Silence prevails. Sound ultimately fails. I shall tell you a funny story. Some of you perhaps have heard it, but most of you have not. This story happened when I was eight or nine years old. Because of the second World War, nobody knew what would happen next. So my brother Chitta went to the market and bought rice and dhal and other things in a very large quantity. He and I were standing at a particular place in the market. We were not selling anything. Only we were standing there.
My brother was reciting passages from the Upanishads, sacred mantras. I heard these mantras many, many times when I was a small child, but at that time I did not pay much attention because I was restlessness incarnate. Only four or five years later, when I was in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, my restlessness completely disappeared and I was the one to recite them loudly thousands of times, sometimes millions of times.
Anyway, my brother was reciting most soulfully. All on a sudden, a middle-aged man came up to us and he started screaming at my brother, "Your father borrowed money from me, and he has passed away. Now who is going to give me the money back? You! You have to give me the money."
This man happened to be the manager of a circus. Why would my father borrow money from the manager of a circus? My brother did not pay any attention to the man and his shouting became loud, louder, loudest. He was almost ready to strike my brother. I was getting so annoyed that I was about to do something. But then the man suddenly left. I continued pumping my football with a pump. Then I was ready to go.
In ten or twelve minutes' time, the man came back. Once again, my brother did not pay any attention to him. On his part, there was only silence, silence. The man came and fell flat at my brother's feet. This time he was not shouting but crying. Why? My brother did not have to return any money. It was this man who had borrowed money from my father! He thought my brother would ask him for the money, but my brother was not even aware of it. My brother knew nothing about it. When the man saw the saintly qualities of my brother, his conscience came to the fore. Then he had to come back and beg for forgiveness. He said, "I was the one to borrow money from your father. But I do not have any means to return the money."
My brother again remained silent. He did not say a word. Then the man went away. He knew that my brother was not paying any attention to him.
So here you can see how silence acts. As much as you can, try to preserve silence, silence, silence. In the beginning, the barking dogs disturb us so much. But when we have poise, inner poise, the barking dogs surrender. Quite often we are advised by our Inner Pilot that when people bite us ruthlessly, we cannot come down to their level to bite them. There should be some difference between a dog biting and a man biting. The very nature of a dog is to bark and bite. But, after some time, the dogs stop biting because their ego starts operating. It is beneath their dignity to bark when the man is not responding.
I have said many times how we can know whether it is a friend or an enemy who is knocking at the door. The friend will knock a few times, and the friend will think, "He is doing something important. Otherwise, he would have definitely opened the door for me. He has such love for me, I have such love for him." Then the friend will wait patiently.
The enemy will knock hard for a few minutes. Then the enemy's ego will come to the fore and he will say, "It is beneath my dignity to knock at his door. Who needs him? I will have nothing to do with him."
So the enemy disappears, but the friend stays because the friend knows there is something important going on inside. That is why you are not opening the door.
A fly sits on your hand and you brush it away. Then it comes back and again you brush it away. Twenty or thirty times it returns. Then you decide that you want to compose a beautiful song or you want to write something. You cannot pay attention to those flies. What happens? You see that the flies have all disappeared. Why? It is their inborn ego. You are not paying any attention to them, so why do they have to stay?
Enemies always try to draw attention by hook or by crook. When you ignore, ignore, ignore, these enemies disappear. They go and knock at somebody else's door. When you pay attention to them, it only creates more problems.
So silence is the answer. That is also the theme of my famous story, Silence Liberates.
SCA 1275. On 25 December 2002, in Christchurch, New Zealand, Sri Chinmoy was inspired to speak about the importance of silence after one disciple read out her poem entitled Silence.↩