The Silent Retreat

How we come across few hurdles on our paths.

Four monks once decided to meditate silently without speaking for two weeks. They began with enthusiasm and no one said a word the whole day. By nightfall of the first day, the candle began to flicker and then went out. 
The first monk blurted out, “Oh, no! The candle is out.” 
The second monk said, “Hey! We are not supposed to speak!” 
The third monk said in an irritated voice, “What is this? Why did you two break the silence?” 
The fourth monk smiled and said, “Wow! I’m the only one who hasn’t spoken.”

What can one learn from this ?

Each monk broke his silence for a different reason, these are the stumbling block in our inner journey: distraction, judgement, anger and pride.
The first monk got distracted by one aspect of his experience (the candle) and forgot what was more important – the practice of witnessing without reacting. If we don’t have a well defined goal and a purpose we are highly unlikely to reach it. In the day of internet we see lot of distractions and set to achieve everything we find cool without thinking twice if we need it.

The second monk was more worried about others following the rules than in actually practicing himself. He was quick to judge without noticing that he himself was guilty of what he was criticizing. If there is one thing we can’t stop is criticizing others, yes we need to sometimes call out the wrong actions, but we should only limit it to the actions which aren’t explicit. The greater introspection should be are also guilty of such actions and if we find ourselves in such situation , will we act differently ? Practicing what we preach will go long way, one must remember its the actions that will lead us to our goals.

The third monk let his anger towards the first two monks affect him. The singular burst of anger ruined the effort of the day. Impulses are like dynamites , when burst can cause a lot of damage. A single burst of anger can undo years of good work. This is akin to a clay pot, the potter takes a lot of time to select the clay, mold it with the finesse , bake it and make it durable and usable. However , a single blow of stick can break the earthen pot. Here the blow of stick is out outburst to anger. A single detrimental can undo all our efforts and we should be mindful.

The fourth monk lost his way because of pride. He was convinced he was superior to the others, proving his ignorance. 
Why did the fourth monk speak at all? He could have simply maintained his silence and he would have been successful in his endeavor. But if he had, chances are, the other three might have continued to argue and not even noticed his silence. Our aim should be always to better ourselves than to compete with others, indeed this shouldn’t be a reason to develop lacuna to work. When we compete with others we lose a chance to set upon ourselves a higher standard. Making ourselves better one day at a time and better person than yesterday will take us a long way.

“It is the province of knowledge to speak; it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.”

Once learn to be not be perturbed with distraction, judgement, anger and pride, then we understand the true meaning of silence.

One thought on “The Silent Retreat

  1. Loved the writing style. Crisp, clean and to the point. I liked the content too which is contemporary to the society which we live in, in this hyper connected world, creating ripples of negativity everywhere.


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