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not a word

Baba Hari Dass, the spiritual leader of the center that provided space for us to meet and meditate last week (see previous two posts) has not spoken in 59 years. Yet he’s written books (on a computer presumably), is available to anyone — be they guests or residents — on three days each week, and has been the central force behind the establishment and spiritual teacher of a thriving community that offers formal yoga training and a master’s program in ayurvedic medicine.

During the orientation session on Day One we were told that if we were to approach Babaji at any time we were to follow an “ancient protocol based on Indian spiritual practice” 🙂 by walking up to him and say “Hi.

I observed him sitting in a large chair in the midst of the dining room’s hubbub on several occasions: people would come up, sit down without any formality, listen in, quietly speak to each other, and, from time to time, address him directly. Leaning his head on one hand and then the other, he would nod and smile and, if needed, jot a word or two on a small white board. One of the people sitting nearby would read out his comment — all without fuss or formality. Especially young people — they’ve been running an accredited private K-12 school program for years — were drawn to him with ease.

Naturally, the thought has occurred how I might make it through the day without saying a word. Okay, maybe a day if I kept a low profile, stayed at home, and avoided social situations. But what about a week? or a months? An interesting proposition to practice Right Speech without speaking.


One response »

  1. Peter thank you for your post. Being with someone who is regaining his speech due to a stroke, I have found that much can be eloquently communicated with little-to-no speech. But the joy of freely conversing with voice included is a gift that is a pleasure to choose – or not. There is something special about deciding when including voice or words actually adds something to the communication rather than because it is taken for granted or because we unknowingly feel speech must be included.


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