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Is a spiritual mind a compromising mind? || Acharya Prashant (2020)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
7 min
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Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, I would like to raise a notion of compromise, and specifically in its primary dictionary definition, according to which, it is disagreement where both parties being unable to solve a problem settle on making concessions, so in a way, reaching a middle way.

Acharya Prashant (AP): Come again, compromise in the context of?

Q: So, I'm mentioning this primary definition because I know that there are other definitions, but I'm only now concerned with this one when both parties are trying to find a middle way. Then again, there are situations where this definition doesn't seem to hold. For example, there is a party next door, and we feel we are entitled to ask them to turn down the music, or I want to sleep and I feel entitled to ask others not to talk because, or I don't want to talk to someone, and I am expecting that they respect this request.

So, it seems that quietness and silence trump noise. And I am wondering, firstly, whether this we can take as proof that our innate nature is indeed silence. And secondly, I am wondering, how compromise, in this primary definition, comes into play in the spiritual process, and if it has any legitimacy at all.

AP: See, silence is, indeed, your inner nature, but not necessarily the silence of the oral kind. Inner nature is mental silence and not necessarily the silence in which there is an absence of words or sounds. Depending on the situation, even if you are surrendered to the inner silence, externally, you may require either physical silence or some material sound. So, either way, it is possible. And both these possibilities are when you are, indeed, surrendered to the inner silence; in love with the inner silence. In that case—two possibilities.

The first case is: you really do not have much affinity even for inner silence, and this situation applies to a great majority of people, right? Now, even these kinds of people may seek either physical silence or physical sound outside. So, if you find someone very keen on living at a noiseless place, that in no way conclusively demonstrates the person is indeed devoted to inner silence. It is quite possible that a person very fond of living noiselessly, in a physical way, in an oral way, is actually very noisy within. In fact, it could go to the extent that one demands external silence only so that, internally, one can keep chattering with himself.

And on the other extreme, it is possible that someone who is very silent within might be in the business of sound and words, and even, noise—day-in, day-out. So, it has to be remembered that outside we live in a world of activity. External sounds are one kind of activity; external silence, too, is a kind of activity. So, in talking of silence, in respecting silence, let us not confuse real internal silence with wordlessness or soundlessness in the external sense; they don't have much to do with each other.

Now coming to the point of compromise—that's a social arrangement, and once you have entered that arrangement, you will have to abide by it. Suppose you live at a place that has been socially or officially declared to be a ‘silent zone’ past 10 pm, then you indeed are entitled to demand that someone just shut down his music, or stop talking noisily. But then, that is so very social. You cannot go to that person at 9 pm and say that, “I am in love with spiritual silence. So, can you please turn down your music?” You cannot say that.

So, when it comes to dealing with others, remember that we live in a society or in changeable societies, and living in any society is an act of choice. One is always free to switch societies, one is always free to move to some other circle, and that freedom must be exercised. But as long as one is there in one particular space, it is incumbent upon one to play by the rules of that space. If the rules of that space were so very unpalatable, then one should not have entered that space in the first place, or having entered it, one should have corrected herself and sought a nearby or a different space. So, that's not a question carrying much spiritual significance, but the first part is, indeed, quite important for all of us here.

External silence is a very ineffective, very unreal substitute for the real thing. In fact, it is likely that if you are busy gossiping within—you know, we all are masters at internal monologues—then you require a very silent room, don't you? Think of it. If all you want is your own company, which is probably the worst company anyone can have, then you would not want any external sound around you. You would say, "No, no, no! Let nobody be there. Let even the TV and the radio be switched off. I want to be with myself." And what will you do with yourself? Chat, chat and chat endlessly. And is that chatter any good? No. To an outsider, it might even appear that you are sitting silently, and that's how the other person, upon seeing you, would remark. He would say, "Oh, look at you! How silent are you," but are you really silent? Only you know the situation. This thing (pointing to the head) within is buzzing. There's an entire marketplace inside—so much noise.

And extend the situation now. Let the external silence be breached by the words of someone who really understands. Let's say, you were sitting in your so-called ‘silence’ in a vacant room. And internally, you were quite noisy. Now, there is someone who enters the room and this fellow knows a thing or two about life, and he starts speaking to you. Externally, it would appear as if the silence of the room has been violated, right? There was no sound, and now there is sound; now somebody is speaking. But what is the real happening?

The real happening is if the person really knows life and mind, then his words would bring you to inner silence. So, the inner happening is quite the opposite of the outer happening. On the outside, things have changed from silent to not silent. Internally, things have changed from not silent to relatively more silent. That will connect to the second part of your question because that will tell you how to choose the society one has to live in. Try to be with people who have the capacity to get to silence and equally, bring others to silence. One has to live with people, and it's great to live with people who are internally a little less chaotic.

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