Acharya Prashant is dedicated to building a brighter future for you
The silence of wisdom is not a product of civilizational noise
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
19 min
39 reads

Questioner: Sir, who is the uncivilized one? Whom is it that the civilization disowns and calls it savage?

Acharya Prashant: Civilization is a product of man’s fight; it is man-made. The uncivilized-one runs counter to civilization. What is man-made will be countered by something which again is man-made. So there is somebody who is behaving in a very predictable way — arising from the set patterns. It is easy to see that the fellow is conditioned and that conditioning is man-made.

Let’s talk of a regular office goer, who spends ten hours in the office, who has a totally routine based life. We can see that he has been conditioned, it’s a pattern. And then we talk of the anarchic ways, of a rebel, of an outlaw, surely, the way he is behaving is disorderly. but even this disorder is man-made. So, when we look at human activity whether it is orderly or disorderly both the order and disorder are artificial. Artificial, in the sense of being products of the human mind and hence, being products of evolutionary conditioning.

But even this disorder is man-made. So, when we look at human activity whether it is orderly or disorderly both the order and disorder are artificial. Artificial, in the sense of being products of the human mind and hence, being products of evolutionary conditioning.

‘Who is the one who is really not civilized?’ is the same question as ‘Who is the one who is not man-made?’ It’s a deeply spiritual question, in a sense, we are asking Is there Truth? Is there something beyond the touch of a man? Because only that can be uncivilized.

On a particular occasion, I said that most cultures think of God as a wise old man or at least as a wise middle-aged man. Sometimes they think of him as a young man or a young woman, rarely. Then, I said, “God is much more like a very small kid not even conditioned by the society.” If He has to have a representation in the human form then let us rather represent him as a naked kid; not young, not middle aged, not old; very young!

On another occasion, I said, “If you want to represent God then represent him almost as a lunatic, as a madman.”

God’s wisdom will not be wisdom by wordily standards. The way Truth operates is highly uncivilized, beyond morality, beyond the comprehension of man. So, we can only call its ways as madness, craziness. Oh! Holy craziness it will be, but yet craziness. *So only That is not civilized, everybody else is civilized.*

Q: But at the same time, over centuries civilization have been seeking enlightenment and wisdom. How would you explain this in your term?

AP: Civilization means organization. We have organized something, it’s an organized-chase and civilization wants its continuation, so the chase must continue. For the chase to continue the organization must continue. It’s like me wanting something and organizing its opposite to chase it. What I want is freedom from organization, what I want is freedom and freedom include freedom from organization. To get freedom from organization I raise an organization. What do I get ultimately, continuously and perpetually? What do I get? Just organization. Freedom will elude me.

Civilizations want something and they are chasing. Now, what they are chasing might be something which is made further by the chase itself, which is distanced by the chase itself. So, civilization stands as an obstacle to its own ends.

I want something and what is the only barrier in getting it?


There are people, beautiful people, that neither have a chase nor an object to chase. But it will be extremely difficult to explain this to the civilized minds. It’s a horror to bring this to the civilized man that one can be called wise without even knowing of the wheel. He’ll say, ‘The fellow is not even knowledgeable, how you can call him wise? Because wisdom is higher than knowledge and the fellow doesn’t even have knowledge. He does not know about the wheel, he does not even know how to spin yarn, he cannot wear anything, he does not know about the raise crops, he does not know how to write even the first letter and you are presenting him to me as a role model. Seriously.’

So, extremely difficult to take this to the civilized man.

It is just the nature of civilization that one gets fed up with it.

And one gets fed up with it then one rushes to the hills and jungles.

What is all this rushes about?

If your cities, your buildings, systems and your organizations, your offices and your industries and all the beautiful parks and roads and venues of entertainment that you build up — if they are all so wonderful then why do you rush to the hills? The hills are absolutely uncivilized, they are so animal-like, they are so childlike, and they are so tribal-like. Why do you go to the hills, they are not even cemented? Barbarous! Why do you go to the hills? But that’s it.

Why do you go to the hills? But that’s it.

But that’s it.

Just that the lure of comfort and the momentum of the long process of conditioning is that one comes back. One comes back to the century of his four walls.

There would hardly be anybody who’d not feel a pinch of sadness on returning to the city having lived on the hills for a while. And if there does exist a man of this kind, I refuse to call him a man. Everybody feels that resistance — a particular kind of despair on returning. You know what is despair? This despair is the same thing as being born; this is the despair of the newborn baby. This is the crying out of the newborn baby. I was so alright, I was so fine in the womb of nature. Why are you bringing me back to the world? Why am I being born?

It is like waking up from deep peaceful sleep to a chaotic world, to the world where your wife or your husband is prepared to have a go at your neck; where you wake up and find that your boss has already sent a few missed calls to you. You dread to look at your inbox because more work awaits you. There is already a schedule waiting for you, an organized schedule, a civilized schedule.

You don’t want to wake up.

You don’t want to return from the hills,.

You don’t want to be born.

No kid wants to be born.

Let the tribal remain tribal.

This effort to civilize them is one of the deepest sins that man can commit.

Q: It’s a very effortful civilization but I also wanted to know from you that for a spiritual life, for a mystical life — and I only hope it is not a scholarly question because then I am defeating own purpose — Is language necessary for a spiritual life? I am saying this because I spent time in a community, it is a small, tribal community about 13 thousand people, over 4000 square kilometres. Their language is least developed, when I look at that vocabulary they don’t have so many words which are common for us. That makes me think that in my estimate these are very-very mystical people, very-very spiritual people and yet they don’t have a language.

I have personally begun to feel lately that language is a big hindrance to spirituality. I just want to know it from you.

AP: No, what you have said is pretty much complete in itself. You see, it has been known for centuries especially in the orient in India, people didn’t for decades altogether. Silence, by way of not speaking – not only mental quietude but just not speaking has had a very special and prominent place in spiritual practice. There is no doubt that language is a very important instrument of conditioning. *The spiritual man, first, gains freedom from thought and there is no thought without language.* You cannot think without language, so freedom from thought is freedom from language itself. It is impossible to be thinking without language.

So you’re very right about that. We had a particular discussion a few year back where we’ve said that if you really want to liberate a child then take him away and do not teach him language and secondly do not give him clothes. We have had this discussion; it was pretty a long discussion with a few opposing voices as well.

Why does one need language? What is the role of language? That has to be understood. Word, every word is not only a representation of reality; it is in fact, not at all a representation of reality; it is a fragmented building-up of reality, it builds reality. It doesn’t represent something. When we say this is a wall – it does not really sound intuitive but if you pay attention then we’ll come to it – when we say this is a wall, we have in some way build up a wall otherwise the wall was inseparable from the rest of the existence.

Do you see this?

So, by naming something, we separate it from totality. What was the wall? The wall was what the air, was the tree next to the wall, what the earth was, that was the wall – same. But by saying this is the wall and this is the earth and that is the tree and that is the sky, we have fragmented existence into four. And the more are the number of the words, the more is the fragmentation.

Q: Fragmentation and disillusionment.

AP: And subsequent disillusionment and suffering. So there is no doubt about it that by doing this we are only creating more sufferings for ourselves. The counter argument that is often given is that the language is necessary for only communication. But what is meant by communication? Why does really one man need to talk to another? What is it about you that I cannot know unless you speak it out words to me? What is it? And look at the way the rest of the existence lives, the wind knows how to talk to the flower. Does it not know?

Q: Yes, absolutely.

AP: I have a few rabbits that live with me and they surely know how to talk to each other, have never seen them heard they use a word. Or may be they do at frequencies I cannot hear, I don’t know. But they surely do communicate. They are more one than man and woman are. It’s a male rabbit and a female rabbit, I have never seen them misunderstand each other.

Q: Language was used as a tool for communication but what I feel is that the crisis exists only because the communication is not being done due to some incomprehensibility.

AP: But these two are always linked. Decoding is needed only when the coding is there in the first place. Now, why do you need to play this game of decoding and coding? When the Truth is obvious then why does it first needed to be coded? Wherever there would be an attempt at communication, there would always be barriers to communication. And then there will also be the campaigning problem, as you said, comprehension.

There is a more beautiful word that has been classically used: communion . Now is communion something is that happens after communication, in the sense, that it is dependent upon communication. It is linearly the next step after communication or is communion something that is pre-existent to communication. Do you get what I am trying to say?

I speak and you seem to comprehend, now, is our communion a result of communication or is it so that because we were already in communion so you were able to comprehend me? That is a very important distinction that is needed to be made. Now, if you can comprehend me, only if you are already in communion with me then language is anyway unnecessary. Because the highest goal of communication, which is communion, has already been attained. So, why talk anymore. The goods have been delivered why keep on placing orders. The prayer has been answered why to keep on repeating the mantra.

On the other hand, if communion is absent and is taken as a goal of communication then we are saying that in the moment of communication there is no communion because the communion will come next after communication. So, in communication, there is yet no communion how will you comprehend me? Are you getting it?

So what happens is that men keep talking to each other and so do women.

Q: A little more.


AP: Maybe, a little more, without any comprehension ever taking place and it is a horrible thing to think of. We might be talking to hundreds of people for hundreds of years and nobody ever knows what we are trying to say. Nobody knows who is saying what, it is just an internal dialogue taking place like a madman. I am talking to you about sociology and you are talking to me about radioactivity and we both are nodding to each other like a two wise man. ‘Yeah, she is talking to me about her new hair style and I am talking her about the new brand of shoes I have got and we both are looking at each other in loving glances!’

If language is meant to relate men, is it relating them or is it really distancing them?

Therein lies a great value of silence.

Q: Actually you have used a right word: communion. It’s such a beautiful word, Silence. But Silence sometimes is taken as the absence of sounds. My experience with the wild forest is that it has diverse sounds — wind blowing, and it has water gurgling. Silence is to me is a very different affirmative presence of agreeability, of communion, as you were saying. So, now the problem is that someone like me takes sixty years to understand that silence is not an absence, it’s a very affirmative presence.

AP: You know people are so very scared of silence because of this miscomprehension: they take Silence as the absence of language, thereby the absence of thought, thereby the absence of everything that is man-made and valuable. So, silence to them is the silence of the graveyard. It is not the silence of throbbing, pulsating wild. Are you getting it?

When you say Silence, it means death. Silence has a deeply negative image about it.

Silence is the space, is the field in which both the gurgling of the water current takes place and the listening to the gurgling takes place. Both the generation of the sound and listening to the sound takes place. That is silence. That is the foundation of both speaking and hearing. So that’s why it’s very apt that the travel culture, we call the culture of silence.

Q: And which doesn’t mean the absence of sound.

AP: They might be creating lots of sounds.

A jungle cannot be a very quiet place, there is so much organic activity going on all the time. So it is silent in the sense that everything is arising from and settling down into the womb of nature and that womb from where we all come, that womb is called as Silence. And the womb is a very fertile place, it is a very positive, a very affirmative place. It gives rise to everything.

It is just that this figurative womb that I am referring to is a place to which everything returns as well. It is not only productive it is also a center of dissolution. Things arise from there and things dissolve there.

So if you have things coming naturally, purely without being tainted directly from there then it is a culture of Silence. Even as the two of us talk together, we would be very justified in calling this a silent conversation if what you are saying is arising from the womb and if what I am listening is going back to that womb. Then, it is a silent talk. We can talk silently and we can talk for hours and what did we do? We were actually silent.

Silence is that great center from where immensity of sounds can arise and be comprehended. Once comprehended, something gets dissolve.

It’s gone. It’s like the letter has been read.

It is really a thing of despair what we have done to our tribal communities. And what we are doing, I don’t know whether something will be left of them but mankind would surely be poorer having done what we are trying to do. And it is so very difficult for a civilized man to understand. He has so many arguments, he says, ‘They do not even have vaccination, we want to civilize them so they can live longer.’ He says, ‘They are often very violent, they do not have any constitution or any laws. We want to give them a codified piece of law.’ And what he seems to be saying prima facie appears so very Nobel and benign.

Q: In one sentence if I may use your words: it is a longing to go back to the womb without restlessness, without unease. The civilization, as it has come around, whoever’s fault may be, the way it has come around, it seems to be distant from the womb. Because wombs are not man-made and womb I am using in a metaphorical sense. So it’s a longing for a return to the womb because that’s where, that very subtle enlightenment lies which needs no words, which needs no concepts, which needs no communications, just communion.

AP: It’s a very difficult thing, again, for the civilized man to accept that a tribal man without language, without science, without knowledge can be enlightened. We have a definite image of an enlightenment — an enlightened man who cannot speak! An enlighten man whose vocabulary consists of just 300 words. You call him enlightened, seriously! An enlighten man must be magniloquent. When he speaks, great scriptures rain from his mouth. And it hurts us badly to think that it is quite possible that our enlightened masters were actually the ones who had re-attained their tribal nature. It would deeply hurt our

We have a definite image of an enlightenment — an enlightened man who cannot speak! An enlighten man whose vocabulary consists of just 300 words. You call him enlightened, seriously! An enlightened man must be magniloquent. When he speaks, great scriptures rain from his mouth. And it hurts us badly to think that it is quite possible that our enlightened masters were actually the ones who had re-attained their tribal nature. It would deeply hurt our civilized ego because we create the images of our leaders and spiritual masters in a very civilized context — they wear all the clothes that we do, they speak the same languages as we do.

In fact, many spiritual seekers would quickly say, ‘If this is what enlightenment means, then I do not want enlightenment anymore. If enlightenment means that I will become like that tribal man then I am giving up my pursuit. No more enlightenment for me! Please, bring the menu again, something else needs to be placed.’


Q: I placed the wrong order.

AP: It is the wrong order.

Maybe, I need to become a visionary or an intellectual or a philosopher but not enlightenment; not my cup of tea. Because they don’t have any cups there first of all.

Because they don’t have any cups there first of all.


Q: No cups there 🙂

It’s been very nice talking to you. Thank you very much.

Have you benefited from Acharya Prashant's teachings?
Only through your contribution will this mission move forward.
Donate to spread the light
View All Articles