A Great Silence – Br. Shankara

We do not have an audio recording of this talk, but you can see and hear a video of the talk at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vA3mo2C3tmM

Click to download at PDF of the Notes Quotes from this talk.

January 12, 2020

January is a month for study of Raja Yoga, a spiritual path often called the yoga of meditation. As a raja yogi, you use ancient, proven spiritual techniques to quiet your mind and gain control of your attention.

Regular daily practice of Raja Yoga increases your ability to concentrate, and may lead to meditation. This can unite you with the Divine Presence, the source of your being, and liberate you from the cycle of rebirth and death.

This is from Swami Vivekananda’s book, Raja-Yoga:

“Yoga is restraining the mind – stuff (Chitta) from taking various forms (Vrittis).

A good deal of explanation is necessary here. We have to understand what Chitta is, and what the Vrittis are …

The [sense] organs (Indriyas), together with the mind (Manas), the determinative faculty (Buddhi), and egoism (Ahamkara), form the group called the Antahkarana (the internal instrument). They are but various processes in the mind – stuff, called Chitta. The waves of thought in the Chitta are called Vrittis (“whirlpool”).

What is thought? Thought is a force, as is gravitation or repulsion. From the infinite storehouse of force in nature, the instrument called Chitta takes hold of some, absorbs it and sends it out as thought … You are the only sentient being; mind is only the instrument through which you catch the external world. Take this book; as a book it does not exist outside, what exists outside is unknown and unknowable. The unknowable furnishes the suggestion that gives a blow to the mind, and the mind gives out the reaction in the form of a book …

The real universe is the occasion of the reaction of the mind. A book form, or an elephant form, or a man form, is not outside … Now we understand what is meant by these Vrittis. The real man is behind the mind; the mind is the instrument in his hands; it is his intelligence that is percolating through the mind …

Thus you understand what is meant by Chitta. It is the mind – stuff, and Vrittis are the waves and ripples rising in it when external causes impinge on it. These Vrittis are our universe.”

It follows that when you learn to still these Vrittis — the goal of Raja Yoga — your universe disappears. What replaces it, according to the Yogis, is not darkness and emptiness, but a Great Silence: Radiant, unbounded Consciousness, knowledge unspeakable of the blissful identity of Atman-Brahman.

My mind, saying the

sacred syllables guru

gave me, somehow slipped

into a Great Silence and 

was stilled. Nothing more to say.”
— Tanka poem, DosLobos

On Sunday morning we will explore these ideas, and discuss how you can learn to still the thought waves of your mind.Note: There is silent meditation in the Chapel from 10:30-11am, before each Sunday’s talk. After the talk, devotees and friends meet in the Monastery from noon to 1:30pm, for tea, coffee, snacks and a continuation of our spiritual fellowship.

Spiritual talks and classes are open to the public and free of charge.

All are welcome.