The Sound of Silence! An oxymoron, is it? No, it actually has a basis, beyond the realm of scientific experiments, hypothetical conjectures, metaphysical discussion and other such flowery technical jargons… Why, you could even try its validity for yourself!
Do this, hold a spoon in your mouth by the teeth, and strike it gently. You will ‘hear’ a loud sound in your head. ‘Hear’ and not ‘Hear’ because this sound has not reached to you via the medium of air and through your ears. What we typically ‘Hear’ are sound vibrations striking our middle ear, which subsequently get transduced as mechanical and then electrical energy or nerve impulses. You could relate to piezoelectric materials for broad analogy.
The nerve impulses are the key to all perceptions – aka senses: touch, taste, smell, sound and sight. Sentience, the raison d’ etre of a material life, is the synergy of various perceptions of our surrounding via each of these senses. And our brain, the ultimate contraption to perceive surrounding, developed by the human body after years of evolution, depends singularly on processing the nerve impulses delivered at the brain’s processing centers by the nerves to do this.
In fact this commanality, the input being nerve impulses, among all the five senses can be used effectively to trick the brain in believing a particular kind of sensory stimulation to originate from somewhere else. Let me explain this to you with what has been actually done. Scientists have developed gadgets for the blind people, that emit high frequency sound waves, which are processed to generate electric signals. These signals are then fed to visual cognition centers in the brain via electrodes. The brain processes these and generate images of the surrounding. The patient can then easily navigate the room as if he were seeing it all with his own eyes.
Now you can understand the difference between ‘Hearing’ and ‘Hearing’ as I meant. In the absence of any medium to carry sound waves eg. in space, you can still ‘Hear’ things. If you have already given a try to the experiment I suggested above, you would have found that the ‘quality’ of what you heard is much better than what we hear from the surrounding. This is because the environment around us is totally ‘sound polluted’; sound waves of various frequencies, amplitudes etc. create disturbances and cause destructive interferece. What you would have actually heard by striking the spoon was unadulterated mechanical jolt passed on by your tooth, to the brain via bones of the skeleton. All these being good conductors of sound, and no noise being present, the ‘quality’ of what we hear is indeed good.
So what do we learn by now. We found that less the outside disturbance, and more the sound comes from whithin, better is the quality of what you hear. A good quality sound has physical basis – regular waveforms, amplitude, etc. rather than being ‘jarred’. This is good because it ultimately yields good quality nerve impulses. If the same quality of the latter can be fed to the auditory cognition centers in the brain, irrespective of the original source being sound, mechanical, or electrical, we can enjoy the same soothing effect as a good quality auditory sound does to the heart as well as the mind. It is very holistic for your development. No doubt, one of the central goal people strive for in meditation is to be able to hear their own heart beats one day. It is extremely faint and very elusive to hold ‘listening’ for a long time. But, however difficult this is, it can be done, and experts have indeed achieved it. Also, they unanimously agree on this – that the ‘listening/hearing’ is from whithin, after years of learning to concentrate deeply; trying to exclude external disturbances with the power of your mind.
This brings us to the most promising aspect of the Silence. In the absence of noise and external auditory hindrances, you tend to ‘hear’ yourself more. You begin to come to terms with your thoughts and you actually start ‘listening to your heart‘ both literally and figuratively. It aids in you being one with yourself. Solitary moorings at parks in the evening, or a stroll down the woods amidst its tranquility, all these are such a pleasure and rejuvenate us. Just imagine how peaceful our being would be if we could meditate in the space (the only sound you will ever hear would be from whithin), literally listening to the heart pounding. The very essence of ‘being’ and what it all means would be clear in the truth of such a moment. Indeed the Sound of Silence is more revealing than any can ever be….