It is roughly three in the morning as I write this post. Gusty winds are blowing as if they want to uproot the Himalayas. Old and tall trees are swaying like they are trying to embrace each other. Out of love or fear, I don’t know. It’s pitch dark outside and you see the trees and mountains only when lightning strikes. The skies have dislodged a massive thunderstorm and rain is cascading down like there is no tomorrow.
There is no sound of any bird, any living creature. This is the current scene in my solitude where I’m finishing some of my writings.
At an altitude of 8000 feet, as I sit here in peace, witnessing this grand play of nature and listening to the beautiful sounds of winds, rain and thunder, I’m reminded of a little story.
Once upon a time, a farmer lost his watch while working in the barn. This was not just any watch but his most favorite possession. His late father had given it to him decades ago. He searched for it frantically, in every nook and corner of his barn. He turned the hay upside down but it was nowhere to be found.
Somewhat distraught, hardly had he sat down when he heard children playing outside. He asked them for help and promised a reward of $20 to the one who found it. Excited, eager and hopeful, the children rummaged through the whole area, practically combing every haystack, yet they couldn’t find it either. They gave up and went back to playing. The farmer thought he would never see his watch again.
“Can you give me a chance?” a small boy tugged at his coat.
“I don’t mind,” the farmer said, surprised to see a little contender. “But, the other children and I have already searched everywhere.”
“I know,” he said. “I would still like to try.”
The farmer had nothing to lose so he let him in and carried on with his chores in the field.
A mere twenty minutes later, the young boy went running up to him.
“I found it!” he said, and, opened his hands revealing the watch.
The farmer picked him up in his arms, and said joyously, “How on Earth did you find it?”
“I just sat on the ground and listened to silence,” the boy replied. “After a few minutes, I heard the watch ticking. The rest was easy.”
We are desperately searching for our lost possessions, emotions and love, turning the world upside down only to feel tired a bit later. And then we sit down, we wonder, we worry, we muse, we reflect, we accept, we relax. In that state of mind, life appears like the young boy and hands it back to us.
Sometimes, the greatest way to search is to not search at all. When you don’t search and just let it be, then you hear the watch ticking, you hear how life’s bubbling over and you see the beauty in everything. When that happens, you realize that everything you already have is a prized possession in its own right, the present moment being the greatest of all.
Stilling the mind is one of the greatest skills for only a quiet mind can hear the song of silence. Restless minds become ruminators or brooders. A calm one, however, dances to the divine tune of silence. It is not necessary that we have to constantly be doing something important in life. Simply being aware, in the present moment and being happy is just as significant.
A young monk asked his mentor, “Master, is it a sin to sleep with a woman in the same bed?”
“Not at all, dear,” he replied. “To stay awake with her might be. To sleep is okay.”
Life is playful and it is demanding. Don’t let it keep you up; learn to sleep with it if you want peace. Many a time, when you let yourself be and when you let life be, things just work out on their own. To drop your worries may not be easy, but it’s doable. You simplify your life and your burden eases itself, or, you learn to experience silence and life looks simplified. Either way, you win.
There is no burden in sleeping, when you are awake your desires rise to the brim like bubbles do in water. At that time, if you know the art of silence, just watch those beads of air and you will discover a beauty and rhythm that will melt your talkative mind. Even tidal oceans look peaceful then.
Let me close with the famous and beautiful, one of my all-time favorites, The Daffodils by William Wordsworth:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
If there’s one thing everyone must gift themselves in their lives, in my humble opinion, is a stint of Himalayan solitude. It is transformational. And until you can do that, just sit in any quiet corner, close your eyes and allow yourself to flow. No thoughts, no thinking, no reflection, just flow like a mountain stream, a gentle breeze, like the murmuring Ganges. It’s only in that flow that you will discover the source of eternal happiness: the silence of the mind.