Advanced Buddhism: Silence is not Violence

Buddhism in Bhutan

Words once spoken cannot be taken back. Actions once committed cannot be retracted. Silence is better than violence. But this contradicts one of the slogans of the Black Lives Matter movement, of course, that ‘Silence is Violence,’ which, no matter how much I sympathize with that movement, is simply mistaken, as a matter of fact, and definition, not opinion nor political orientation. Of course the BLM people were not thinking of meditative silence, so we’re discussing apples and oranges, really, no matter that silence is strictly still silence, no matter the circumstance. Emptiness is another matter. When the Russian figure skater said she felt ‘empty,’ she wasn’t talking about shunyata, I don’t think.

It’s almost hard to believe now, but not so long ago, to ‘break the silence’ was a symbol of progress, the buzz of saws and the whir of wheels almost synonymous with the concept of progress, in fact. This was largely due to the influence of the Industrial Revolution, of course, the effects of which are still being calculated each and every day, though now perhaps in a more negative sense, given its almost single-handed cause of what we call Global Warming. Global Warmongering began long before and was probably far more brutal than anything that we can even imagine today, whole villages and towns raided and leveled for the lack of ability to hold ground against the superior technology—horses.     

So, silence is the way of Buddhism, in more ways than one. Not only is it the foundation of meditation, bit it is the right hand to shunyata, the Emptiness that underlies all existence, the vessel that contains the stuff that we associate with reality, but which isn’t, not really. The vessel is more real than all the stuff inside, whether we call it that or call it light and gravity, or another quark for Mister Mark. The point is that there are things more fundamental to reality than all the stuff we see every day. And silence is more fundamental than all the noise we create. On a more personal level, you don’t need to be aggressive to show displeasure. I recommend the silent treatment. It’s better than the violent treatment.