Scribbled by Bharath C On May 04, 2016
Experiencing silence is possible on various levels. For many people it means calming of the mind, lessening the mental chatter that seems always present. It's like going from a crowded place to a calm place where no people are present.
We can achieve this with something that is called concentration on an object. When this concentration is strong enough the mind does not move along with external sense impressions and calms down a lot. The outside world seems to disappear, together with all distractions that are present because of sense impressions.
The next step in silence is the stopping of mental impressions. While we might have shut down much disturbance there is still the concentration on the object. We are aware of breathing for example and follow this with our thoughts (for example we think of the quality of it, or the pleasure). When concentration becomes stronger we can stop this mental following and there will be only the following. In, out, in, out. If we slow this down we might get to a point where following becomes automatic. We don't have to press for it anymore. This will be a very different impression from what we usually have and it will be very calm. Compare it to going to a forest and most sounds stop.
When we move past this point there are mind states that will only have 'silence' with small notions inside. These notions are connected to the silence and the absence of disturbance. One of these notions might be that there is nothing present in this state of mind, or that there is peace.
Once the mind completely drops these notions what remains is a wondrous mental state that is almost impossible to describe. While people might talk about various levels of silence and calm, this is the mind state without disturbance. The mind seems unmoving and the slightest motion is detected.
The significance of the experience is that prior to it we have no clue how much mental unrest is present in our mind, even when it's calm. We might think we know it, but compared to this mind state the smallest movement will seem as a disturbance. It's like throwing a small stone in a large pond, when there are many waves it will be undetected, when the pond is still the slightest movement will be seen.
The next thing that is possible is when the mind withdraws from this state. It is possible that the mind will receive sense impressions without the mind moving along with them, labelling them. So we might hear sound but the mind will not register it as sound. It is later, from memory that we understand what we've heard. This makes it clear for the observer that the sense impression and the mental impression are two different things that usually follow each other with lightning speed. It also makes clear that the experience of the world does not happen in 'real time', it happens because the mind matches experience with experiences stored in memory. These impressions from memory drag along many things, stories so to speak.
When we've noticed this our view of the world will never be the same. We slowly become aware that inside there is a story teller, something that has an opinion about everything. And this story teller creates a lot of unrest in our mind.