An essay by Keerti, published in Deccan Chronicle and The Asian Age on December 8, 2015.
There is an Arabian proverb: When you have spoken the word, it reigns over you. When it is unspoken you reign over it.
Words are very important tools of communication. The words delight us when they are used by intelligent people with full awareness and the words bring calamities when they are used without awareness. The speech without awareness can be a dangerous weapon as it can harm people far and wide.
That’s why the enlightened masters such as the Buddha advised his disciples about right speech, saying that if we cannot perform right speech, we had better not speak; as it is said, “Silence is golden.”
It is certainly true that right speech brings happiness, harmony and wisdom to life. On the contrary, wrong speech brings conflict, division, confusion and suffering to life. The poet Robert Frost observed: Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half of who have nothing to say and keep on saying it. This situation creates a huge conflict between the two halves. Those who have nothing to say have always been clamouring for the freedom to say it, as they think it is their birth right. And everybody in the modern world is fighting for what is his birth right. With such endless fights about the birth right, the right expression gets lost in all kinds of noises between my right and your right, and the fights continue to erupt on regular basis.
Jesus Christ warned humanity: But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgement for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.
Osho says: “Ordinarily we understand only words. We are prepared to understand only words, not silence. We are educated to understand language and all its complexities. Nobody helps us to go beyond language, to go beyond words, to reach the wordless space within us.
“Silence is the explosion of intelligence. Silence means: you are just uncluttered spaciousness. It means you have put aside the whole furniture of the mind — the thoughts, the desires, the memories, the fantasies, the dreams, you have all pushed aside. You are just looking into existence directly. That is silence. And to be in tune with existence even for a single moment is enough to make you aware of things. One is that you are eternal. Once you realise this, fear disappears. And the society exists through exploiting your fear; hence, it teaches you from the school to the university, it devotes almost one third of your life in learning words, language, logic. It is not concerned at all that you should understand silence.
“That’s the function of a Master: to undo all that the society has done to you, to help you to go beyond words. And you can experience it happening here – you can hear the silence. And when you hear it, there is immediate understanding. Understanding comes like a shadow following silence.”
Osho concludes: “To understand words and to hear words is very simple. Anybody can do it; just a little education about language is needed, nothing much. But a tremendous transformation is needed to hear silence and to understand silence… Silence is the basic requirement of understanding God, the basic requirement to know truth… Silence can be profane too. Silence can be sacred too. Silence has as many nuances, as many dimensions as your being has. It is multidimensional.”
Swami Chaitanya Keerti, editor of Osho World, is the author of Osho Fragrance
Excerpts by Osho from The Wild Geese and the Water, Ch 9, Q 5
Illustration Osho News, credit to Tripti Parule