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.”