By Jenny Keating
Whether to observe silence or not on Silence Day is often discussed amongst Baba lovers here in Sydney, with varying points of view being expressed.
Having grown up observing silence on Silence Day, I never considered there was any other option. As I understood, this was what Baba wanted of us. The alternatives were only if you felt you absolutely couldn’t manage it due to unavoidable commitments. But we knew that Baba’s preference was always for keeping silence. And that’s what we as a family did. I certainly didn’t enjoy it – how can you fight successfully with your siblings when you can’t talk? I found it too quiet, like life had come to a standstill, and it made me restless.
Now I love Silence Day – time out from the world. The chance to be quietly with Baba. I guess being older helps. And I feel it honors the sacrifice, which Baba’s beloved Mehera speaks of so poignantly: “Keeping silence all those years was most difficult for Baba. Baba’s nature was happy and cheerful. He loved to talk and to laugh and to sing, but after silence Baba could not say anything. . . All those years Baba had to hold back and not say what He wanted to say. Every second of the day, every minute, every day, every month, every year for forty-four years Baba could not say what He wanted to say.” (Mehera, p. 235)
Baba’s sister, Mani, also speaks of His sacrifice and our small gift to Him in keeping silent on this day:
“There should be no question in the minds of anyone [Baba lovers], whether we should observe silence or not. It is an opportunity that we should not let pass by! Every lover of Baba, to my mind, should observe silence on the 10th of July — Silence Day. You salute your Beloved Baba by giving Him a rose; you would not call that a routine or ritual. It is an expression of your love, a piece of your heart . . . Baba has observed silence for all — for each one of us — and if we cannot give that little response for one day — if we cannot keep our lips closed for one day of the year — then that’s too bad. I don’t feel that by keeping silence we are going to help the world or anything like that. That is not why we are doing it. It’s just a salute, in homage to His Love for us; an expression of our love for Him. Beloved Baba observed silence for all these years, and for one day He has ‘said’ we can share it with Him too. How blessed we are!”
One year I tried being silent at work, but this was followed by a heavy bout of flu, during which time I felt strongly that I wasn’t meant to work on this day. And from that time onward I considered July 10 (along with January 31 and February 25) as sacrosanct and would always take Leave without Pay and feel free from any obligation to my employers.
But recently, while reading Rustom Falahati’s volume V of The Real Treasure, I learnt something new about observing silence on Silence Day. In this volume, Rustom shares with us Eruch’s very clear response to all the questions and rationales about observing or not observing silence on Silence Day, with an additional angle that I had not given conscious thought to – that observing silence on Silence Day is one of Baba’s orders to His lovers, for posterity.
Rustom begins the chapter, “Observing Silence Day” by noting the following:
“There are many Baba lovers who are confused about whether silence is to be observed on the 10th July. Some feel it is optional. Others feel it’s a ritual and comes in their way of loving Baba with a pure heart. There are also those whose job required them to talk a lot and so felt it was not necessary, for Baba would understand their inability. Many such issues were raised with Eruch over the years and Eruch would patiently, but firmly, insist that one was expected to observe silence on that day.
“Giving a brief history Eruch would say: ‘There were various times in the early years where Baba did give His lovers in the world a choice of fasting on water instead of observing silence. However, toward the later years, Baba in His circular to the lovers emphasized that all His lovers should observe silence. He withdrew the option of fasting. No matter what the situation, one was expected to observe silence. It was His order and many of His lovers were often put in situations where they were tested. Those who truly loved Him underwent the hardships, but did not break Baba’s order. This was Baba’s order till the very end of His life. If someone accidentally speaks up – it’s okay, but on realizing his mistake, he should keep silence again and be more alert. . . the moment you realize the slip, stop immediately. Do not utter one more word. Use gestures or write on a note pad and show [it] to the person. All those who consider themselves Baba lovers are expected to do this.'”
Later in the chapter Rustom recounts one of his own experiences on Silence Day and Eruch’s further response:
“It was Baba’s order for all His lovers and applies even to this day. One can say – it was one of His few orders for posterity. In fact, there are very few orders He has left for His lovers in the world – and that too, it’s only for a day. Your friend appearing on the bus was Baba’s way of testing your resolve to obey Him. In obedience, one is often tested. . .”.
And up until a short time ago, I felt I had heard all that I needed to hear on this subject. But no, I found very recently another interesting angle, this time provided by Kitty Davy in one of her talks from One Fine Thread. She is responding to Baba’s reference to internal and external silence: “. . . by keeping external silence we are helping to awaken internal silence. And the value of internal silence is that in profound inner Silence, Baba is found. . . If we give Baba the Silence of our minds, He supplies us with His Love and Presence needed to hear that Inner Silence.”
Published July, 2017.