Silence & the art of meditation
LET US approach these subjects as if we are looking at the lives of two strangers who board a one-way train which doesn’t return. One of them has a ticket to the last station and the other takes him beyond the final destination, on a journey with no known ending.
They sit happily in their silence but are aware of everything happening along the journey.
They are both rare passengers as one is going to the last station which is not a destination favoured by anyone — maybe because no one lives there or it is simply the fear that if you miss it then the train may never stop or return. But, possibly, there’s another reason — that you need to be alert to get off the train or else you are lost to the world for ever.
It takes a certain confidence in your own alertness to buy the ticket to the last station.
And we aren’t sure if the other passenger is for real or human because he has a ticket to nowhere. He will go wherever this train goes; no one knows where the tracks are headed to after the last station and no one knows for how long that journey will be as no one has ever come back to tell the story.
The train itself is a write off. We don’t know who made the tracks or what happens there. All we know is that the train never returns.
These two passengers I allude to are an artist — the legendary Paul Cezanne — and the spiritual colossus Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Maharshi means ‘the great seer’, one who can ‘see’ the truth and is therefore considered a creator in the sense of “you create what you see.” The word ‘rsh’ also means to flow, to be in a state of ecstasy.
Cezanne has said “art has a harmony which parallels that of nature. People who tell you that the artist is inferior to nature are idiots. He is parallel, unless of course, he deliberately intervenes. His aim must be silence. He must silence all the voices of prejudice within him and forget. Then the entire landscape will engrave itself on the sensitive plate of his being.”
On the other hand, Ramana Maharshi has said that when one remains without thinking one understands another by means of the universal language of silence.
So, are art and meditation any different? What were the different drives of the two who boarded the train? What made them choose their respective destinations?
Both Ramana Maharshi and Cezanne lived at a time when a new era of speed and action, of rapid advancements in science and technology was taking birth. Three new inventions happened then which changed the way people perceived the world — the locomotive, the camera and the cinema.
For Cezanne the train was an eye that could capture an image of an object from many angles at the same time.
But an eye he seems to have internalised in his many sojourns between his home and Paris.
He could see the beautiful Mont Sainte Victorie, a mountain he would have an enduring attachment to and he would paint over 60 times; never satisfied and always investigating.
Mastering perspective, proportion, illustration, colour and composition seem to have been enough for the best of the painters at that time. But not for Cezanne.
And that’s what we explore next week.
Bharat Thakur is a yoga guru and spiritual mentor who delves into his
vast ascetic and worldly experiences to bring life to
his canvases. will