Silence is Golden!
By Chandroo D.
As a human race, we are loud. The Americans, Australians, Chinese, Indians etc. all over the world are the same – noisy when they get together. But when it comes to quietness, nothing beats the Balinese. There is a day in March when the whole island of Bali of nearly four million people is silent.
It is the Balinese New Year known as Nyepi (in 2012, it fell on March 23rd). It is a day of silence, fasting and meditation. Observed from 6 am until 6 am the next morning, Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection and as such, anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted. The main restrictions are: no lighting fires (and lights must be kept low); no working; no entertainment or pleasure; no traveling (airport closes down too); and for some, no talking or eating at all. The effect of these prohibitions is that Bali’s usually bustling streets and roads are empty, there is little or no noise from TVs and radios, and few signs of activity are seen even inside homes. The only people to be seen outdoors are the traditional security men who patrol the streets to ensure the prohibitions are being followed.
We celebrate New Year’s Eve differently. We go out of our way to be loud and attend clubs/discos/parties and ensure that our conversation is shouted above the music. We do not fast or meditate but we do have a go at promises and resolutions that no one believes we will honour.
“Yah, I am going to stop drinking, smoking and not look at another woman again”
“Yah, so am I”
Our new year is so loud that one can visualize a storm brewing somewhere in the world with all the rippling vibration in the atmosphere.
On a daily basis, one can hear the office staff shouting across the rooms; babies and children screaming away; and spouses/couples arguing/bickering away and what exactly for? To get attention! Look at me! I am right!
There are moments when we do control ourselves and keep quiet. And that is only at funerals, Memorial, Independence and National days when a minute’s silence is observed. Only a pin drop can be heard.
Can we actually be quiet for a full day? So I tried. Picked up a book, sat overlooking the park. Turned off the mobile, only for a little while because what if the family members are looking for me or I miss an important email that requires attention. The silence shocks me and all of sudden I realize what that strange feeling was. It was a moment of peace, calm and relaxation so much so that I was hypnotized to doze off. ‘What are you doing out in the verandah?’ The loud voice of alert is what suddenly woke me up.
We live in a noisy world. So noisy that soon silence in rarity will become a valuable period we will always yearn for. This quite period however does come to me only after midnight. Awake between 4 - 5 am, I am totally relaxed and fresh. It is a quiet time to ponder and catch up on the daily morning news on my tablet. Soon it is daybreak and the birds break the silence by chirping away, reminding me of the imminent hustle, bustle and the sounds of the daily life round the corner.
Silence is golden and only a few can master it aside from the Buddhist monks in the monasteries.