Photography & Yoga 6 Silence.

Photography and Yoga  ~ Part 6 ~


  ~  Silence ~  
All the scriptures say silence is the state that overcomes  
 the mind at that moment when it encounters the vision of the Truth. 
   When the mind has the vision of the Truth,  it falls into deep silence, it melts into silence.  
Swami Chidvilasananda from The Discipline of Silence 

With this chapter I begin a series of contemplations on individual aspects of my creative process in photography that relate directly to the yogic teachings and my practices of Siddha Yoga.  I start with Silence, then in subsequent chapters I will focus on the themes of Light, Time, Seeing, and The Heart.  Each contemplation will include photographs, the teachings of Gurumayi and Baba Muktananda, and my own experiences and personal reflections on the teachings and their relationship to my creative process in photography.

These five thematic categories are essentially interwoven and inseparable from each other, and yet there is much to be gained by looking at each one individually.  I must begin, then, by saying once again that when I have camera in hand and I am intent on making photographs, or when I am sitting before one of my finished photographs preparing to contemplate the image, my mode of being shifts into a state of consciousness that is very similar to meditation.  My mind becomes one-pointed or concentrated, and my entire being seems to open and become receptive.  I am not thinking; I am surrendered to the process, and a sense of quiet begins to pervade everything inside and outside me.  The sense of duality, of maya--the experience of separation between me and the world--begins to dissolve.  The shakti, (grace) seems to take over and acts in the way that it needs to move.  I am simply watching the grace manifest through my Creative Process.

Though when I am photographing I am looking through my eyes out toward the world of things and places, in this mode of perception it is as if I am seeing things from the inside. . . through the eyes of the soul or the heart.  When I come into full alignment with the Creative Process, everything I see is pulsatingly alive with a presence of silence; with light that seems to illuminate things from the inside.  The light seems to call out to me for my attention as if to point toward the things I must photograph.  All this is happening in Time suspended; time has come to a stand-still.   

Making or contemplating photographs in this meditative state becomes an experience of union and a means of praising a higher power which in yoga we call the Self, or Shiva.  In this meditative mode of being inner light and outer light merged; inner and outer corresponding forms unite with their own reflections in the form of a photographic image.  I am consciously having the Darshan of the "Creator" of all that is and is not--the Divine Self that dwells within me, as me.  I am honoring my Self by seeing myself in the form of photographic images.  

Pratika Darshana
As your meditation deepens, you come to a state where you experience pratika darshana.  You are meditating, and you also see yourself meditating. . .  You are meditating, but you are doing all kinds of work.  You are able to see yourself doing everything. . .  When you have pratika darshana you realize that what is inside is also outside, and what is outside is also inside.  When you have this experience you can truly respect God's entire creation. ~  It is the Truth.  What is inside is outside, what is outside is inside. . .  (from  a talk by Gurumayi  printed in Darshan #37, April 1990)    

When I am photographing, and when I am contemplating my photographs, I have learned to consciously step aside . . .  as if to get out of the way so that my Creative Process can do what It has to do to manifest the necessary images.  This detached, receptive, meditative state of watching one's self in the act of perception is known in yoga as Witness-consciousness. 

Witness-consciousness is called the inner eye, or the third eye, or the light of the eyes.  It is also known as the eye of wisdom, the divine eye, or the celestial eye. . .  The poet-saints understood that the true purpose of their eyes was to see the form of God. . . .  They lived with one strong yearning: wanting darshan, the vision of God; never having enough of it; wanting to behold the Truth in all its splendor.  Through the intense acts of remembrance and surrender, they did, in fact, see this entire universe as the light of God.  Gurumayi, from her book The Yoga of Discipline.    

We know that outer space, the space between stars and planets, is pervaded by silence.  Gurumayi teaches that Silence is the true nature of the inner Self.   Pure Silence is an attribute of the Heart, and it is the goal of yoga.  When I am seeing photographically, and when I am contemplating my photographs, the images become suspended in time and space; they are luminous with the mystery and presence of silence, the mystery of grace.  They are vibrant with ineffable meaning--meaning that can only be felt, experienced.  Images dissolve into formlessness, and I am left permeated by a sense of silence.  Nothing exists except the presence of my own Self. 

The Form and Formlessness of God
The Self is transcendent and immanent -- beyond the universe, also within the universe.  This is why you can worship the form of God and the formlessness of God.  ~  Through the form you reach the formlessness of God.  Through something you reach nothing.  Swami  Chidvilasananda  December 13  Resonate With Stillness


Silence is the unsayable mystery, the very formlessness of God.  One can only speak of their experience of silence.  While I was visiting the Grand Canyon I witnessed myself experiencing the act of perception in a state of Silence.  click here, see Story #1   In all the great religious traditions the saints have spoken of their lived experience, their constant conscious experience the Self, which is silence.  The words of Gurumayi and Baba Muktananda are luminous with the lived experience, the true knowledge, of silence.  

The Stillness of Your Soul
Both matter and Consciousness arise from silence, the silence of God, the silence of Light.  The same profound silence exists in minerals, plants, and oceans.  It also exists at the core of every living being.  From silence comes all growth and development.  It is here, in silence, that the search for knowledge culminates.  When you become immersed in the stillness of your soul, you understand everything.  Swami Chidvilasananda  August 11     Resonate With Stillness      


Below, I have presented some photographs that for me are vibrant with the pulsating presence of Silence, and I have provided a collection of text excerpts from two Siddha Yoga publications.  First, from Gurumayi's book The Yoga of Discipline I have quoted from the chapter entitled "The State of Shimmering Consciousness" in which she addresses the Discipline of Silence.  The entire book is an extraordinary series of teachings on several disciplines.  I encourage you to read the entire chapter on silence to better understand the larger context from which my selections were taken, and then you may want to read the entire book to better understand the larger context from which the chapter on Silence was taken..    

Secondly, I have presented some excerpts from Resonate with Stillness, a book of brief daily contemplations on twelve themes of spiritual life.  Each day of the year is represented by  profound teachings of Swami Muktananda and Swami Chidvilasanda taken from their talks and writings, many of which have not been published elsewhere.   

Welcome to Silence.  And I invite you to join me in the forthcoming chapters: Light, Time, Seeing, and the Heart.   

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The Yoga of Discipline
Swami Chidvilasananda
The Discipline of Silence 

The State of Shimmering Consciousness  
Only a seeker who has been able to silence all his senses is worthy of beholding the splendor of God. . .  The Ashtavakra Samhita takes a very interesting approach to the discipline of silence:  "First, one should become detached from physical action, then from talking, then from thinking.  In this way, one abides in the Self."

Right away, you understand from this verse why you should observe silence--so that you can experience the Self,  so that you can abide in the Self, so that you can see the face of God and know God, so that you can experience that great love. 

This silence is not an inert state of the body but the state of shimmering Consciousness, the state of supreme bliss, the bubbling of ecstasy.  When you see the birch trees with the wind blowing through the leaves, they shimmer.  They shake tenderly yet fiercely.  Nevertheless, as you watch this shimmering Consciousness, your mind becomes very still.  It becomes ecstatic.  It experiences silence.  

It is when you become completely silent that you are able to absorb knowledge.  In silence you hear the songs of the birds.  In silence you hear the message of the Truth.  In silence you hear the sounds of the stars and the voice of the inner Self.  It is in silence that you hear the voice of the earth.  God speaks in silence.

The discipline of silence is essential on the yogic path.  And it is also part of what you find at the goal.  When you realize the Supreme, you melt into silence.  

So the silence we are talking about is not a flat state of mind; it is very full.  You dwell in the golden womb of the cosmic energy.  

Silence.  ~  All the scriptures say silence is the state that overcomes the mind at that moment when it encounters the vision of the Truth.  When the mind has the vision of the Truth, it falls into deep silence, it melts into silence.

This silence . . .  In this state, you are all-knowing, you are free. . . your entire being scintillates with Consciousness.  Your entire being is immersed in the ecstasy  of the Self.  

Experiencing the silence that lies behind every action, within every word, and at the center of every thought is a sublime form of sadhana.  Silence is the sadhana of the Siddhas.

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Resonate With Stillness 

From the words of
Swami Muktananda
Swami Chidvilasananda


The Pulse of Deep Silence  
In each one of us, there is a place of perfect silence.  ~  This silence is not dead.  It vibrates.  You can find it on the stony peaks of high mountains where the stillness echoes, or at the bottom of deep, empty wells in the deafening quiet.  ~  In the same way, within every one of us there is a deep silence, and it has a pulse.  It is the force of this silence that drives a seeker to go within so that he can become established in his true nature . . .   Swami  Chidvilasananda  December 17  Resonate With Stillness

Turn Within To the Stillness of the Soul 
There is only one way to attain higher knowledge, the knowledge of supreme Consciousness, which we call God.  In fact, there is only one way to attain anything of meaning, and that is to turn within to the stillness of the soul.  This is the message of all the saints from all cultures and traditions.  The simple truth is that nothing else will work.  You have to turn within.  So slow down and look inside.  Swami Muktananda  July 10     Resonate With Stillness

When the Mind Rests In the Heart
. . . as long as the mind does not rest in the heart, it gives birth to illusory worlds, illusory concepts.  ~  An untrained mind is constantly agitated.  Everything it thinks is colored by limited ideas.  It is like a butterfly fluttering in a closed bottle: wherever the wings touch, they leave their color on the glass, creating their own impressions.  This is the state of an agitated mind.  ~  However, when the mind rests in the heart, all barriers break down, and it experiences the immense Consciousness.  All latent impressions then fade into nothingness.  Therefore, it is the duty of a seeker to bring the mind continually back to its source.  Swami  Chidvilasananda   March 18    Resonate With Stillness

In Silence You Can Hear the Stars Speak   
Once you experience the inner silence you never feel empty, because in the inner silence you can hear the stars speak, you can hear the voice of the water, you can hear the voice of the great Self.  You can hear and you understand.  Swami  Chidvilasananda  December 18  Resonate With Stillness

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This part 6 of the Yoga & Photography project was announced in 
the "Latest Addition" section of my websites's Welcome Page
on August 16-17  2015, the anniversary date of my 
Shaktipat Intensive with Gurumayi
--August 15-16, 1987--


Welcome Page  to The Departing Landscape website which includes the complete hyperlinked listing of my online photography projects dating back to the 1960's, my resume, contact information, and more.