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Chapter 17: The Voice That Is Soundless

Remember: Listen only to the voice which is soundless. How can one listen to the voice which is soundless? In Zen they have a koan: to listen to the sound of one hand clapping. We can listen to the sound of two hands clapping. In Zen the master gives the discipline a koan, a puzzle to meditate on: listen to the sound of one hand not clapping with another. They call this the deepest meditation, to try to listen to some sound that is uncreated. If you go on meditating, go on meditating - just sitting and meditating, trying to listen - you will hear many things. This is one of the most beautiful techniques. Just close your eyes, sit under a tree and start listening. You will hear many new sounds you were never aware of before. Birds, insects. Very slowly, you will become aware of many sounds around you. Go on finding the sound which is uncreated.

Every sound will be created. A bird starts singing and then stops. That which was created has now moved into nonexistence. Go on listening, go on listening. And go on trying to find out which is the sound that is uncreated. By and by, more and more subtle sounds will be heard. By and by you will start hearing your own heartbeats, you will start hearing your own breathing. But that too is created. Your heart will stop, your breathing cannot continue forever. It was not always so. When a child is born there is no breathing. Then suddenly the child starts crying and breathing starts.

Go on listening deeply. These are not soundless sounds. Throw them out, eliminate them. You will start listening to the sound of your blood circulating. More subtle: you are not ordinarily aware of your blood circulating. You will hear it circulating, you will hear the sound. But it is also created through circulation, through conflict. Go on eliminating. A moment comes, if you persist long enough, when all sounds have disappeared; you cannot hear anything. A gap is created: all sounds have disappeared, and with these sounds, the whole universe has disappeared for you, as if you have fallen into emptiness.

But don’t be afraid now. Otherwise you will fall back again to the world of sounds. Remain unafraid. It will look like a death. It is, because with the sounds lost, you have also lost your mind. Your mind is just a chattering box. No more mind, no more sounds, no more world: you will feel as if you have died. You are no longer, because you were nothing but a combination, a collection, of sounds.

Persist! This death is beautiful because it is the door to the divine. Go on trying to listen to what is there now, after the gap, if you have traveled it without becoming afraid and scared.

If you are scared, you will fall back again; you will run back again to the world of sounds, and the mind will start functioning again. But if you are unafraid and can persist in this gap of soundlessness, you will become aware of a new sound, which is uncreated. Hindus have called the sound omkar, om. Om is just a symbol, just a symbol for the sound that is always there, in the innermost self: omkar. Aum, aum, aum, is going on there, uncreated. No one is uttering it. It is.

This is the soundless sound - uncreated. And only with this sound can you enter the holy of holies.

The fifteenth sutra:

Look only on that which is invisible alike to the inner and outer sense.

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