Hear no Evil’ – बुरा ना सुनो (February 2016)
Continuing on the theme we started last month, ‘Hear no Evil’ (बुरा ना सुनो) is the topic of this month. “What is hearing?” “How do we hear?” “What is evil?” “Is evil some other person who is always contriving to do others harm?” “Is it someone or something up close and personal?” these are some of the questions kids will reflect on for this month’s assignment.
Let’s start with the notion of hearing and hearing faculties. At surface, it may seem that these are trivial questions. After all, who doesn’t know what sound and hearing are: sound is vibration that travels [mostly] through air, ear is the organ that gathers sound vibration and sends impulses to brain, and hearing is the act of perceiving sound. But hold on, is hearing all about that? If hearing was only that then we would always understand what our ears can hear. However, we all have experiences when we didn’t understand a word others uttered. Even though we “heard” the sound, our brain didn’t register a thing – why? It is because our brain was busy listening to another sound: it is the sound of our inner voice.
While brain is always listening to our inner voice, this voice does not travel to brain through the traditional path: sound sensory organ, ear. This inner voice is called self-talk, which we are talking to ourselves within our brain. Even though no one other than our brain can hear it, it is very loud and chatty. And when it becomes too loud, we do not hear or understand physical sounds around us.
So, it is clear that our brain is always listening to outside and inner voices. When it comes to controlling the type of words/sounds we hear, we need to be aware of both types of voices – more so of internal voice than external voice/sound.
With the topic being ‘hear no evil’, now the question is ‘is there an evil sound?’ Yes, it is the sound that brings negativity, disturbances, and degradation of thoughts. When a person watches violent movies, plays video games with curse words, or listens to music with inappropriate words, the sounds in these activities disturb the listener’s mind. When a person hangs out in a group where people often talk low, pass harsh comments, or unnecessarily criticize others, sounds from such activities bring negativity in listener’s life. One must not think that he/she can continue to be engaged in such experiences without having a lasting – and sometimes permanent – impact on his/her thinking.
How can we avoid evil sound? First and foremost is to avoid unsuitable sounds by being watchful of what we allow to enter through our ears: by avoiding movies, songs, video games, and company that we consider unsuitable. That’s one of the most effective approaches. However, sometimes it is not possible to avoid such encounters. In those scenarios, the next level of defense is one’s inner voice. We need to make our inner voice so strong though conviction and clear thinking that it can nullify the negative impact of inappropriate external sound feeds. A person with a loud and clear sound of self-talk will not let any disgraceful sound settle in his/her mind.
Last but not least, in the Mantra तच्चक्षुर्देवहितम् पुरस्ताच्छुक्रमुच्चरत्…, which we recite in every Hawan, there is a prayer for long life and healthy hearing faculty to hear God’s glory for over one hundred years.
As usual, I am looking forward to hearing enlightening explanation of this topic by kids at the upcoming Hawan.