Noble Silence – A Quiet and Peaceful Mind

The word “Noble Silence” is attributed to Gautama Buddha. Scriptures mention few occasions when Buddha remained silent when someone asked a questions. Some people interpreted his silence as Buddha did not know answers to some of these metaphysical questions.  Buddha observed Noble Silence when he knew that the questioner did not understand the significance of the question and thus would not be able to comprehend the answer. On other occasions, he knew that questions were wrongly put. Some of the questions asked were:

Is the universe eternal?

Is the soul the same as the body?

Does the Tathagata (Beyond All Coming and Going) exist after death?

Buddha knew that our understanding of the universe is only through our limited human experience and thus the depth and dimension of these questions could not be expressed in simple answers. On such occasion when he knew that the questioner could not fully comprehend the answer, he chose to observe Noble Silence. His silence was more meaningful than any discourse on them. Although, he gave answer to these deep queries when he was sure that questioner had a temperament and capability to comprehend the discourse. He was a compassionate and wise teacher and knew that answers will come through insight and self-reflection.

Silence is employed to quiet the mind and refrain from making hurtful speech. Silence is not simply absence of noise but it is much more than that. It is employed to quiet the mind and it is the stillness and quietness of mind which is much more observant of self and ultimately becomes aware and mindful of ultimate Truth. Hindu scriptures and saints emphasize the importance of introspection in a serene environment and cultivating habit of silence within. It is a place where our mind is empty of all thoughts, stress and inner conflicts and become involved in self-observation. If we start listening to our inner mind and get in touch with our core, something Real has a possibility of entering our life. Our lives become rich, joyful and blissful. It’s been said that Silence Is Golden. In silence, the soul shines light on elusive and deceptive Maya and reveals Truth to us. We are in constant quest for this Truth.

There is a belief that only saints or spiritual leaders can observe noble silence (mauna), but this is far from truth. People from all walks of life engage in this practice by refraining from speaking for few hours or a day. Mahatma Gandhi observed a day of absolute silence one day a week. It appears that it a difficult to be quiet but once one gets accustom to observing silence, it becomes as easy and effortless as taking a breath. After observing noble silence, one starts to feel contented and in self-control by removing all the extraneous distractions. All thoughts come to end and then there is absolute silence in mind, a mind that is not touched by outside world and become nonjudgmental and devoid of all anxiety, anger and other non-productive thoughts.

J Krishnamurty said “When there is silence, there must be space, immense space because there is no self. When there is space and silence, then something new can be attained that is untouched by time/thought. That may be most holy, most sacred.  When there is that, then there is intelligence and impassioned and love”. Silence helps preserve energy which can be directed towards spiritual awakening.  Truth is in silence not in the language that man has created.  And there is peace in silence.

Silence is language of God, all else is poor translation.


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