The words "peace, calm, quiet, silence" have each their own shade of meaning.
Quiet is the condition in which there is no restlessness or disturbance.
(In Sanskrit, quiet is called achanchalata, अचचलता)
Calm is the condition of positive tranquility, which no disturbance can affect. (In Sanskrit, calm is called sthirata, स्थिरता)
Peace is a still more positive condition. It is a deepened calm there is settled and harmonious rest; there is a sense of deliverance; it is so positive that it amounts almost to a tranquil waveless ananda. (In Sanskrit, peace is called shanti, शांति)
Silence is the absence of all motion of thought or other vibration of activity. Silence is a state of Stillness. There can be varying degrees of depth of stillness. (In Sanskrit, silence is called nishchala nirvata, निश्चल निर्वाता)
It is in the state of deep calm or silence that one enters into cosmic consciousness which is limitless and even the calm of the Atman, the Self above, silent, immutable and infinite.
Peace is a sign of mukti; ananda moves towards siddhi, capacity of realising willed results.
Purity is to accept no other influence but only the influence of the Divine.
Purity means freedom from mixture. The Divine purity is that state when there is no mixture of the turbid ignorant movements of the lower nature.
When one has the experience of "solid block" feeling, then it indicates the descent of a solid strength and peace in the inner and external being. This is the sure foundation into which ananda, light, knowledge, bhakti can descend in the future and stand on it or play safely.
Techniques and methods of attaining quiet, calm, peace and silence.
All these states are very close together and bring each other.
Ordinary activity of the mind only creates surface ideas and representatives which are not true knowledge. Speech is usually the expression of the superficial nature; therefore, to throw oneself out too much in speech wastes the energy and prevents the inward listening which brings the word of true knowledge.
Thought can be a force which realises itself, but the ordinary surface thinking is not of that kind; there is in it more waste of energy than in anything else. It is in the thought that comes in a quiet or silent mind that there is power.
Instead of bubbling on the surface, one can go into one's own depths and listen for what comes from a higher consciousness.
To retreat in a quiet place, where one does not expect any call is a very favourable condition.
To sit quietly and to sit comfortably or even to lie down comfortably is also very useful. Even walking leisurely or briskly (but without impatience) can also be a favourable condition.
The secret lies in the power of Concentration (ekagrata, एकाग्रता )
Concentration aims at bringing together all the threads of thoughts, feelings, vibrations on one single point.
The first step is to withdraw from everything that is not concerned with central point of concentration. (This is called pratyahara, प्रत्याहार).
The second step is to draw oneself again and again to the central point of concentration. (This is called dharana, धारणा)
The third step is to dwell for quite some time and even longer and longer on the central point of concentration. (This is called dhyana, ध्यान:).
The fourth step is to go beyond thought itself where one experiences the state of trance. (This is called samadhi, समाधि:).
In the lower state of samadhi, there is still some kind of thought; at a higher level, thought and the seed of thought are transcended or removed.
Meditation is one kind of concentration.
Meditation begins with the chosen subject of concentration. Thus, if it be the Divine Love, then the mind should concentrate on the essence of the idea of God as Love; gradually various manifestations of Divine Love arise luminously not only to the thought, but in the heart and being and vision. The idea of God as Love, as it grows and develops, begins to mature in the experience of God as Love.
Afterwards the experience which has been attained has to be dwelt on more and more till it becomes a constant experience and finally the law of the being.
Contemplation is another kind of concentration. It is more strenuous than meditation.
The method here is to fix the whole mind in concentration on the essence of the idea only. Here, the idea does not develop, but the idea itself is held in the centre of consciousness. By steady concentration on that essence of the idea, that which is behind the idea becomes realised. There is absorbed or ecstatic contemplation of the object. If one contemplates on the idea of God as Love, then one simply fixes one's concentration on the essence of that idea, one does not develop this idea but one fixes concentration without wavering. In due course, the luminous experience of God as Love bursts upon the consciousness.
Subsequently, the state in which we rise, must still be called down to take possession of the lower being, to shed its light, power and bliss on our ordinary consciousness.
A third process of concentration is to watch or witness in-coming rush of thoughts very quietly; one stands back from the mental action altogether, not participating in but simply watching it; the time comes when the mental action gets tired of its leaping and running, and it falls into an increasing and finally an absolute quiet.
It may also be helpful if one, while watching the rush of thought movement, rejects the thoughts before they arrive near the brain. One casts thoughts away from the mind whenever they come and one holds firmly on the peace of the being which one finds to be within oneself as always self-existent.
When this self-existent peace is unveiled, a great calm settles on the being and there comes usually with it the perception and experience of the all-pervading silent Brahman, and begins to feel that everything else is a mere procession of forms like images cast on cinematographic screen.
Whether by meditation or by contemplation, or by witnessing consciousness, when calm and silence is obtained, strenuous concentration will be found no longer necessary. A free concentration of will using thought merely for suggestion and the giving of light to the lower members will take its place.
By swifter or slower degrees, according to the previous preparation and purification of the body, life and mind, the knowledge of the Divine takes possession of our consciousness on all its planes and the image of the Divine is formed in our human existence even as it was done by the old Vedic Sadhakas.
Concentration and purification may be described as the right arm of the body of Yoga. Renunciation may be described as the left arm of the body of Yoga.
By purification and concentration we confirm in ourselves the truth of things, truth of being, truth of knowledge, truth of love, truth of works.
By renunciation, we seize upon the falsehoods, pluck up their roots and cast them out of our way so that they shall no longer hamper by their persistence, their resistance or their recurrence the happy and harmonious growth of our divine living.
Renunciation of life is not the goal of life. Renunciation must be only of all that is other than opposed to the divine fulfilment. There should also be a progressive renunciation of all that is a lesser or only a partial achievement.
We shall have no attachment to our life in the world; if that attachment exists, we must renounce it and renounce utterly; but neither shall we have any attachment to the escape from the world; if that attachment exists, that also we must renounce and renounce it utterly.
The supreme advice that is given is that of an inward renunciation.
We are told that attachment and desire must be utterly cast out; this does not mean that there is nothing at all that we shall love, nothing in which we shall take delight. For attachment is egoism in life and not life itself; desire is limitation and insecurity in the seeking for pleasure and satisfaction and not the seeking after the divine delight in things.
Instead of attachment and desire, we must have a universal love. This love must be calm and yet eternal intense beyond the brief vehemence of the most violent passion. We must have a delight in things rooted in a delight that does not adhere to their forms but that which they conceal in themselves and that embraces the universe without being caught in its meshes.
The most important method is first to turn inwards and to undertake introspection.
We look within ourselves without self-pity or self-flattery. As a scientist looks with his microscope into the object of investigation, even so, we look into ourselves as a scientist of self-knowledge.
There are two things which normally escape our attention, self-will in thought and self-will in action. These are to be taken note of and renounced.
Self-will means an egoism in the mind which attaches itself to its preferences, its habits, it's past or present formations of thought and view and will. This attachment must be first observed and then entirely renounced from the mind.
By this renunciation, we must keep ourselves open to the higher Word from above and to the light of the thought that carries in it its own opposites.
Self-denial is a necessary discipline because our heart is ignorantly attached. Inhibition of pleasure is necessary because our senses are caught and clogged in the mud-honey of sensuous satisfactions; objects of pleasures should be rejected because the mind fixes on these objects and we are prevented from going within ourselves. External renunciation is not the essential, but even that is necessary for a time, indispensable in many things and sometimes useful in all.
A complete external renunciation is a stage through which the soul must pass at some period of its progress, ‒ though it should always be without self-willed violence: and fierce self-torturing.
In the end, this renunciation or self-denial is always an instrument and the period for its use passes.
Simultaneously with renunciation, one must practise the truth of the following two verses from the Ishopanishad:
"But he who sees everywhere the Self in all existences and all existences in the Self, shrinks not thereafter from anything."
"He in whom it is the Self-Being that has become all existences that are Becomings, for he has the perfect knowledge, how shall he be deluded, whence shall he have grief who sees everywhere oneness?"
Knowledge is the consciousness of unity with the One.
Knowledge is tested when in any relation with the many different beings and existences of the universe, one can maintain an equal oneness with all.
Where there is inequality in the soul, there is an evidence of (i) motion of desire, (ii) play of personal will, feeling and action, (iii) activity of joy and grief or (iv) that disturbed and disturbing delight which is not true spiritual bliss but a mental satisfaction bringing in its train inevitably a counterpart of recoil of mental dissatisfaction.
Where there is inequality of soul, there is deviation from knowledge, loss of steadfast abiding in the all-embracing and all-reconciling oneness of the Brahman and unity of things.
In the attainment of equality, one knows in the midst of one's action that one is free.
METHODS AND TECHNIQUES:
The Bhagavadgita is distinctive in describing equality as the heart of Yoga. (समत्वं योग उच्यते) Contemplation or meditation on various verses of the Gita where equality enjoined is an extremely useful aid in developing equality in our consciousness.
The following verses from the Bhagavadgita may, therefore, be studied very quietly and repeatedly:
सुखदु:खे समे कृत्वा लाभालाभौ जयाजयौ |
ततो युद्धाय युज्यस्व नैवं पापमवाप्स्यसि ||2,38||
Being equal minded towards happiness and suffering, gain and loss, victory and defeat, engage yourself in the battle.2.38
निर्द्वन्द्वो नित्यसत्त्वस्थो निर्योगक्षेम आत्मवान् ||2, 45||
Become, O Arjuna, free from dualities, ever-balanced, unconcerned with acquisition and preservation and seated in the inmost self. 2.45
योगस्थ: कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनञ्जय |
सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्यो: समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते || 2,48||
Perform action, Arjuna, being fixed in Yoga, renouncing attachments and seated in equality in regard to success and failure. Equality is verily Yoga. 2.48
दु:खेष्वनुद्विग्नमना: सुखेषु विगतस्पृह: |
वीतरागभयक्रोध: स्थितधीर्मुनिरुच्यते || 2, 56||
He whose mind is not perturbed by adversity, who does not crave for happiness, who is free from attachment, fear and honour, -- he is the man of wisdom with intelligence fixed in equality. 2.56
यदृच्छालाभसन्तुष्टो द्वन्द्वातीतो विमत्सर: |
सम: सिद्धावसिद्धौ च कृत्वापि न निबध्यते || 4, 22||
He who is content with what he obtains without fever of strain, he who has transcended dualities, and he who is without envy and is equal in success and failure, he remains free even though engaged in action. 4.22
विद्याविनयसम्पन्ने ब्राह्मणे गवि हस्तिनि |
शुनि चैव श्वपाके च पण्डिता: समदर्शिन: || 5, 18||
Men of wisdom are those who have an equal eye for the brahmin imbued with learning and humility, a cow, an elephant, a dog and the despised. 5.18
इहैव तैर्जित: सर्गो येषां साम्ये स्थितं मन: |
निर्दोषं हि समं ब्रह्म तस्माद् ब्रह्मणि ते स्थिता: ||5, 19||
Those whose mind is seated seated in equality have conquered phenomenonal existence here itself. As the Brahman is flawless and equal in all, even so they stand established in the Brahman. 5.19
न प्रहृष्येत्प्रियं प्राप्य नोद्विजेत्प्राप्य चाप्रियम् |
स्थिरबुद्धिरसम्मूढो ब्रह्मविद् ब्रह्मणि स्थित: || 5, 20||
He who is seated in the Brahman, and who is the knower of the Brahman, fully awakened with stable intelligence, ‒ he does not get excited by obtaining what is pleasant and does not get aggrieved by obtaining what is unpleasant. 5.20
जितात्मन: प्रशान्तस्य परमात्मा समाहित: |
शीतोष्णसुखदु:खेषु तथा मानापमानयो: || 6, 7||
The highest self of the one who is tranquil and who has conquered the lower self is seated in equality in regard to cold and heat, pleasure and pain, honour and dishonour.6.7
ज्ञानविज्ञानतृप्तात्मा कूटस्थो विजितेन्द्रिय: |
युक्त इत्युच्यते योगी समलोष्टाश्मकाञ्चन: || 6, 8||
He who is satisfied with the knowledge of the essence and the knowledge of manifestation, who remains unshaken, who has conquered the senses and to whom clod, stone and gold are the same, he is called a Yogin. 6.8
सर्वभूतस्थमात्मानं सर्वभूतानि चात्मनि |
ईक्षते योगयुक्तात्मा सर्वत्र समदर्शन: || 6, 29||
He who is settled in Yoga has an equal eye everywhere, and he sees himself in all beings and all beings in himself. 6.29
यो मां पश्यति सर्वत्र सर्वं च मयि पश्यति |
तस्याहं न प्रणश्यामि स च मे न प्रणश्यति || 6, 30||
He who sees Me everywhere and sees all in Me, he never becomes lost to Me, nor do I become lost to him. 6.30
सर्वभूतस्थितं यो मां भजत्येकत्वमास्थित: |
सर्वथा वर्तमानोऽपि स योगी मयि वर्तते || 6, 31||
He who, seated in all beings, worships Me with steadfast oneness, he is a Yogi living in Me even though spread out in every way. 6.31
आत्मौपम्येन सर्वत्र समं पश्यति योऽर्जुन |
सुखं वा यदि वा दु:खं स योगी परमो मत: || 6, 32||
He who sees everywhere an image of himself, and he who has an equal eye for happiness and suffering, Arjuna, he is regarded as the supreme yogin. 6.32
अद्वेष्टा सर्वभूतानां मैत्र: करुण एव च |
निर्ममो निरहङ्कार: समदु:खसुख: क्षमी || 12, 13||
He who hates none and he who has friendliness and compassion for all, who is selfless, devoid of egoism, equal in suffering and happiness, forgiving......
सन्तुष्ट: सततं योगी यतात्मा दृढनिश्चय: |
मय्यर्पितमनोबुद्धिर्यो मद्भक्त: स मे प्रिय: || 12, 14||
Ever content, self-controlled and possessed of firm conviction, and one whose mind and intelligence are consecrated to Me, that Yogi, My devotee, is dear to Me.12.13 - 14
यस्मान्नोद्विजते लोको लोकान्नोद्विजते च य: |
हर्षामर्षभयोद्वेगैर्मुक्तो य: स च मे प्रिय: ||12, 15||
He by whom the world is not afflicted and whom the world cannot afflict, he who is free from joy, honour, fear and anxiety, he is dear to Me.12.15
अनपेक्ष: शुचिर्दक्ष उदासीनो गतव्यथ: |
सर्वारम्भपरित्यागी यो मद्भक्त: स मे प्रिय: ||12, 16||
He who is devoid of wants, who is pure and efficient, seated high above and free from all trouble, and he who has renounced all egoistic initiative, and who is My devotee, − he is dear to Me.12.16
यो न हृष्यति न द्वेष्टि न शोचति न काङ् क्षति |
शुभाशुभपरित्यागी भक्तिमान्य: स मे प्रिय: ||12, 17||
He who does not get excited nor does he get depressed, he who envies none and desires nothing, who has given up all good and evil, and he who is full of devotion, he is dear to Me.12.17
सम: शत्रौ च मित्रे च तथा मानापमानयो: |
शीतोष्णसुखदु:खेषु सम: सङ्गविवर्जित: ||12, 18||
तुल्यनिन्दास्तुतिर्मौनी सन्तुष्टो येन केनचित् |
अनिकेत: स्थिरमतिर्भक्तिमान्मे प्रियो नर: ||12, 19||
He who is equal to the enemy and the friend and he who remains equal in honour and dishonour, in cold or heat and in pleasure and pain and who is free from attachment, To whom censure and praise are equal, who is silent, and who is content with anything, homeless, steady-minded, full of devotion, ‒ that man is dear to Me.12.18 - 19
समं सर्वेषु भूतेषु तिष्ठन्तं परमेश्वरम् |
विनश्यत्स्वविनश्यन्तं य: पश्यति स पश्यति ||13, 28||
Because he sees the Lord, seated equally everywhere, and since he does not destroy self by the self, therefore, he attains to the Supreme goal.13.28
समं पश्यन्हि सर्वत्र समवस्थितमीश्वरम् |
न हिनस्त्यात्मनात्मानं ततो याति परां गतिम् ||13, 29||
Because he sees the Lord, seated equally everywhere, and since he does not destroy self by the self, therefore, he attains to the Supreme goal.13.29
समदु:खसुख: स्वस्थ: समलोष्टाश्मकाञ्चन: |
तुल्यप्रियाप्रियो धीरस्तुल्यनिन्दात्मसंस्तुति: ||14, 24||
मानापमानयोस्तुल्यस्तुल्यो मित्रारिपक्षयो: |
सर्वारम्भपरित्यागी गुणातीत: स उच्यते || 14, 25||
He who is equal in misery and happiness, settled in well-being, viewing a clod, stone and gold alike, free from preference for the pleasant and unpleasant, firm and the same in censure and praise, - He who prefers neither honour nor dishonour, neither friend nor foe and he who has renounced all egoistic initiative, he is said to have transcended the Gunas ( modes of Nature).14.24 - 25
न द्वेष्ट्यकुशलं कर्म कुशले नानुषज्जते |
त्यागी सत्त्वसमाविष्टो मेधावी छिन्नसंशय: ||18, 10||
He who does not desire to give up a disagreeable work or who is not attached to an agreeable work, and he who is imbued with sattwa and a steady mind where all doubts have been dispelled, he is the renouncer.18.10
ब्रह्मभूत: प्रसन्नात्मा न शोचति न काङ् क्षति |
सम: सर्वेषु भूतेषु मद्भक्तिं लभते पराम् ||18, 54||
He who has become one with the Brahman, whose self is ever glad, who desires for nothing and grieves for nothing, and he who is equal to all beings, he attains to supreme devotion for Me.18.54
In the course of development of equality, there are certain states which are semblances of equality, but they should be distinguished from the profound spiritual equality which the Gita teaches. For example, (i) there is an equality of disappointed resignation, (ii) an equality of pride, (iii) an equality of hardness and indifference. All these are egoistic in their nature; they must be rejected or transformed into the true quietude.
There are three phases of the development of equality:
(1) In the first phase of the development of equality, the real discipline begins with the movement towards mastery over those things from which we are at first inclined merely to flee.
It consists of enduring the shock of things, painful and pleasurable. It is complete when the soul can bear all touches without being pained or attracted, excited or troubled.
This stage of self-discipline is called Stoic self-discipline.
The stoic self-discipline is called, in Sanskrit, titiksha, तितिक्षा:
But this Stoic self-discipline is not necessarily an unmixed good, since it might lead to insensibility and inhuman isolation without giving the true spiritual state.
The Stoic equality is justified only as an element in the discipline of the Gita, but not as a goal. It is to be modified and heightened at a still higher level.
(2) The second phase of discipline consists of arriving at what may be called philosophical equality. It begins with a perception that there is in our being a lower self and a higher self, and that the lower self is to be conquered by the higher self.
The higher self is not insensitive and inhuman even when it is capable of mastery over common affections of our human nature. The higher self is discovered, first, by the power of the buddhi, the discerning mind. One begins to discover by means of introspective and discerning mind that all inequalities and turbulences belong to the lower self and that there is an undisturbed higher self which truly remains unaffected. This higher self regards alike clod and stone and gold, tranquil and self-poised in suffering and in happiness and honour and disgrace. In the perception of the higher self one becomes equal in soul to friend and enemy and to neutral and indifferent, because one sees that these transitory relations are born of the changing conditions of life.
(3) But there is a still higher third stage of equality.
Philosophic equality, which is attained in the second phase of discipline, is maintained by the power of the discerning mind and as long as equality is maintained by that power it does not give a sure foundation. As the Gita points out, "Even the mind of the wise man who labours for perfection is carried away by the vehement insistence of the senses." Therefore, one has to rise still higher to what may be called a divine birth.
In this new birth of consciousness, one finds the Divine not only in oneself, but in all beings. In one's unity with all, one is filled with intense sympathy and oneness. One is no more intent on one's lonely salvation. One even takes upon oneself the burden of the happiness and sorrow of others by which one is not oneself affected or subjected.
On who lives in this third stage of equality becomes a many-sided universal worker for the good of the world. In the words of the Gita he is युक्त कृष्णकर्माकृति (wholly engaged in fullness of work). One also becomes a Bhakta, a lover and a devotee of the Divine, a lover who loves God wherever he finds Him and who finds Him everywhere and what he loves, he does not disdain to serve nor does his action carry him away from the bliss of union, since all his acts proceed from the One and to the One. In this third stage, one arrives at a large synthetic equality in which all is lifted up into the integrality of the divine being and the divine nature.
It must be noted that the perception of equality does not mean blindness to differences and variations of expressions. It is a perception which goes behind differences and variations. It is the perception of the Complete and Immutable which dwells within.
This sense of equality seeks to understand and master the meaning of all happenings in the world, whether they are painful or pleasurable, whether they bring defeat or success, honour and disgrace, good repute or ill-repute, good fortune or evil fortune.
It will seek to understand and see the will of the Master in all works and results and all these as steps in the evolving expression of the Divine. It will perceive that all things move towards the Divine event. It perceives that each experience of suffering and want, of joy and satisfaction, is a necessary link in the carrying out of a universal movement which it is our business to understand and support.
This does not mean also that in the state of equality, one will remain a helpless spectator of events as they occur. On the contrary, one will enter into depths of quietude where one will strive to receive the message of the Divine Will which is always at work and which has always a message for the instrument who wants to carry out the Divine Will.
One is called upon to execute the Divine Will with full care and diligence.
But even in carrying out the Divine Will, one will be unshaken and will not be guided by the sense of revolt or condemnation but will make use of all the materials given in the world situation so as to marshal them for carrying out the Divine Will.
In that high status of spiritual equality, failure will be admitted as a passage as calmly as success until the hour of the divine victory arrives. The inner soul, the mind and the body will remain unshaken by acutest sorrow and suffering and pain if in the divine dispensation they come to us.
Thus in this great state of equality, one will continue steadily on one's way meeting all things with an equal calm until one is ready for a more exalted status and can enter into the supreme and universal Delight, ananda.