Silence is not the absence of sound

Meditation - Photo by Vaticanus
Meditation - Photo by Vaticanus

One day, the master and his disciples sat in silent meditation in the monastery.

Suddenly, a loud clatter rang through the halls as the cook’s assistant tripped and dropped a number of empty pans he was bringing to the kitchen.

The disciples were all disturbed from their meditation and expressed their irritation by muttering and frowning. But when they looked at the master, he seemed as relaxed and calm as ever.

“How could you maintain your silence and meditation amidst the noise a while ago?” asked a few disciples later.

The master replied, “You must understand, my friends, that silence is not the absence of sound. Silence is the absence of self.”

The Rock

The people of the village always approached the master when they had troubling questions. He would always listen and respond to each in a way that brought great understanding and enlightenment.

There was only one topic that he would avoid and that was the topic of God. When people would begin to ask, “Is there a God?” or “Why is God so unfair?” and so on, he would excuse himself and walk away from the conversation.

Then someone asked him, “Why is it that when people start asking you about God, you refuse to answer them?”

“Do you see that rock there by the tree?” said the master.

“Yes,” replied the man.

“Can you tell me why it exists — what is its purpose for being?” said the master.

“Um…no,” said the man.

“Then I trust I have answered your question,” finished the master.

White Lily

The disciples were gathered in the hall. The master, who was very old, was supposed to give his final address and name his successor.

photo courtesy of brendan.lally, Flickr
photo courtesy of brendan.lally, Flickr

In a few moments the the master walked in and the disciples’ idle chatter died down as they looked at the old man walking slowly up the dais. He carried a white lily blossom in his hand and looked at it intently. He didn’t look up to meet the eyes of his disciples. He didn’t utter a single word. He just looked at the lily for a very long time.

The disciples started to whisper and murmur among themselves. What does this mean? Some speculated that the master had finally gone mad. Still others debated on the symbolism and significance of the white lily.

There was one disciple, however, who just stood in a corner while the others were murmuring among themselves. He just stood there staring at the master. After a while, he began to giggle. And then when he couldn’t contain himself any longer, he gave out a big belly laugh. He laughed so hard that tears came to his eyes.

The master finally looked away from the flower and into the eyes of the disciple who had laughed. The master gestured for him to come.

When the disciple came, the master smiled as he handed the flower to him. Then he walked away from the hall, never to return.

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