Friday, January 23, 2009

The Power of Silence

I have a good friend who is an epitome of silence. It is not that she is a recluse but actively participates in conversations, puts across her views where necessary and mostly listens. She is aware that the virtue of silence is not in remaining mute, but speaking only when necessary. She is different from many who revel in monopolising conversations and in listening to their own voices. They indulge in empty talk speaking more than what the occasion or the question demands. It is not as measured and precise as is the case when we put our thoughts in writing. It is more a rambling thought process. It is always tempting to fill silent interludes with words whether necessary or not. Given a chance these long-winded people take over the conversation and do not allow others to express their opinion. They do not read the body languages or the non verbal clues of their listeners and keep talking not always relevant to the topic under discussion. I have seen people moving away when these bores join the group.

This set me thinking whether silence is a virtue and if it were so why this virtue is the most disregarded one.We should practice silence even amidst the busy surroundings. We need not talk continuously or give our opinion on all issues. It is enough if we listen unless required to speak out by the exigencies of office or situation. In fact silence is at times more powerful than spoken words. Such self effacing people as my friend command more respect than chatterboxes and are relied with confidences. In the midst of noises from loud talking, blaring music, honking of vehicles, all around us from all sources, there is a greater need for silence. In order to control one’s mouth and what one says requires great effort and achieved by very few. We cannot in search of silence rush to the forests or uninhabited places. We have to find the inner peace in the places where we live and work. Practising long periods of silence, although difficult initially, brings inner solace and peace. All the religions emphasise the importance of silence towards spiritual progess.It is only in the stillness and silence that there can be communion with the Ultimate. For this purpose meditation is practised to obtain this sense of tranquillity and inner calm. One can feel the powerful presence of God only in solitude which means keeping away from the distractions and noises of day to day life. Only “these two virtues, silence and solitude, enable us to transcend the emptiness of our life.” Prayer enables one to achieve this skill to drown the outer noises and sink into silence.

Silence is beneficial in many other ways. It prevents impulsive outbursts and the inevitable regrets later. It relieves the person from stressful situations and allows him to deliberate clearly and confidently on the issues. Those who practise silence turn out to be good listeners.

“The power of silence leads to a heightening of thought, of creativity and of understanding. It makes for a dynamic balance in our daily lives. For a few moments during, the day, let the world go by. In the words of revered Buddhist seeker, Lama Angarika Govinda: “You listen and hear the Silence /You listen and smell the Silence/You listen and taste the Silence/You listen and feel the embrace of the Silence.”


  1. Silence is indeed golden. It comes in handy in several situations where the same can be termed as dignified behaviour when not retorting to those trying to demean you.Its also most sought after for soul searching and a destresser.

    People who are generally regarded silent are ones who tend to observe a lot and are good listeners.And I've noticed they tend to get a little more respect than their talkative counterparts.
    Well written and quite thought provoking.

  2. A well-written post. Silence as giving space to another person, silence as meditation or "maun-vrata" for a purpose is indeed good. Silence as not giving a positive response to someone who is being good to you, silence as in being a mute spectator to injustice or silence to a friend's need for communication, is undesirable. My life was once saved by a person's kind words and so I know that words are important too.

    Even the posts and comments we write are not silence, but communiction. In your post on winning an argument with a spouse, you too have said that communication, not silence is needed. Best wishes.

  3. Silence can speak volumes!A very significant post for the many precious moments that are expressed in silence!

  4. Thanks Swetha,Ayesha and Sana for reading the post

  5. Your post talks volumes about effective communication.

    Noise is not sound, Quantity is not quality and
    Shouting does not mean being loud and clear

    At home we practice this everyday between 7:30 PM and 8 PM. This brings a lot of peace of mind, tranquility and a serene atmosphere.

    Great Post and your writing is Amazing and awesome.

  6. Wow! Wonderful thoughts sir. It creates a strong desire to practice silence. And it reminds me of Ramana maharishi, one of my favourite gurus, who was known for his profound Silence. For Him even teaching was dual, so he preferred to be silent,always as ONE.

    Much thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am inspired!

  7. Thanks.The Sage of Tiruvannamalai is my favourite and oft sought after source of inspiration.Silence speaks more forcefully than words.
    “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

  8. Thanks Girivasan. How I wish I were also able to practise regularly what you do.