Loud Silence

There once was a monastery that was very strict. Following a vow of silence, no one was allowed to speak at all. But there was one exception to this rule. Every ten years, the monks were permitted to speak just two words. After spending his first ten years at the monastery, one monk went to the head monk. "It has been ten years," said the head monk. "What are the two words you would like to speak?"

"Bed... hard..." said the monk.

"I see," replied the head monk.

Ten years later, the monk returned to the head monk's office. "It has been ten more years," said the head monk. "What are the two words you would like to speak?"

"Food... stinks..." said the monk.

"I see," replied the head monk.

Yet another ten years passed and the monk once again met with the head monk who asked, "What are your two words now, after these ten years?"

"I... quit!" said the monk.

"Well, I can see why," replied the head monk. "All you ever do is complain."

How wonderfully intriguing is a vow of silence...to abstain from such a time-honored pursuit, a comfort taken for granted...

An honorable endeavour, I think , that more people should consider.

However, if you're like me, and have a family , or occasional friends that require verbal reciprocation, even the 20 minutes of ante-jentacular oil-pulling can seem like a challenge some mornings...

But alas, all is not lost!

Ruminating on this virtuous task, it seems to me that we find ourselves in the position of trying to make the tail wag the dog, hoping for mental silence by merely abnegating speech... has that ever worked for anyone?

Genuine vows of silence live in our mind ... of which words are merely symptoms.

I have the feeling that our monk friend didn't quite grasp the point, failing to reap the advantages of his venture...holding his mental baggage for years...that's strength indeed, but of the wrong kind. Surely when medium is scarce, one should make the most of it ; and positive feedback , or constructive insight should take precedent over trivialities.

The mind is a good servant, but a bad master , and left to its own devices, it can take control and become a bossy, judgmental, chattering monkey.

How do you deal with a chattering monkey?

Well , I don't know about yours, but mine is fairly trained to make certain inquiries before indulging into speech, and it's very possible that you've heard them before (other great minds have thought them as well):

Before you speak, ask yourself:

-Is it true, is it kind , is it necessary?

Also, does it improve on the silence?

These questions trim my speech to a certain degree ( I'm not loquacious by nature), and simplify my life a great deal.

Talking uses a great expenditure of energy - of which we have a limited amount, and sometimes, there are better ways to spend it than give in to mere bavardage*.

Verbal communication can be such a rewarding form of art, it's fun and useful when practiced with mindfulness; and as all good things, when used in moderation.

There's a lot to say about common sense too, but that's for another time.

Is a vow of silence on your bucket list ?

I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions !



" “He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.”

Lao Tzu

*bavardage = foolish or empty chatter

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Pipersville, PA



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