My mind wanders. When I am alone, I want to be with others. When I am with others, I want to be alone. My mind wishes the monologue to end, and also to continue. My mind yearns for silence, and also fears silence. When I am with myself, I get time for introspection. Solitude gives me the ability to observe life dispassionately. “Our great fear is not submersion by the mass but isolation from the herd.” We want to be alone but we don’t want to go to the Himalayas to be alone. We want to hear ‘small voices’ and ‘silence of infinitely open spaces’. Can one avoid inner storms? The noise within can be quite deafening. “We yearn for silence, yet the less sound there is, the more our thoughts deafen us.” Should one flee to the Himalayas, in search of silence? In the valley of silence, there is no family, no colleague, and no media; only thoughts chatter ever more loudly in the head. How can I quieten the noise within? The perception of sound is a state of the mind. Despite too much noise, often, I don’t notice it. More than the acoustics, it is the experience of the sound that matters. The noise of anxious thoughts torments us. We may run away to the Himalayas to get rid of the noise, but can we run away from our mental turmoil? We carry it wherever we go. It is true that noise disturbs inner silence. It is also true that in the absence of outer noise, inner noises remain. Our mental lives are pervaded, to a remarkable degree, by the non-present. To calm inner noises, we often take the help of ‘outer noises’, such as listening to good music, or reading a good book. The quieter one becomes, the more one can hear. Sri Aurobindo said, when the mind is still, then truth gets her chance to be heard in the purity of the silence. But it is not easy to keep the mind quiet.

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