Chapter 68 — Four Types of Silence (Mouna), the State of Sleep-Silence

Vasishta said:—

Rama, remain as inwardly quiet as in your silent sleep. Keep the thinking of your mind at a distance. Get rid of the wanderings of your imagination and remain firm in the state of Brahman.

Rama said, “I know what is meant by restraint of speech, quietness of the sense organs, and the muteness of a block of wood. But tell me. What is sleep-like silence, which you know well by your practice?”

Vasishta replied:—

The sages of old (munis) describe two kinds of practices of silence (mouna). The one silence is that of the rigid ascetic, like a wooden statue of a saint. The other is the silence observed by those who are liberated in their lifetime. The wood-like devotee is the austere ascetic who does not meditate in his mind, but is firmly employed in the discharge of the rigorous rites of religion. He practices painful restraints of his bodily organs and remains speechless like a wooden statue. 5 The other kind is the living, liberated yogi who looks at the world with unconcern, who delights in his meditation of the soul, and who passes as any ordinary man without any distinctive mark of religious order or secular rank. The difference between these two kinds of saintly and holy men is in the fixedness of their minds and the calmness of their souls, and is what passes under the title of silence and saintliness.

Thus silent sages describe four kinds of silence (mouna): silence in speech, silence of the sense organs, wood-like speechlessness (violent restraint), and the silence that is like one’s sleep. Silence in speech consists of keeping one’s mouth and lips closed. Silence of the senses implies keeping the organs of sense under strict control. Rigorous muteness means the abandonment of all actions, and sleepy silence is as silent as the grave. There is a fifth kind of dead-like silence which occurs in the austere ascetic in his state of unconsciousness, in the profound meditation of the tranquil yogi in samadhi, and in the mental abstraction of the living liberated. 10 All the first three states of silence occur in the devotee who practices austerities. The fourth, the sleep-like silence, is the only silence that is conducive to attaining living liberation.

11 Though speechlessness is called silence, yet it is not a complete restraint of speech. The mute tongue may brood evil thoughts in the mind which lead to the bondage of men. 12 An austere devotee practices restraint without being mindful of his own egoism, or seeing phenomena, or listening to others’ speech. Seeing nothing beside him, he sees all in himself, like living fire covered under ashes.

13 The mind being busy in these first three states of silence, but freely indulging in its fancies and reveries, makes silent sages (munis) in appearance only, but none like this understands the nature of God. 14 None of these has any of that blessed divine knowledge which is so very desirable to all mankind. I state freely that they do not know God, be they angry with me or not as they may.

15 The inactive, meditative silent sage who is liberated from all bonds and cares in his lifetime is never to be born in any shape in this world. It is interesting to know more about them, as I will tell you. 16 He does not need to restrain his breathing or vital airs, nor does he need the triple restraint of his speech. He does not rejoice at prosperity, nor is he depressed in adversity, but preserves his equanimity and the evenness of his senses at all times. 17 His mind is under the guidance of his reason, neither excited by nor restrained from its fancies. His mind is neither restless nor dormant. It exists as much as it does not exist. 18 His attention is neither divided nor dammed but fixed in the infinite and eternal one. His unconfined mind thinks and reasons about the nature of things. Such a one is said to be the sleeping silent sage.

19 The sleeping silent sage knows the world as it is. He is not led to error by its deluding varieties. He scans everything as it is without being led to skepticism. 20 The sleeping silent sage places his faith and trust on the one endless and ever blissful Shiva as the collection of all knowledge and the displayer of this universe. 21 The sleeping silent sage sees emptiness as fullness and views this all as nothing. His mind is even and tranquil. 22 The best state of silence is in he who views the universe as neither reality nor unreality, but as an empty vacuum without foundation, but full of peace and divine wisdom.

23 The mind that is unconscious of effects and is unconscious of the different states of prosperity and adversity is said to rest in its highest state of rest and quiet. 24 The source of unimpaired restraint is perfect equanimity of the mind and evenness of temper that is not liable to change or fluctuation, with a clear conscience and unflinching self-consciousness. 25 The real source of silence is the consciousness that “I am nothing, nor is there anything besides” and that the mind and its thoughts are not reality. 26 The state of sleepy silence means knowledge that the Ego pervades this universe and the Ego’s essence is displayed equally in all things, which is the meaning of the expression, “The one that is.”

27 Now, if Consciousness constitutes all and everything, how can you conceive your distinction from others who are moved by the same power that dwells alike in all? This knowledge is called everlasting sleep and forms the groundwork of every kind of silence. 28 This is the silence of profound sleep. Because it is an endless sleep in the ever wakeful God, this sleep is like being awake. Know this as the fourth stage of yoga, or rather, the stage that is above it. 29 This profound trance is called the fourth state of entranced meditation. The tranquility which is above this state may be had in one’s waking state. 30 He who is situated in his fourth stage of yoga has a clear conscience and quiet peace attending on him. The adept who is established in this state may or may not meditate, and may be embodied or without body.

31 Yes, O Rama, desire to be settled in this state! Know that neither I nor you nor any other person is any real being in this world. The world exists only as a reflection of our minds, and therefore the wise man should only rely upon the heart of empty consciousness which comprehends all things in it.