Sunday, October 23, 2016

hey, baby, wanna get silent together?

Once the preserve of monastic retreats and hardcore meditators, simply being quiet is growing in appeal. Whole businesses have sprung up to meet a rising demand for quiet time, from silent weekend getaways to silent dining, silent reading parties and even silent dating. This month sees the release of documentary In Pursuit of Silence, a “meditative film” about our relationship with noise, promoted with a delicate two-minute trailer in which not a word is uttered.


  1. The Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra "offers us two dramatic and contrasting moments of silence. The first of these [is] the silence of Śāriputra", who is rendered silent during an exchange with a goddess:

    "Śāriputra abandons speech too quickly, after all. He has been asked a question in a particular context [...] to refuse to speak at such a point is neither an indication of wisdom, nor a means of imparting wisdom, but at best a refusal to make progress [...] Śāriputra's failed silence is but a contrastive prelude to Vimalakīrti's far more articulate silence." ~ J L Garfield

    Vimalakīrti remains silent while discussing the subject of emptiness with an assembly of bodhisattvas. The bodhisattvas give a variety of answers on the question what non-duality is. Manjusri is the last bodhisattva to answer, and says that "by giving an explanation they have already fallen into dualism". Vimalakirti, in his turn, answers with silence. With this emphasis on silence the Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra served as a forerunner of the approach of the Ch'an/Zen tradition, with its avoidance of positive statements on 'ultimate reality':

    "The Zen tradition is avowedly the Buddhism of Vimalakirti's silence—a claim that is explicitly reinforced by the practice of silent meditation." ~ Luis O' Gomez

  2. A sleepful night is quiet and dark. And then comes morning all noisy and bright. Who wouldn't rather sleep?