Those who are interested in making gold should be silent. There is even a saying, “Silence is golden.” In Sanskrit there is a proverb. Silence in Sanskrit is “mouna.” And the proverb goes, “Mouna kalakanasti.” Kalakam means: problems or quarrels. Nasti means: don’t exist. So, the translation is: “If you are silent, you won’t have quarrels.” That means only by talking do we create more problems. We don’t know how to talk, how much to talk, what to talk about. So the immediate benefit of being silent is that you stay out of trouble.
Silence also helps calm the mind. The physical silence, or vocal silence, will help mental silence. When a thought comes, you cannot express it or put it into words, so the mind ultimately says, All right, what is the point of my thinking? So, this is one way to reduce your thoughts.
Ultimately, by practicing mouna, you get into a thoughtless state. That’s mouno mounam. Vak mouna is the silence of speech. Mouno mouna is silence of mind and it helps you to turn within, to understand, and analyze your own mind. For example, when you don’t talk to others there’s no point in sitting in front of somebody, so you begin to turn within. It helps you to understand your own mind. When the mind doesn’t go outward it turns inward.
There is still one more mouna—silence on the more gross, physical level: the bodily silence. That means you don’t move around. You stay in one place. That helps the other silences also.
Now, with all these silences, what is the benefit? As I said earlier, the silence of the speech spares you from problems. At the same time, it saves a lot of energy. There are many, many ways of spending our energy, or our prana. Talking is one of the major ways that we spend our energy. It takes a lot of energy to talk. There are even ways of photographing the heat waves that go out when we talk, like in Kirlian photography. Kirlian photography can easily prove how much energy and how much heat we waste or throw out by our talking. So by not talking you save a lot of prana. And ultimately, when you experience the mental mouna, or the mouno mouna, the mind gets strengthened because it does not lose its energy by thinking constantly. So, silence is an important practice. But of course it’s not possible for us to be silent all the time. But at least during certain periods of the day try to be silent.
“Thou art that” is one of the important mahavakyas (great sayings) of the Upanishads. Know that you are That. Be silent and find such inner knowledge for yourself. In that silence, realize your true nature. There are no words to describe it…