I began writing this Forward on New Year's Eve. That afternoon, I had been reading the report of a man who went to Antartica to compose music. In the constant whiteness there, with no sun-down, his days were marked out by certain reassuring regularities: meteorological observations to be made, supply-flights to await, the distant wings of an occasional bird. Above all, he mentions the unearthly silence (his reason for going): an absence of sound beyond any normal quiet -- a silence so total that he can hear his own heart, and even the constant drone of blood coursing through his body.
That Antartica report captured my imagination, and it seemed good to weave it into this Forward; for anything written here must, if it is to serve, be some form of silence.
If the stark and pristine beauty of the earth's poles is one haunting kind of silence, then another kind occurs at the pole of the year: times like this New Year's Eve -- a temporary silencing of the usual routine, allowing us to celebrate the end of one 'year' and invite a new one still unknown. But beyond these, there is another kind of welcome Silence, and that is what this book points to, and comes from.
I am no stranger to writing, and yet I find writing this Forward strangely difficult. This is not an ordinary kind of book. Furthermore, its significance to me personally is no ordinary matter. Therefore, I feel daunted. Lover of words as I am, my keyboard falls silent! At the same time, some readers will surely look for background or context, and so something must be written here. Where then does one start?
Historical or circumstantial background is irrelevant to what this book contains. In the same way, in the moment when we are first introduced to a person, we naturally launch into conversation with pleasantries about jobs or weather -- irrelevant as those things might be to a relationship which, coming into being at that moment, may ultimately rest on something far deeper than any exchange of facts. In that self-conscious spirit therefore, I launch in with the following awkward (and ultimately irrelevant) ice-breaking sentences.
Some thousands of years ago in India (but it had no time or place of beginning), there arose something whose power and Truth has reached to this new millenium of ours and (indirectly one could say) into my own life. That "something" might be identified in the Vedic scriptures and philosophy, but that is merely a dry and academic way to put it. For me this has been no academic matter. Indeed, only afterwards did I hear of such things as Advaita Vedanta. Certainly the author of Heart Whispers would not describe himself as an Advaitist, or anythingist! And what is in this book is not Indian, nor does it have any nationality whatsoever.
I guess "Advaita" has the merit merely of being a known word to some, and to others an unfamiliar word which creates (with luck!) an inviting air of mystery. Does the word mean any more than that to me? Here is my answer. My mind (like any other) has countless powers and uses in this life, but it is forever powerless to explain life itself. Through the process of thought, we divide and distinguish things, usually in pairs: good and bad, here and there, you and me, and so on. But dividing what is one, into two or more, is ultimately false. The truth of this instant, of this presence right now, lies totally and for ever beyond the mind to own. This I have come to know and see and feel, directly from the author of this book: from Wayne Austin. This I have come to know for myself, as no obvious platitude or tautology, and beyond any mere theory.
For me, the water drawn from this well is that "living water" for which thirsted a certain "woman of Samaria" who once came to draw water at noon. To speak more plainly, I wish to inform all readers that this book's author is a living Teacher.
Some will be interested to hear that Wayne's own revered Teacher is Gangaji, and, through her, Papaji and Ramana Maharshi. Others, to whom these are just names, will perhaps be more interested in practicalities: Wayne Austin's Teaching (of which this book is a written sample) is for the most part not a written occurrence, but rather a dynamic and intimate one, and is freely given. It currently takes place through the medium of that commonplace miracle which we call "the internet", and also through Gatherings bringing together those who love both the Teaching and the Teacher -- times in which the nameless presence of Love itself becomes palpable -- times when the querulous and questioning voice of the mind falls blessedly into Peace.
If the mind lays down its arms, what remains to be heard? The front of this book offers a clue: what remains to be heard is the whispering of the Heart. Perhaps not heart in an anatomical or sentimental sense! Rather it is that Heart which is a constant and immovable Core and Background: the Source of all experience and of this apparent 'universe' itself. It must be that Love is the sole initial Source of all reality (what other could there be?), and so the word "Heart" is a good one here.
Wayne Austin's Teaching is of the Heart. The vehicle of his Teaching, and its embodiment, has long gone under the title "End Of The Search". A strange title perhaps, but let me have recourse once more to the polar image. Antartica is a place where there is no more South: indeed where there is no South at all. If I stand at the exact Antartic pole, then there is no direction that is South. If I move in any direction at all, I only move away from South. Similarly the End of all our searching is exactly here, and now. It always was. It always will be. Any effort I make (of explanation or seeking) can only move me away from that Still point (or seem to).
I wish to speak plainly again: my own life has changed utterly, not in surface detail, but in what underlies it. If I had to express what I have 'gained' in a single word (an arbitrary exercise if ever there was one!) then I would return to my opening theme: Silence. I have come to know a Silence that is not the absence of sound. It includes all sounds, and motion too, and every sound and motion is only another facet of this constant Silence and eternal Stillness.
And in the quiet of the mind -- when my mind lays down its unceasing round of interpretation -- in that brief, blessed and intermittent pause, I can hear another constant: the constant whispering of the Heart. And the Truth, which the Heart is constantly whispering, can be expressed in the words of this book's author -- my Teacher -- which he spoke to me as follows: All is well, you are already Home; you are Home Itself.