Silence is the Great Teacher: Achieve Freedom from the Mind

Posted on November 4th, by Dr. Puff in Articles. No Comments

As we journey through life we spend a lot of our time in the pursuit of things which we believe will bring us happiness, joy and peace of mind.

For example, when I was at Princeton working on my Masters degree, I had a friend who was really in love with a woman and he felt that if he got her to marry him, he would be in a state of eternal bliss and happiness. What happened was that he did end up marrying her. About five or 10 years later I called him just to see how things were going. Life was going on and he was doing okay, but his deep passion and love for his wife had clearly dissipated. He still loved her, but her bringing him bliss had clearly gone away and he was in pursuit of other things to bring him happiness and joy in life.

As together we are exploring the world of enlightenment, one of the things that is really helpful towards realization is earnestness. When we earnestly pursue the truth, the ultimate truth, we’re forced to acknowledge that anything the mind can conceive is impermanent. It changes, just like my friend. The love he felt for his wife got transposed. In his case, it was for his passion for work. He thought that love would last forever, but it changed. Anything the mind creates is going to change, because of its impermanence. So this can’t be the answer to fulfillment.

If the mind is impermanent, then there can’t be any solutions to our desires found in the mind. But, if we take on the attitude of having no desires, in other words this is a desireless approach to living or as I say, just being still, present and loving the right here and now, in that desireless living life becomes a beautiful experience.

We begin to find that life is beautiful. In a sense, by choosing no desires we gain all our desires. Or perhaps, a better way to state this is to say that we gain the ultimate desire of freedom from the mind. Freedom from all desires creates beauty, bliss and words beyond description. Life becomes beautiful when we let go of every desire, because every desire we hang onto will ultimately cause suffering. If we let go of these desires, what we’re left with is the now, the silent present awareness of now. This is a wonderful, beautiful experience.

It isn’t that our pursuit of happiness is the problem. The problem is that we aim too low. If we look for the ultimate truth, then we have to look within. Who is the teacher? We are. Ultimately, in that silent awareness of just being, watching thoughts, watching desires, but not identifying with them, we find that the teacher, the ultimate teacher, is our inner self, otherwise known as the “I am.”

The wonderful thing I love about enlightenment is that it’s so fair. You don’t need to have intelligence, you don’t need to have academic degrees, you don’t need to be famous and you don’t need to be rich. All you need to be in order to find the ultimate truth is still and present. In this presence and stillness, everything we’re looking for is right there. This happens because when we let go of everything and identify with the ultimate reality which is beingness, we find everything that we’re looking for. Everything is there in the silent awareness, so just be.

Instead of following our desires all day long, let’s just watch them arise and get back to what’s happening right now. What will happen is that they’ll dissipate. They’ll disappear and our mind will be quiet again. The next thought or desire will arrive. We will witness it, acknowledge it, but then we’ll return to just being. It’s not that these thoughts or desires ever completely dissipate, but it’s just that we don’t give any energy to them. We don’t give any fuel to them so they burn out. Again, another fire may come up and because we don’t add fuel to it, it will burn out. What happens is that we learn to be still and present. We really get in touch with who we are. We start identifying with our true self instead of our full self. We realize just how untrue all the thinking and desires really are. They are not who we are. Instead, in this beautiful silence and beautiful awareness, we discover who we are and all is well.

Any of us can have this. All we need to do is be still and live now. Meditation is a wonderful way to learn to silence the mind and to be present. But if we really want to truly experience the ultimate reality and bliss of who we are, throughout the day we have to stay within that meditative practice of witnessing our thoughts, watching our desires, and getting back to just being.

This was the most beautiful lesson that my teacher taught me. I was becoming very good at meditating, but until I learned to live a meditative life, life continued to be a struggle. Once I learned to be present and to watch my thoughts even while my eyes were awake and open, then my mind became quieter and something happened. It didn’t happen to me, but it just happened that there was a discovery of who I am. And who I am was far, far greater than my mind could imagine. Once the mind is still, we get back to being who we are.

I really like the analogy of seeing ourselves as a water droplet in an ocean that’s infinite. When we let go and quiet our minds, it’s like the shell or bubble around us that makes us identify with being the water droplet dissipates, and we being to identify with the vast, infinite ocean. It’s not that we disappear as the water droplet; it’s just that we see that we are the water droplet but we are also the vast ocean. It’s a beautiful existence between the two. When we live life that way, life is beautiful.

Resource Box:
Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, international speaker, and meditation expert who has been counseling individuals, families, nonprofits, and businesses for over twenty years. A contributing writer to Psychology Today, he has authored numerous books and creates a weekly podcast on happiness at He also creates a weekly podcast on meditation, and a weekly podcast on spiritual enlightenment, His retreat schedules can be found at You also might find his blog useful at If you are interested in having Dr. Puff speak to your organization or company, you can learn more about his speaking services at

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