful paraphrase and explanation of it and he's titled it as On Anger.

And he hasn't said a word about anger. He put a word or two here and there. Because it is not what it appears to be.

There is also a book on anger by Thich Nhat Hanh. These three you should read.

So, in these silence retreats, a lot of your unresolved emotions come up because they don't have the outlet, the expression, you have all the time. So we don't normally recommend long silence retreats for people who are naturally emotional. It doesn't work out for them. They begin to cry and they begin to jump, and they want to pick up and pack up and go away, or keep boiling inside, or what have you. If you see any signs of this in yourself, or if you see any signs of this in someone around you, bring it to our attention, because either we will force them to break the silence, or we know how to handle it, okay? Especially for those who have never done deep meditation practice, or who have never done deep silence before.

I've said enough about silence and it's healing and rejuvenating power. But if you are practicing silence for 10 days or 5 days--by the way next year's dates are between June 16-30, 2004. There's a 10-day and there's a 5-day, and better to just get it registered now so we don't have to waste postage, you know. Just look up in your calendar and organize your year accordingly.

So, this five days or ten days is for letting it seep through into our personality. So that you begin to enjoy it. When I take a few days silence I begin to feel as if I will never, ever, ever again want to speak but I don't have the luxury you have. I have to take care of the people. I've known Swamis who have not spoken a word for twenty-five years. There are, in the Western traditions, the Trappist monks, the Carmelites, the monks on the Mount Athos. You know the rules of Saint Benedict? When I read them, to me they read like paraphrases of the vows both the Swamis and the Buddhist monks take. You know our monastic orders go back 4000 years.

Buddhist orders go back 26 centuries. Rules of confession and all of that, they are common traditions. So also the practice of silence. Ten days is not anything. Forty days should be the practice. How many would like to take forty days? Wonderful. All right! That forty days I recommend at the Rishikesh ashram. In the right setting. I am proud. And I'm sure they'll be others.

This forty days is a strange tradition. Forty days: Jesus on the mountain. In the case of the Buddha, it's forty-nine days under the Bodhi tree in enlightenment. And I've talked to people from [Dyak?] and [Cortecon?] traditions of Borneo, their teachers, their spiritual leaders in their so called tribal traditions. You know what is a tribal tradition? If you can speak English, you're a nation. If you don't speak English, you're tribal.

It's like religion and myth. You know the difference between religion and myth? What I believe in is religion. What you believe in is a myth.

And so that's how it is between the nations and the tribes. If you speak French, you are a king; if you don't speak French, you are a tribal chief. And they are conditioned to thinking in those terms. So since the [Dyak? and the Cotecon? ] and the others did not speak English they are tribal people. I've spoken to their wise men, because I go to Borneo every year. We have a center in [?].

I say "What do you do?"

And they say "Oh we just go out into the forest. We eat fruits and berries and sleep under the trees for forty days."

"Forty days, hum."

The great masters of music in India, some of those you hear in these countries sometimes, they work under their masters and you may not know, they don't have music degrees from some academy, certificates hanging on the walls. They work under masters. As individuals in a Gurukulam, in the guru's family. The master feeds them. The master's wife takes care of them. And they study and they practice and then some of them have gone through what is known as a forty day [chilla?]. When for forty days, the music disciple is to do nothing but keep singing, non-stop, even if he has to hum. He may dose off, but he is not allowed to sleep.

Then you create a master.

I was living in New Delhi. New Delhi has expanded widely, from the time I was a child to now, and has taken over the villages. So some pockets of the village culture remain in the middle of that, you know. You people go to Delhi and you see all this smoke, and noise, and unruly traffic and everything. But many people do not know that it's also a holy city. And there are people who know it; they even do holy circumambulation of its sites. And any point--noisy, and smoky, and auto-fume-filled point in Delhi, from any point--I can take you to within five minutes, I can take you to a place of absolute stillness, quietude and sanctity. I wish I could just have you come for a tour of Delhi with me. Right in the middle of all that confusion and you won't know you are in a capital of a country of one billion people.

So, I was living in Delhi for some time. The water supply is very short. Sometimes the water just doesn't flow, you know, in those countries. The amount of water you people waste here! I can't. I never open the tap full, just enough, you know. So some mornings there is no water in the pipes. We used to have these village wells. You know, village wells like you used to have in Europe? Sometimes these wells used to be in the houses. They are still there in old Delhi, in the mansions, old mansions. And the beauty of those wells is its water is warm in winter and cool in summer.

So I said, "In this area we were living, in this old area, there used to be villages. There aught to be some wells."

I drove around some old wells. They had all become garbage dumps. And I said, "This can't be."

Fortunately in a country like India, anything works if it is sacred; nothing works if it is secular. (For forty days of Kumba Mela, if you have seen the video, seventy-million people in a space ten miles by ten miles. Up to twenty million taking a dip, holy dip, everyone in prayer and song.

Immaculately organized. Hygiene, hospitals, clinics, even internet, five thousand ashrams were represented.)

So I said, "There has to be some place."

So one person told me there is one holy place near here, just five minutes drive from where I'm living. Of course in Delhi, that's very natural. Five minutes drive from anywhere there's one holy place. Went in to it--simply a patch of forest. Forest of some thorny trees, about one acre, preserved, because it's sacred, nobody can cut those trees down for fuel or anything. Just behind the Old Fort that was demolished in the tenth century, just behind that. And the [?], the [gaa's?] are graves of Muslim saints. But all the Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, everybody goes to seek blessing in these holy places. There's no distinction. And I told the [gaa] of a disciple of Baba [? Fahrid?] a twelfth century great Sufi saint. It has a cave, a cave in Delhi, a meditation cave. You don't need to climb Himalayas. And you go into that cave. I have a habit, if I go to a Buddhist place, I behave as a Buddhist. If I go to a Christian place, I am a Christian.

I go to a Muslim place, I am Muslim. So I went in, and I did the [sista] the way you go in bowing in prayer, in that tradition, in the [vudharashina?]. I tell you, my forehead touches the ground in the cave the spot where the great Sufi used to sit, mystic energy flows into you. There are places like that. I had the same experience at the grave of Saint Francis of Assisi. And there are other places like that, on the earth. There are pockets of special, special power. And here was the village; there was the well. So I used to go there and bathe. You know you just have a system, you just have two poles with a little bar and a wheel and the rope goes over the wheel and the bucket is tied to it. You throw the bucket down, and you fill it up, and you pull it up, and you pour the water over yourself. There is nothing more refreshing in the open air.

And Baba [Fahrid?] the great Sufi, had done this forty day [chilla?] that's a Muslim Sufi tradition, of prayer, nonstop prayer hanging upside-down in that well. So it was not a well, it was a monastic cell. Forty days and nights. So, there is a forty-day tradition, many places all completely culturally, historically unconnected places. Forty days of Lent, forty days from [?] to Holi, the sacred periods in India.

So these days are baby stuff. Waiting for you to get ambitious. Come to the Rishikesh ashram and do a forty days. You'll see all your accumulations oozing out.

"The place is too cold; the food is horrible; the Swami doesn't pay enough attention."

I just sit there. That's the whole tradition. I sit there watch the process the person goes through; then subsides, calms down.

Then another assimilation occurs. You know, depends on what your grounding is, you know when the desert fathers went out in the desert, they had visions of Satan and the demons tempting, and testing, and frightening. The Buddha, in his last moments before enlightenment, had all the fairies and all the furies. Depends on what pictures and what visions have been filled in your heart and mind. You know that is the thing that religious people who report near death experiences, returning from dying or whatever. The Christians have seen the St. Paul or St. Peter or Jesus; the Buddhists have seen the Buddha; the Muslims have seen the Angel Gabriel [Gibral?]; and Hindus have seen Krishna and Brahma, or their own Guru.

So your visions and fantasies all come from what is stored in you. They're not coming from outside somewhere. You are the storehouse of consciousness. And you're linked to the universal mind and you pick out whatever is the image you're conditioned to picking out. And in period of Silence you go through these purges of emotions. And then below that, underneath that, there is utmost serenity, a stream, and you have to learn to go and deep, deep, deep dive into that stream. And you will come out of that, and your worldview will have changed.

Unfortunately, when you will come back into this society, your family, and your friends, and your professional colleges, they will think something abnormal has happened to you. They will take you to a psychiatrist. When my guru, Gurudeva Swami Rama put me in a cave in Gangotri for a forty days' practice, those caves are, you know when you're isolated and all the feed you receive from your world.--Now those places are gone, actually. To find real mystic caves in the Himalayas you have to really search.

Tell you a story: One day I was sitting meditating and I feel a throb here. I say ah, now my seventh chakra is opening. It's going to burst open! Just now, my skull is going to part. When I look at myself and I say hum, no, it's something coming from somewhere outside. So I opened my eyes, broke my meditation. I felt--you know these caves are all pure rock. There's hollows in the rock. Its dry inside, you can stay in the winter, the meditation caves of the yogis.

(You know these caves that the Taliban occupied? Where they demolished the world's largest Buddha [the Bamyan Buddhas in the Bamyan Valley], the huge old complex that they used?

They were actually built by the Buddhist monks. They were monastic cells, vast networks and many of them were Greek Buddhist monks. People don't know, the Taliban, the Buddha that they destroyed, was built by the Greeks. It's a whole different history. So, these cave cells are a very ancient tradition for meditation because they are dry, completely insulated and isolated.)

It's pure rock, so I thought somebody was hammering the rock over the roof of the cave--the huge rock, hammering from there, and I was getting the echo. I came out . . . there was nothing there! It was an echo from across the Ganga River where they were doing road building. I thought my seventh chakra was opening, courtesy of the roadways department of the government of India! And when I left that cave forty days later and came down to the plains. I was a householder, married person. My guru, Swami Rama, would call Mrs. Arya and Angiras would joke, "Now let me introduce you to these people, this is my daughter, Lalita, and this is your son, Angiras. Your whole world changes. And all the transient and the temporary, just vanishes. But you have to know what to do in those forty days, and teacher has to know when you're reaching a break-down point and says, "No more."

"Oh no, I'm not! I came here for forty days. I cancelled my programs! I took leave! Why are you breaking my silence?!"

You assimilate that silence. And walking, talking, eating--and if I may tell you, if you are a householder and married person, even while making love--your interior silence remains and makes you more efficient in whatever you do. It makes you steadier in whatever you do. It digs into subtleties of whatever you do. It helps you go into perfection of whatever you do. And the world's actions do not evoke a reaction from you. As the text says: "As all the rivers flowing are absorbed into the ocean, so is the mind of a yogin, that all the world may pour it's troubles into you, and the ocean remains the same." And you walk like that deep vast ocean, both of knowledge, and of love.

I want to see in my teachers that love pouring out of the voice when you teach meditation. If you teach only a technique, it is no meditation. No, only if the grace flows through you then it is meditation. Otherwise what, somebody should write the book on--you know there are all kind of how-to books? Somebody should write a book titled, "How to Smile". If you want to ensure that all the smiles should vanish from the face of the earth, write a book called How to Smile. And "How to Meditate". How! There is something that natural in you: it's your own inner self. Just taking a dip in there, remaining there. Even while you carry out your communications even more effectively, more lovingly. So, silence of meditation, silence of isolation, silence of the monastic cell, silence of the ashram, that is one aspect, but silence maintained through daily, effect and loving communication that is your personal secret.

I take two kinds of sleep. In one sleep I'm completely unaware. [Yomitro?], my Japanese disciple who was traveling with me. She was in Rishikesh and I have this thing I always need my foot massage every day. It's necessary for me. So somebody comes at eight o'clock in the morning. I'm sleeping and I wake and I have my foot massage. And sometimes I'm so deeply asleep I'll wake up later on.

I say "How come you didn't do my foot massage?"

"I did it!"

I feel my foot after waking up sometimes, if there is a trace of oil on it. I sleep that deeply. And one day she says, "Swamiji I couldn't because your ankle was crossed over like that, and I needed to lift our foot. And I couldn't lift your foot! It was so heavy, that I couldn't lift your foot."

You know? Just so relaxed.

Then my other kind of sleep, is sleeping: this level of the mind is sleeping, this level of the mind is meditating. I never come out of sleep without going through that phase. Because it is such a busy life, fifty e-mails a day. And write articles, and travel and think of my travel and financing the affairs of two ashrams, and communication and everything. I have time to meditate while I am sleeping. I've had to perfect that art; otherwise what would I teach you?

I've had to learn the art of mediating while talking to you. Do you not feel it? Because the lesser part, the surface part of the mind, speaks and it depends entirely on what depth I want to speak.

[Swami's voice lowers and becomes more resonant] And now, I go a little deeper and meditate with a little deeper layer of the mind and I speak from there.

[Swami's voice rises] I come up a little bit more, to a shallower surface, and I speak to you this way. The mind has depths, within depths, within depths. Till it reaches infinity, and you have to learn to link with that infinity.

So silencing your senses, not just your mouth. Replacing your disturbances with that interior silence. Remaining attuned with that interior presence: while working in your office, while working on your computer. In old days, when there were no computers and I wanted test whether one of my disciples, students, was making spiritual progress or not, I'd ask them take me for a drive.

Just so, "Come on. I'll let you take me for a drive."


Then we would go drive. I would watch how person changes gears. Then I would know whether you are making progress or not, that you are making spiritual progress or not. You're grinding the gears of life. And it shows. Now I put them on my computer, this carpal syndrome and god knows what and pains here and pains there because you have to work so much . . . .

It's because you people don't type with fingers, you type with shoulders. Why do you type with shoulders, like it's a nineteenth century typewriter? It's not. Even the term in the language, "Hit the key." Why hit the key? Just touch the key. Just touch the key--it will work. You don't need to hit the key. Poor key what has it done to you, you have to hit it? And that's where I see whether silence is working or not working. If you hit the key, first you cause pain to all your systems, and then a symptom, you hit other people with your words. You don't communicate.

You hit other people with your words, with your tones, with your sounds. You don't look, you throw/stare stones. Change all of that, then you have silence.

So learning to keep that silent stream flowing while operating in the world is the art of living skillfully. And you'll find that the world resists you the less. The world will not place so many obstacles in your way. The life will become easy flowing. Whatever you would suggest, people will say yes. It would not occur to them to say no to you.

"Sitting here, saying all these things, we have to operate in the world out there." And, "It's such an aggressive world, and so on, and so on, we can't survive without this and that and all the rest."

If something has been mismanaged by my bank, some check, something, this thing, that thing, I call the bank. I ask the receptionist, [softly] "Can I speak to the manager please?"

"Can I help you?"

"No, I'd like to speak to the manager, it's something important."

I don't say, [shouts] "Can I speak to the manager!"

You've already evoked a no response. You've already invoked a no response.

[Curtly,] "No, sorry, he's very busy! Why don't you send him an e-mail?"

"Look, those people at the bank don't even want to talk to the customer. I think I'm going to change my account."

Because you didn't know how to evoke the yes response.

They pick up the phone, "May I help you?"

[Very low and softly,] "Sir, I'm calling in a very angry and loud voice to protest over something." I speak like that ... and I get what I want.

And you don't get it because inside you, you have resistance. Did not Jesus say, "Resist ye not evil."? And the four Brahmaviharas, the four "frolics in God" in the Yoga Sutras, the last one, Upeksha, indifference to evil. So don't come to silence just to take a holiday from the turmoils of the world, but to assimilate, go out and let it do your work for you. And your silence will do your work for you. I assure you of that. Not if it is merely a silence of speech and words. But if it shows in your person, in your voice, in your presence, okay? Always be aware of that place within you. Walk from there. Talk from there.

I don't sing: "He walks with me. He talks with me. He tells me I am his very own."

I say: "He walks in me. He talks in me. And He tells me I am your very own." Then the joys you share as you tarry there, none other has ever known. It's available. It's not far.

So silence during speech. An interior silence in the middle of a feast. So you don't get yourself sick or extra fat from that extra piece of the pie. Interior silence. A feeling of fullness, mental, spiritual fullness will not make you to fill your mental emptiness by filling a cavity in the body. If you have an interior fullness, then you will not use exterior objects to feel a sense of fullness by filling a cavity of your body with extra pieces of the pie. Otherwise you can take all kinds of operations, and you can pop all kinds of pills, and you can go on all the different kinds of diets, and you can lose ten pounds a week. Six months later you've got twenty more, because the mental emptiness was not filled by any of those diets. No? Very simple thing. You've heard it all before. And I repeat that. I remind you, that's all. The saints have said it. The sages have said it much better. The prophets have spoken of it, written of it, sung of it. A friend's duty is just to remind a friend. That's all. I keep reminding you.

We've talked of contemplative walking. I hope you've had a chance to read through the booklet. I recently walked the labyrinth in the Cathedral of Chartres in France. I was there in the end of May. The labyrinth is drawn on the floor of the cathedral hall. I don't remember the exact dimensions. It is twenty meters at the most, maybe less. And I saw people going in there walking around in five minutes, ten minutes. It took me one hour and forty minutes. And because of my certain physical condition I cannot do more. So I did not walk back the same trace, otherwise it would be three and a half hours to complete that. That's why I am not agreeing to walk with people and what you have planned, because we are having something at the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, the courtesy of Amy and John and other friends and they have a replica of the Chartres labyrinth. I don't have the physical energy to take the full three and a half hours that it would take to walk the labyrinth my way.

What we have written in the booklet is for your daily walks and so on. The monastic, contemplative walk is not quite that way. The monastic, contemplative walk has its own special technique. First of all: interior silence. Interior silence. Along with that, naturally relaxed musculature. One reason you people suffer so much is because part of your body, the part of your organs, limbs, your nervous system, your neuro-musculature, your sensory and motor nerves, your left and the right hemisphere of the brain you tire it unnecessarily by using those parts which are not necessary to use for a given task. As I said, you type with your shoulders instead of with your fingers. I don't type with my shoulders; I just type with my fingertips. Just that, just touch, let your fingers do the tensing. So my shoulders are not tired. I sit on the computer all night. Most days I lie down for a few hours of rest in the morning, 8:00, 9:00, because so much work to do. As people know. So I have to conserve every ounce of my energy and not waste it, in tension. When you people walk the forehead is walking, the shoulders are walking, the stomach is walking, the foot is going this way, the eyes are going that way. There is no coordination in your neuro-musculature, in your senses, in your experience of being. That's not walking, I don't know what it is. It is some making erratic graphs with your mind. What do the scriptures do?

"I have no peace of mind, Swami. Do something for me."

I have a magic wand? Nobody has a magic wand. No.

Some of these labyrinths, and so on, were made so that the monks could take their walks in their monastic cells. In a small space they could take, one, two, three miles walk. For a contemplative walk in a sacred sense, you can do circumambulation of a church, sacred spot, temples in India. Nobody in India went into a temple without doing the [pricrama?] doing the holy circumambulation once, twice, three times. Some of those temple campuses, the walls are several miles, you know, and people do first circumambulation and then the second wall around and then the third. How many walls are there? Seven [pricramas?] And so on. But if you are practicing silence in a monastary what do you do? We have a tradition along with silence, in our tradition, monastic tradition, we call it [stalsanyasa?]. Heard of [stalsanyasa?]. [Stalsanyasa] is when you say to yourself, "Okay, I will not leave my ashram for three years."

Or, "I will not leave my monastic cell for three years."

The very first retreat in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition--you don't reach that state for quite a while, first you have to prepare. When they first initiate you, in the old Tibetan monasteries, you have to do 125,000 prostrations, with your mantra. (I've seen people do it in temples in Korea. The poor people, there is no one to guide them so they are "hah-ah," huffing and puffing. I sometimes wish I could just stay there and tell them how to do it.) 125,000 prostrations to the divinity, with the recitation, mental recitation, of the prayer.

Total purification after that. And after they have gone through that, they are given the first retreat. You're given a box, in which you cannot stretch out fully. You don't sleep for the sake of laziness. You sleep slightly curled. And for three years, three months, three days, three hours and perhaps, three something, the minute is not their count; you stay there, except for toiletry. Remain. The whole world is forgotten, and you are totally interiorized. When I go stay in places, like here and the last retreat in Koinonia, you all will see, I am not in the position to take that type of [stalsanyasa?].

People sometimes ask me, "Swami, where do you live?"

I say, "Look out from here, thirty-five thousand feet straight up, there's a place called aeroplane. That's my ashram!" [laughter]

So I cannot take that [stalsanyasa?] which I would very much like to. But those who come to the ashram they know I seldom, from my seat, ever walk down to the ashram gate, no desire.

Whatever is to happen, happens by itself. If I have steadiness and balance everything around just goes on right, just happens. I don't ever run around the whole ground, no. I don't. And when I come to a hotel, or a retreat place, or somebody's house you know they spread a little two, three blankets on the floor, a wooden board behind to support my back because my back is not in a good position, all my books are on the floor along side me. If I don't have those low tables I am used to in my ashram, I pull out one of the chest of drawers and turn it over. And I use it for my computer table and my dining table. And you will see me there twenty-four hours.

I leave my seat just to come here. I eat on that seat. I sleep there. I meditate there. I study there. I do my computer work there. I meet people there. I don't move. No inclination. So I practice my [stalasinyasa?] in this way. So external conditions are no excuse, if you have the inclination. It's only your restlessness, which makes you accuse the external conditions and other people. I'm telling you, believe me: it's only your restlessness. Your lack of inner calm, makes you restless, makes your voice restless, makes your body restless. Practice of silence gives you an interior restfulness.

So the monastic walking technique is very different. Okay? Remember your deity, your prayer, your mantra, your guide. Your spine in the same position in which it is when you are meditating. Stand with your spine in that position. Your shoulders relaxed. Your facial muscles relaxed. You have no anxiety, no fear, no resistance.

Then your walk begins. Your hands can be in this position, the meditation position. They can be at your side. If you are really on a more difficult pilgrimage, you might want to keep it that way. For a certain part of the walk you might want to do it that way. But I find, personally, this position with relaxed shoulders, with right hand holding the left hand and the thumbs joined, relaxed, not tight. This time, for Guru Purnima, I send everybody a gift, just a picture of my hand. Everybody keeps asking for a picture of me, so I send them a picture of my hand. Hand in meditation. And make sure that you've relaxed all parts. Your feet are parallel only the parts of your mind, your motor nerves, your musculature, your skeleton, that are necessary for walking are to be used. Please remember that formula, the rest should be in a state of interior stillness.

When you're assured that your breath is flowing gently slowly and smoothly,

Lift your heal of the right foot, your prayer is going on, and you place the toes right in front of the other foot, toes first,

Then put the heal down, kind of swivel from the waist, you can see from the waist here and you lift the heal, and while doing so, remember your prayer and remember your breathing, and remember your mantra, your prayer word.

Again the toes down, your heals you balance on both feet, kind of lift yourself from the waist up again this way.

Watch your mind, how it is walking.


Maintain your prayer.

At each step make sure that you have not picked up tension, that your mind has not wandered off.

Now your eye, there are two ways, actually, three ways:

A fixed gaze, on the horizon. If you're balanced, you will not slip and fall. Just there, your eyes fixed straight, and you walk, and you keep your prayer.

The other way, you keep your eyes, let us say, about one yard from you on the ground, and you keep it there all the way through, so you are not being distracted. Your mind is concentrated.


The other is keeping the eye on the hand. See? When you are very, very interiorized keep it that way, okay?

Each step is contemplative. It is awareness. Okay.


When I do the walk, I stop. I don't just put my foot down and lift the other foot. I stop for a second. Relax, meditate, breath, just for a second, and so on. So it's not a walk like this. It's a walk like this, one foot in front of the other, spine straight. Decide whether your gaze is to be at the horizon or one yard from you on the ground, or on your hand. Okay? Your prayer, your mantra. Body relaxed, total awareness of being, breath flowing smoothly, gently slowly. After awhile it will become enjoyable. It will not be a strain. It will not be an effort. It will be the most relaxing thing you do through the day. But at each step, stop for a second to recoup, to relax, to remember. Each step, you've taken this step: always put the toes down, then put the heals, then lift the heal from the other foot, hold, relax, remember your prayer, slide the foot, slide the foot forward, see? Slide the foot forward. Toes down, balance, hold for a second, relax, meditate, watch your breath lift the heal, then lift the toe, then put the toe down, then the heal down, balance, hold.


Try it. Try it in your room, as though it were your monastic cell. And walk for fifteen minutes in your room. In the limited spaces, where people live in very, very crowded conditions in Asia, all over India, we have flat roofs. There are no parks. There are no green spaces. What is the density in those places? How many thousand people per square mile? Hot. People go to the roof in the evening and they walk around, a whole family walks. Single file. Whole family walks single file, on the rooftop. That is the only resource they have for some fresh air.

So remember these steps, from now until the rest of the retreat. Practice this contemplative walking, even when you walk to the dining room. Try it, for a part of the way. For an evening walk, try it part of the way. Walk fifteen minutes in your room, to and fro. But follow the steps that I've given for each step:


Straight spine.

Relaxed shoulders, and body, and face.

Awareness of your prayer and mantra.

Fixing the gaze.

Lifting the heal of one foot, and putting the toe of that foot down.

Balancing on the two feet in that position.

And during that time remembering to relax, becoming aware of yourself again.

In one second, remembering your prayer.

Lifting the heal of your back foot.

Sliding the foot forward.

Placing the toes.

Then placing the heals.

There are twelve steps in each step. Keep a book titled: "How to Do Contemplative Walking". Keep your notes. If you don't want to do contemplative walking, read your notes on how to do contemplative walking. Share recipe.


All this how-to about mystical experiences, and how to open your chakras. And how to go into silence. I don't know why it has not occurred to anybody to do research on smile. How many centimeters to the left and to the right; how many micro-inches open; how much of the tooth showing for what social effect, no? What happens when your smile is only one eighth of an inch wide; what kind of hormones are flowing; what level of endorphins are being released.

You can have wonderful charts and several Ph.D. theses. You will be an expert on smile. Only you will have forgotten how to smile. No? That is what we have nowadays on How to Be a Mystic. Okay? I don't know which school the infant, the baby, the fetus went to learn: How to Smile Effectively at Your Mother. Okay. Enough.


When you go home. . . . Okay, let me put it this way: I've observed this with very keen perception. Everybody has a kind of a ground-level, baseline emotion. I've been saying it for a long time, now it's been proved, by measuring the activity of different parts of the cortex and so on. And wherever people are, they use that as a baseline to see whether there is a change in their emotional make-up through the practice of meditation, or breathing, or relaxation, or what have you. There are a lot of studies. I have a list, a bibliography, of about 2500 articles in medical and scientific journals on meditation. If I had some kind of a research grant, I could sift them and really summarize them in some sequence.


So everybody carries some kind of baseline emotion through life. It changes. It may change from year to year, but it becomes your baseline emotion, a kind of baseline in which you remain, constantly. You're not aware of it, the level of your anger, or the level of your assimilated sadness. The level of your interior joy, a mixture of all of these--without showing it in a graph--is there, as a baseline. You may call that the zero point. And then, the graph rises or falls. Now anger, now joy, now happiness, now unhappiness, now sadness, now depression, now insecurity, now fear. It all arises from that baseline. And what you have to learn to do is change that baseline. So that your basic, mental frame changes.


And when your interior silence becomes your baseline, you speak from there--you'll come back to that. You'll play from there--you'll come back to that. You'll smile from there--you'll come back to that. You may guffaw from there--come back to that. You'll walk from there--you'll came back to that. See. It's a sort of monitor, your over-eating, your over-reacting, and what have you. Next thing that will come to you is that you will become a perceptive observer.

You know I have never red a book on psychology in my life, and I see psychological problems and I diagnose them and a psychologist said, "How do you know that? This is how we do it actually in the clinical set-ups."

I am a keen observer of mind, first my own mind. That's the book you need to read. You want to study psychology? Read the book titled, Your Mind. Everyone wants to be a mind reader but they can't read their own minds.


My favorite joke is that I knew one expert on gastric diseases. Knew everything about stomach and digestion and colon and food and all the digestive juices, you know, world famous expert.

He had a belly about this large. For all his expertise, he never knew, in his own mind, when his stomach was full. He hadn't read his own stomach. He read all the books. So be a mind reader. Read your own mind. Watch its vagaries, its movements, how it shifts ground, what it does, what effects it brings, first in your body, then in your surroundings, then in the persons you are communication with.


What I do when I am sitting and talking with someone:

First of all when someone walks in I say, "Hum, you're very upset, angry, frustrated, troubled, all right."

I make sure to calm him. My professional instrument is something always by my side and that is a box of tissues. People have no one to cry to, so I make sure within five minutes of coming, sitting with me, they cry. Because they feel the love, they feel the compassion they've never had before, they start crying. So there is my box of tissues. Here . . . I wipe their tears with my own hand, somewhere in my course on Counselor and Therapist Training Program I said, "Counselor, do not counsel; console."

So then I see, talking to someone, sometimes this shadow passes over people's faces, as they are communicating. I've become a very keen observer of those shadows that pass over people's faces. If you're dwelling in your interior silence, your mind does not create the noise that befogs your vision. If you're in interior silence, your mind does not create the noises that befog your perceptive vision. Most married people have never looked at their wives and their husbands, I'm telling you. Thirty-five years married, forty years married!

"Swami, we are having a Fiftieth Anniversary of our wedding!"

How very nice. But they have never learned to look at each other's face and that is where all the friction comes from. That's where all the friction comes from.

A person comes, I watch the shadow passing over the face, and I normally always have a yes response to whatever I'm saying. When I see a shadow, and I see the person is, in the mind, resisting a bit, you want to say no. What do I do? I check. I scan my last sentence. Where did I fail? What was my tone? What was the emotional feeling in my mind, at that time? And I change it. Then the negative shadow disappears. The person goes away happy. You can do that with your boss. You can do that with your employee. You can do that with your manager.

You can do that with everywhere. Be a person who has learned to call evoke a "yes" response.


You know, in the lectures of mine, I keep saying the same thing, because people don't learn. They hear.

"Yeah, what a nice lecture."

What good is a nice lecture? If it didn't help you, if you didn't help yourself to it, it was of no use.


Copyright 2003 West-Art, Prometheus 90/2003


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Copyright 2003 West-Art

PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin for Art, News, Politics and Science.

Nr. 90, Winter 2004