Sunday, November 16, 2008

Aftermath of my retreat

is reflecting on silence:

All our contemporary thinking about silence sees it as an absence or a lack of speech or sound - a totally negative condition. But Sara Maitland increasingly identified an interior dimension to silence, a sort of stillness of heart and mind which is not a void but a rich space.

Silence resists attempts to explain it. Indeed, ineffability is one of the key tests of mystical experience. I might even say that the "best" hermits are those who have least to say about it. The only thing Tenzin Palmo, a British Buddhist nun who spent three years high in the Himalayas in radical silence, seems ever to have said - at least publicly - about her personal experience is, "Well, it wasn't boring."

1 comment:

Martha said...

Just did a weekend retreat with Tenzin Palmo in Albuquerque. She says the point of all these practices is to make you a better person, and if you want to know if you're getting somewhere ask your family.

And then there's Annie Dillard: "But what was solitude for if not to foster decency?" in The Maytrees.

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