Bathe in the center of sound, as in the continuous sound of a waterfall, or by putting the fingers in the ears, hear the sound of sounds.
This technique can be done in many ways. One way is to begin by just sitting anywhere. Sounds are always present. It may be in a market or it may be at a Himalayan retreat: sounds are there. Sit silently, and with sound there is something very special. Whenever there are sounds, you are the center. All the sounds come to you from everywhere, from all directions.
With sight, with eyes, this is not so. Sight is linear. I see you — then there is a line toward you. Sound is circular, it is not linear. So all sounds come in circles and you are the center. Wherever you are, you are always the center of sound. For sounds, you are always God, the center of the whole universe. Every sound is coming to you, moving toward you, in circles.
This technique says, BATHE IN THE CENTER OF SOUND. Wherever you are, if you are doing this technique, just close your eyes and feel the whole universe filled with sound. Feel as if every sound is moving toward you and you are the center. Even this feeling that you are the center will give you a very deep peace. The whole universe becomes the circumference and you are the center, and everything is moving toward you, falling toward you.
… AS IN THE CONTINUOUS SOUND OF A WATERFALL. If you are sitting by the side of a waterfall, close your eyes and feel the sound all around you, falling on you from every side, creating a center in you from every side. Why this emphasis on feeling that you are in the center? Because in the center there is no sound. The center is without sound, that is why you can hear sounds; otherwise you could not hear them. A sound cannot hear another sound. Because you are soundless at your center, you can hear sounds. The center is absolute silence. That is why you can hear sounds entering you, coming to you, penetrating you, encircling you.
If you can find out where is the center, where is the field in you to where every sound is coming, suddenly sounds will disappear and you will enter into soundlessness. If you can feel a center where every sound is being heard, there is a sudden transference of consciousness. One moment you will be hearing the whole world filled with sounds, and another moment your awareness will suddenly turn in and you will hear the soundlessness, the center of life.
Once you have heard that, then no sound can disturb you. It comes to you, but it never reaches you. It is always coming to you, but it never reaches you. There is a point where no sound enters. That point is YOU. Do it in a market, there is no other place like a market. It is so much filled with sounds, mad sounds. But do not start thinking about sounds — that this is good and that is bad, and this is disturbing and that is very beautiful and harmonious. You are not supposed to think about sounds, you are simply supposed to think of the center. You are not supposed to think about every sound moving toward you — whether it is good, bad, beautiful. You are just to remember that you are the center and all the sounds are moving toward you — every sound, whatsoever the sort.
In the beginning you will get dizzy because you have not been hearing whatsoever is happening all around. Your hearing is selective, your seeing is selective. And now scientific research says that ninety-eight percent is not heard, only two percent of whatsoever is happening all around you is heard. Otherwise, if you heard one hundred percent of what is happening all around you, you will simply go mad. Previously, it was thought that the senses are the doors, the openings, the windows for the outside to enter inside. Now they say they are not doors, and they are not so open as it was thought. Rather, they are like a watchman, a censor, who is every moment watching what is to be allowed in or not.
Only two percent of happenings are allowed in — and you are already mad with two percent. With one hundred percent, with a total opening, with everything opened, every sense opened, functioning, and everything being allowed in, you will go mad. So when you try this method, in the first step you will feel a dizziness coming to you. Do not be afraid, go on feeling the center — and allow everything, whatsoever is happening. Allow everything to move in.
Relax yourself, relax your watch towers, your senses; relax everything, let everything enter you. You have become more liquid, open; everything is coming to you, all sounds are moving toward you. Then move with the sounds, and come to the center where you hear them.
Sounds are not heard in the ears, the ears cannot hear them. The ears only do a transmission work, and in the transmission they cut out much which is useless for you. They choose, they select, and then those Sanskrit sounds enter you. Now find out within where is your center. The ears are not the center, you are hearing from somewhere deep down. The ears are simply sending you selected sounds. Where are you? Where is your center?
If you are working with sounds, then sooner or later you will be surprised — because the center is not in the head. It appears to be in the head because you have never heard sounds, you have heard only words. With words the head is the center, with sounds it is not the center. That is why in Japan they say that man thinks not through the head, but through the belly — because they have been working with sounds for a long time.
You have seen in every temple a gong. That is placed there to create sounds around a seeker. Someone is meditating, and the gong is sounded or a bell is rung. A disturbance seems to have been created by the very sound of the bell; someone is meditating, and this bell or gong seems disturbing. In a temple, every visitor who comes will hit the gong or ring the bell. With someone meditating there, this would seem to be a constant disturbance. It is not, because the person is waiting for this sound.
So every visitor is helping. Again and again the bell is hit, and the sound is created and the meditator again enters himself. He looks at the center, where this sound goes deep. There is one hit on the bell — the visitor has done that. Now the second hit will be inside the meditator, somewhere inside. Where is it? The sound always hits at the belly, at the navel, never in the head. If it hits in the head, you can understand well that it is not sound, it is words. Then you have started thinking about the sound. Then the purity is lost.
Now there is much research about children who are in the womb. They are also hit by sounds and they react to sounds. They cannot react to language. They have no head yet, they have no reasoning, and they do not yet know language and the agreed-upon customs of the society. They do not know about language, but they hear the sounds. And every sound affects the child more than it affects the mother, because the mother cannot hear the sounds — she hears the words. And we are creating mad sounds, chaotic, and those sounds are hitting the unborn children. They will be born mad; you have already disturbed them too much.
Even plants are affected by sound. They grow more if some musical sounds are created around them; they grow less if some chaotic sounds are created around them. You can help them to grow. You can help them in many ways through sounds.
Now they say that because of traffic noises — which are not harmonious and cannot be — man is going mentally insane, and it seems that the limit has come. If it grows more, then there is no hope for man. These sounds are hitting you continuously, but if you think about them they will hit your head, and that is not the center: the navel is the center. So do not think about them.
All the mantras are meaningless sounds. And if some master says that “This is the meaning of this mantra,” then it is not a mantra at all. A mantra needs to be, of necessity, without meaning. It has some work, but no meaning. It has to do something within you, but it has no meaning because it has just to be a pure sound within you. That is why we evolved the mantra AUM. It is meaningless, it is just a pure sound. If this pure sound is created within you, if you can create it within, then too the same technique can be used.
BATHE IN THE CENTER OF SOUND, AS IN THE CONTINUOUS SOUND OF A WATERFALL. OR, BY PUTTING THE FINGERS IN THE EARS, HEAR THE SOUND OF SOUNDS. You can create the sound just by using your finger, or with anything which closes your ears forcibly. Then a certain sound is heard. What is that sound, and why do you hear it when the ears are closed, when the ears are plugged?
It happened in America, that a train passed through a certain neighborhood in the middle of the night, somewhere about 2:00 a.m. A new line was inaugurated and the train stopped moving on the old route. But a very strange phenomenon happened. The people who were living in that neighborhood where the train had stopped moving complained to the police that at about 2:00 a.m. something mysterious was heard. There were so many reports, it had to be investigated what was the matter. Strange sounds were heard at about two. They were never heard when the train was passing; the people had become accustomed to the train. Now suddenly the train stopped. They were waiting to hear it in their sleep; they had become accustomed to it, conditioned. They were waiting, and the sound was not there. Absence was heard, and this absence was something new. They felt uneasy about it, they couldn’t sleep.
So for the first time it was understood that if you are constantly hearing something and it stops, you will hear the absence of it. So do not think that you will simply not hear it. You will hear the absence, the negative part of it will be heard. If I look at you, and then if I close my eyes, I see your negative. If you look at the window and then close your eyes you will see the negative of the window, and the negative can be so forceful that if you suddenly look at the wall the negative will be projected on the wall. You will be seeing the negative.
Just as there are negatives of photographs, there are negative sounds. Not only can the eyes see the negative, the ears can even hear the negative. So when you close your ears, you hear the negative world of sounds. All the sounds have stopped. Suddenly a new sound is heard. This sound is the absence of sound. A gap has come in. You are missing something, and then you hear this absence.
OR, BY PUTTING THE FINGERS IN THE EARS, HEAR THE SOUND OF SOUNDS. That negative sound is known as the sound of sounds — because it is not really a sound, but its absence. Or, it is a natural sound, because it is not created by anything.
All sounds are created. The sound you hear when you close your ears is not a created sound. If the whole world becomes absolutely silent, then you will hear the silence also. Pascal is reported to have said, “The moment I think about the infinite cosmos, the silence of the infinite cosmos makes me very much afraid.” The silence makes him afraid because sounds are only on the earth. Sounds need atmosphere. The moment you go beyond the earth’s atmosphere there are no sounds — only absolute silence. That silence you can create even on the earth, if you close both of your ears completely. Then you are on the earth, but you have moved; you have dropped below sounds.
Astronauts are being trained for many things, and one thing is to be in the silence. They have to be trained in silent chambers so that they become accustomed to soundlessness; otherwise they will go mad. Many problems face them, and this is one of the deepest problems: how to be away from the human world of sounds. Then you become isolated.
If you are lost in the forest and you hear a certain word, you may not know the source but you are less afraid. Someone is there! You are not alone! In soundlessness, you are alone. In a crowd, if you close both of your ears totally and move in, you are alone. The crowd has disappeared, because it was through sounds that you could know others were there.
PUTTING THE FINGERS IN THE EARS, HEAR THE SOUND OF SOUNDS. This absence of sound is a very subtle experience. What will it give to you? The moment there are no sounds, you fall back upon yourself. With sounds we move away, with sounds we move to the other. Try to understand this: with sounds we are related to the other, we communicate with the other.
So even a blind man is not in so much difficulty as a man who cannot speak, who is dumb. Observe a person who is dumb: he looks inhuman. A blind man never looks inhuman, but a dumb person looks inhuman; the face gives a feeling of something which is not human. And a dumb person is in more difficulty than a blind man. With the blind man the problem is that he cannot see, but he can communicate. He can become a part of a greater humanity, he can become a part of a society, of a family; he can love, he can speak. A dumb man is suddenly out of society. He cannot speak, he cannot communicate, he cannot express.
Try to imagine yourself in an air-conditioned glass room, a soundproof room. No sound can enter to you, and you cannot scream, you cannot do anything to express yourself, the sound will not go out. In a glass room you can see the whole world moving around you, but neither can you speak to them nor can they speak to you. You will feel hopelessly frustrated, and the whole thing will become a nightmare.
A dumb man is in a nightmare continuously. Without communicating he is not part of humanity. Without expression he cannot flower. He cannot reach anyone and no one can reach him. He is with you and far away, and the gap is unbridgeable.
If sound is the vehicle to move to the other, then soundlessness becomes the vehicle to move to oneself. With sound you communicate with the other; with soundlessness you fall down into your own abyss, into yourself. That is why so many techniques use soundlessness to move within.
Become absolutely dumb and deaf — even if only for a few moments — and you cannot go anywhere else than to yourself. Suddenly you will find that you are standing within; no movement will be possible. That is why silence was practiced so much. In it, all the bridges for moving to the other are broken.
Gurdjieff used to give long silent periods to his disciples, and then he would insist that not only was language not to be used, but there was to be no communication, no gesture — neither with the eyes nor the hands. No communication was to be used. Silence means NO communication. So he would force the group to live in a house — twenty, thirty or forty people in one bungalow, in one house — and than he would say, “Remain here in this house as if you are alone. You cannot go out.” Forty persons would be there, and he would say, “Move in the house, live in the house as if you are alone. No communication! Do not recognize that the other is, not even by the eyes. Move completely as if you are the only person residing in the house.” With three months of living in this way, absolutely dumb and deaf, with no possibility of communicating, there would be no possibility to move out.
I do not know whether you have observed or not, but in society those who can talk much become prominent; those who can communicate their thoughts easily become leaders — religious, political, literary, any type. Those who can communicate their thoughts, those who can talk efficiently, they become leaders. Why? They can reach more people, they can reach to greater masses.
Have you ever heard of any dumb person becoming a leader? You can find a blind man becoming a leader; there is no problem. And sometimes he may become a great leader, because all that his eyes are not doing, all those energies will be transferred to his ears. But a dumb man cannot become a leader in any walk of life. He cannot communicate, he cannot become social.
Society is a language. Language is basic to social existence — to relationship. If you leave language, you are alone. The world may be filled with millions, but if you lose language you are alone.
Meher Baba stayed continuously for forty years in silence. What was he doing in silence? Really, you cannot do anything in silence because every act is somehow related with others. Even in imagination, if you do something you will have to imagine others; you cannot do it alone. If you are absolutely alone, action becomes impossible. Even the imagination to act becomes impossible. Acting is related to others. If you drop language inside, all doing drops. You are, but you are not doing anything.
Meher Baba would tell his disciples, by writing a note, “On this particular date I am going to break my silence,” and then he would not break it. This continued for forty years, and then he died in silence. What was the problem? Why should he say, “Now, this year, on this day, on this date, I am going to speak?” And why should he postpone it again? What was happening inside? Why would he not keep his promise?
Once you know silence for such a long time, you cannot fall back to sounds again; it becomes impossible. There is a rule, and he didn’t follow the rule so he could not come back. There is a rule that one should not remain silent for more than three years. Once you cross the limit, you cannot come back to the world of sounds. You may try, but it is impossible. It is easy to move from sounds to silence, but it is very difficult to move from silence to sounds. Beyond three years many things simply become impossible. The mechanism cannot function the same way again. It has to be used continuously; at the most, one can remain silent for three years. Beyond that, if you remain silent the mechanism which can produce sounds and words cannot be used again, it becomes dead.
Secondly, the person becomes so much silent remaining with himself alone that it will now be a misery to communicate. Then to say something to someone will be like talking to a wall, because the person who has remained silent for such a long time knows that you cannot understand whatsoever he is saying. Regardless of what he is saying, he knows he is not saying that which he wants to say. The whole thing has gone. After such a deep silence, he cannot move again to the world of sounds.
So Meher Baba tried and tried, but he couldn’t bring himself to speak again. He wanted to say something, and he had something worth saying, but the mechanism and the movements necessary to come back to a lower realm were impossible. Thus, he died without saying what he wanted to say.
It will be helpful to understand this: whatsoever you are doing, always go on doing the opposite with it. Go on changing to the opposite always. Remain silent for a few hours, then talk. Do not become fixed in anything — you will be more alive and more moving. Do meditation for a few days, and then stop suddenly and do everything that can create tension in you. Then move again to meditation.
Go on moving between the opposites, you will be more alive and dynamic. Do not get fixed. Once you get fixed, you will not be able to move to the other extreme, and the ability to move to the other extreme means life. If you are not able to move, you are already dead. This movement is very good.
Gurdjieff advised his disciples to have sudden changes. He would insist on fasting and then he would say, “Now eat as much as you can.” Then suddenly he would say, “Go on a fast.” Then again he would say, “Start eating.” He would say, “Be awake for a few days and nights continuously, then fall asleep for a few nights.” This movement between the polar opposites gives you a dynamism, an aliveness.
OR, BY PUTTING THE FINGERS IN THE EARS, HEAR THE SOUND OF SOUNDS. In one technique, two opposites have been shown. BATHE IN THE CENTER OF SOUND, AS IN THE CONTINUOUS SOUND OF A WATERFALL — this is one extreme. OR, BY PUTTING THE FINGERS IN THE EARS, HEAR THE SOUND OF SOUNDS — this is another extreme.
One part is to hear the sounds coming to your center; another part is to stop all sounds and feel the soundless center. These both have been given in one technique for a special purpose — so that you can move from one to the other.
The OR is not a choice to do this or that. Do both! That is why both have been given in one technique. First do one for a few months, then do the other for a few months. You will be more alive, and you will know two extremes. And if you can move to the two extremes easily, you can remain young forever. Those who get fixed at any extreme become old and die.