The foundation for this community was laid during my brief encounter with a shirtless baba on the ghats of the Ganges in 2013, while I was visiting Varanasi, India. Despite his poor physical condition, the baba had an indescribable aura, as if a thousand suns were shining on him.

I offered him a small donation. To my surprise, he politely declined. “You don’t need money?” I asked. He replied with a smile. “No, son.” Puzzled, I asked how I could help him otherwise. His reply was one word: “Silence.” I immediately thought I had offended him and started to apologize.

He shook his head and said, “It amazes me how the word silence carries a negative meaning, and that it is a foreign term to most people.” He paused before continuing. “Silence is the most-needed resource in today’s world, and yet no one seems to know anything about it.”

Intrigued, I sat on the steps drinking chai with this simple and humble man for a couple of hours. During those two hours, we talked for what felt like ten minutes. The rest of the time we just sat there in silence, and it didn’t feel awkward. I still remember that encounter as if it happened just yesterday. It touched my soul.

As I’m an engineer and a finance geek, my mind is analytical by nature. I tried to make rational sense of what I had just experienced—but it seemed it couldn’t be explained with logic.

The next evening, I sat on those same steps contemplating what the baba had said. I thought about how I had met countless individuals who had many more possessions than this man ever would. Yet somehow, his sense of contentedness was unbelievably greater than anything I’d ever felt. I never found the baba again, but his words still echo in my ears today. Needless to say, the encounter changed my life forever.

Almost a couple of months later, back in my office, I was still thinking about that evening and came to a conclusion that I have been listening a lot but I haven’t really listened. So I decided that I would invite the profound presence of silence into my personal life. Since then, I have been regularly immersing myself in this deep ocean.

Today, I am much more conscious and grateful than I’ve ever been. I’m in a place where my thoughts and priorities are aligned with my inner peace and happiness. Through my own practice of silence and, more importantly, by recognizing its positive impact on the quality of my personal, spiritual, work, and social life, it became clear to me that there was a need for an international community—a community that believed in, supported, and promoted the power and practice of silence. A community inspired to create a more peaceful, conscious, and beautiful world.