For those who want to experiment what is the practice of silence is about, it’s not necessarily that they have to be living in the forest or in a cave, as that can create many inconveniences, challenges and difficulties for the novice. They can experiment the practice of silence by attending a silent meditation retreat (not the commercialized luxury yoga retreat that emphasized on pleasurable enjoyment of the senses) at a dedicated retreat centre that provides the environment and facilities that allow people to be engaged in the practice of silence for a period of time – https://www.dhamma.org
For others who would like to observe silence in everyday life while living in a village or town or city, where one needs to look after one’s everyday living/livelihood and/or looking after other people under one’s care, it’s not possible to observe complete silence at home for a prolonged period of time, as one still have to be regularly engaging in the worldly activities of coming in contact with other people from time to time, to live everyday life of getting to work, or doing business, and getting to shops to get supplies for daily needs and feeding oneself and/or those under one’s care, and etc, though it’s still possible to observe a few hours of complete silence being away from stimulation of worldly activities of mind inputs and outputs of talking/outing/interacting/communicating/messaging/phoning/shopping/discussions/debates/worrying/physical fitness training/munching outside of basic meal times/playing musical instrument or games/reading news, magazines, or novels/listening to songs, music, talks or story telling/watching TV programs, advertisements, movies, shows performance, theater, or entertainments, and all forms of social contacts and activities during that few hours (even just for half an hour, if time and space constraint) when staying awake outside of sleeping hours.
Sleeping doesn’t count as observing silence as the mind will be unconsciously/involuntary being actively processing the memories or imprints of inputs, outputs, actions, reactions and emotions via dreams, except during the deep sleep mode where thought activities ceased, even when all the bodily systems still continue to be functioning autonomously/ceaselessly for maintaining life or staying alive.
Practicing partial silence in everyday life beside the few hours of complete solitude and seclusion restricting the mind inputs and outputs as mentioned above, it’s about filtering the inputs and outputs by:-
– Choosing inputs and outputs that will bring more correct understanding, quietness, peace and harmony to the mind of oneself and others. Avoid inputs and outputs that will inflict greater attachment, identification, expectation, craving and aversion, passionate desire, restlessness, stupidity, greed, anger, hatred, jealousy, lies, untruthfulness, hypocrisy, dissatisfaction, disappointment, grief, depression, hurt, hostility, violence, ill-thinking, fear and worry, and other impurities in the mind of oneself and others.
– Reducing and limiting the physical and mental engagement in social life interactions and activities as much as possible, such like disinterest or care less towards worldly affairs, or other people’s affairs, allowing everyone to develop correct understanding, self-introspection, self-discipline and self-realization, to know what is going on in their minds, to learn to love themselves and to look after their own minds and life independently (many passionate friendly sociable good people would disagree with this, as they don’t know/understand what is beyond the worldly thinking and belief of the ‘normal’, ‘friendly’, ‘caring’, ‘good’ and ‘appropriate’ human behavior. Looking after one’s mind by purifying and silencing one’s mind to be free from ignorance and egoism, to stop unwittingly and constantly ‘hurting’ oneself and others out of ignorance and egoism and impurities is the most efficient, compassionate and friendliest way to truly care for the world and other beings)
– Talk only when necessary of something important or in the case of emergency.
– Talk less by minimizing and cutting short conversation using simple words of ‘Hello’, ‘Good morning/afternoon/evening/night/day/bye’ and ‘Thank you’ upon coming in contact with other people in everyday life.
– Learn how to be free from boredom, loneliness, left-out or meaninglessness.
– Stop feeding the desire of craving and aversion.
– Give up the worldly nature/tendency of curiosity, busybody, minding other people’s affairs, heroism, gossiping, discussion, debate, commenting, flirting, bonding, connecting, networking, relationship building, teasing, blaming, fault finding, back-biting, criticism, argument, justification, complaining, moaning, mourning, day dreaming, building castle in the air, and etc.
Looking after the overall well-being and livelihood of oneself and/or those under one’s care, perform daily tasks of maintaining the living space, without attachment or expectation, and performing social selfless service of pure and compassionate actions without attachment, identification, discrimination, bias, judgment, comparison or expectation and renouncing the fruit of action, without personal/political/commercial/religious agenda and ambition, or selfish intention and desire, doesn’t contradict to the practice of silence.
– Give up personal friendships accumulation, but be friendly to all by freeing one’s mind from ignorance, egoism and impurities, without discrimination of personal likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements, desires of craving and aversion, possessiveness or expectation towards others, develop understanding and respect towards other people’s different ways of life and values of life, thinking, belief, practice, action and reaction, or behavior under different life condition and situation, and develop tolerance, forbearance, adjustment, adaptation, accommodation, forgiveness and letting go.
– Do not interfere with other people’s freedom of thinking and belief and way of life, or intrude other people’s privacy and personal or living space. Do not try to convert or change or correct other people’s thinking/belief/way of life that we don’t like or don’t agree with. Mind our own mind and life. What other people want and don’t want to think, feel, believe, practice, behave, act or react, and the consequences of their actions are their freedom and responsibility. Let everyone learn to take the responsibility for their actions and looking after themselves.
– Stay away from ignorant trouble-makers if possible, if it’s not possible to stay away, then endure the challenges or difficulties that arise due to other people’s ignorance and the consequences of their ignorant behavior, instead of trying to control or change or correct them or hoping that they will go away. Even this ‘challenging and difficult’ situation out of other people’s ignorance is also impermanent. Do not feed ignorance with ignorance. Confronting people under the influence of ignorance will only generate greater ignorant reactions and unnecessary damages. It’s the prideful arrogant ego that thinks and believes that “I can control or change or correct/educate these ignorant people to stop behaving ignorantly.” It’s up to everyone to be aware of ignorance in themselves, and want to be free from ignorance or stop behaving ignorantly. Buddha can only guide people who are aware of ignorance and suffering in themselves on how to be humble to look into their mind to see the truth, but Buddha can’t remove the veil of ignorance in anyone, so that they will be aware of ignorance in themselves. Trying to control/change/correct ignorant people by fighting or conflicting with them will only provoke more ignorant reactions. It’s like telling most arrogant people, “Hey! Don’t do this. You are so stupid.” they will be more determined to do it.
– During the practice of silence in everyday life, if the mind is struggling with boredom, loneliness, or meaninglessness, one can divert the time, energy and attention/importance into the inquiry or contemplation of the truth of names and forms, study the teachings of yoga and the existing thinking and belief in one’s mind to investigate the truth of it, or developing one-pointedness of the mind focusing at one object internally or externally, or perform Japa or chanting, or do some light yoga asana practice, until the mind starts to be at ease without much usual habits of worldly physical or mental activities, one can then channel the time, energy and attention into meditation, starting with observing the natural breath as it is, when this practice becomes effortless/non-struggle, one can then observe the physical sensations moving the awareness from point to point through out the body, without attachment, judgment, expectation, craving or aversion towards the pleasant or unpleasant sensations arising and passing away. When the practice become effortless, when the mind becomes quiet, naturally, the mind sees the truth as it is, insights or wisdom will arise upon the vanish of the veil of ignorance.
It’s absolutely possible to not having (or turn-off) TV, internet connection, phone connection, radio, music player, games and other convenient entertainments for the senses at home. Or, not going to the cinema, theaters, concerts, invitations, parties, events, functions, amusement park, entertainment centres, fancy restaurants, clubhouse, social interactive cafe, pleasurable enjoyment outlet, commercial malls, and so on.
It’s also possible to reduce and minimize social communications, interactions and activities, the accumulation of friendship and relationship, minimize contact with family and friend circle and the neighbours, minimize engaging in the community activities of the village/town/city, maximize solitude and seclusion outside the time when one has to come in contact with other people for work or getting daily needs for living/survival or in the case of emergency. Family and friends who truly love and accept us as we are, will not be offended or unhappy by our non-sociable way of life, or the practice of silence, seclusion and solitude. Those who truly know what is love will let go the people whom they loved. The family and friends who will complain and be offended, that’s their freedom for how they think, feel and react, but then we understand that it’s their ignorance, egoism and impurities that cause them to think, feel and react in such way. We can let them be and be unaffected and undetermined by their ignorance.
Basically, one must know how to be undisturbed or not be bothered by how the society/other people perceive, think and judge about one’s practice of silence and renouncing social interactions and activities, as there will always be some kind of non-understanding, non-acceptance, non-accommodating, disrespectfulness, interference or intrusion towards other people’s privacy and freedom of life, judgment, disagreement, dissatisfaction, disappointment, expectation, gossip, criticism or condemn coming from people of family, friends, relatives, community, or those who don’t even know the practitioner personally, due to ignorance, egoism and impurities. If one doesn’t know how to be undisturbed by all these worldly reactions from other people, it will only cause more unhappiness and disturbance in one’s mind being determined and disturbed by other people’s thinking and belief, and other people’s expectation and intrusion towards one’s way of life or practice. If so, the practice of partial silence in everyday life becomes impossible or being contradicting towards the ‘normal’ way of life of the society or the worldly minded people.
Both sociable and non-sociable way of life is neither good nor bad, neither right nor wrong. Just that for one who is aware of the ignorance and suffering in one’s mind, who wants to be free from ignorance and suffering, the practice of silence is essential, though not everyone is suitable for this practice. It requires tremendous will power, perseverance, self-discipline, mental and emotional independence, fearlessness, dispassion and non-attachment deriving from the basic understanding of yoga, suffering and the cause of suffering, ignorance and the by-products of ignorance, the mind and the modifications of the mind, the ego and egoism, and the not necessarily easy or comfortable, but ‘correct’ and ‘efficient’ way/path to be free from ignorance and suffering.
People who don’t talk much, don’t interact much, who are not responsive towards other people’s ‘friendliness’ or ‘interest to be interacting with other people’, are being perceived or understood by the society/worldly minded people as ‘abnormality’, ‘rude’, ‘unfriendly’, ‘unhealthy’, or ‘uncaring’. Even many yoga enthusiasts of yoga practitioners and yoga teachers are also not free from this type of perception, thinking and belief.
Non-sociable is not the same as anti-social. It’s normal that people would perceive or think that the practice of silence is anti-social, or non-contributing to the society or the world, or being selfish. But they don’t know that silence of the mind is the highest and purest form of contribution towards humanity and the society or the world and our loved ones, by freeing one’s mind from ignorance, egoism and impurities, stop hurting oneself and/or others out of ignorance, egoism and impurities, and being non-intrusive/non-interference/respectful towards other people’s freedom of different ways of life, thinking, belief, practice and behavior. If people want to judge, that’s their freedom. Let them be.
If one seriously wants to implement the practice of partial silence into everyday life, then one can try one’s best to avoid coming in contact with or staying away from worldly minded people who strongly believe in and advocate ‘certain thinking and beliefs of how human beings should and shouldn’t behave and live life’, ‘ideal of building a perfectly all good and bad-free world’, ‘ideal of changing the world to be the way that they think it should be’, ‘be in control’, ‘be in power’, ‘be strong’, ‘be passionate’, ‘be sociable’, ‘be inspired’, ‘be interactive’ and ‘community values’ way of life, or those who attached strongly onto and be proud towards their own way of life and values of life, who want to convert and correct other people whom they dislike and disagree with, and they get offended or disturbed by other people’s different ways of life or values of life, and they expect other people should also be like them having the similar way of life and values of life.
Those who truly practice yoga and meditation, who are truly friendly, kind and compassionate, is nothing to do with being outspoken, talkative, sociable or interactive, and actively engaging in worldly social, community, cultural, family and friends affairs, interactions and activities. They have no identification as ‘friendly, kind and compassionate people’. They might be performing actions that would benefit the world silently, but they don’t intent/aspire to change the world to be all good and nothing bad. They don’t expect other people to also be like them. They have no attachment or identification towards their actions and they have no expectation towards the fruit of their actions, allowing the fruit to be what it is. They don’t interfere with or intrude other people’s freedom of different ways of life, thinking, belief, practice and behavior, even though the mind might dislike or disagreeable with those ways of life, thinking, belief, practice and behavior. They don’t try to covert or change or ‘correct’ other people who are different from them to also be like them. They allow the law of nature to be what it is. They are free from craving or clinging towards ‘goodness’ and aversion towards ‘badness’. They respect everyone to be what they are, as they are, even if they are not very nice, or behave nastily or destructively, due to ignorance. They allow everyone to experience, learn and evolve at their own cause and pace, even if the entire world or humanity will be destroyed by ignorance. Because none can free another being from the consequences of their own actions or their own suffering deriving from ignorance, egoism and impurities, but oneself.
One will be very disappointed if one expects everyone to be good and do good and nothing bad and evil. The world is a platform for human beings under the influence of ignorance, egoism and impurities to ‘play’, to ‘have fun’, to ‘procreate’, to gratify their desires of creating something that they like and destroying something that they don’t like. Greed, dissatisfaction, discrimination, bias, unjust, corruption, anger, hatred, jealousy, lust, hurt, offensiveness, hostility, ill-will, fear, worry, hunger, thirst, conflicts, violence, wars and etc are everywhere. There are also some goodness, good deeds, kindness, empathy, sympathy, charity, assistance, higher technologies, pleasurable enjoyments and entertainment, good family, good relationship, good behavior, good understanding, good friendships, good community, good companion, good life, good environment, good condition, good situation, good people, and so on. But no matter how much badness and how much goodness, all are impermanent. Appreciate and support all the goodness but without attachment, clinging or craving towards goodness, and do not appreciate or support badness but without aversion towards badness, if one wants to be free.
Those who are free and peaceful, they don’t need to observe all the above practice or observation of silence to render the mind pure and quiet to allow the mind to see the truth of names and forms, to be free from ignorance and be peaceful. They can live alone away from the society, or live with other people among the society, but they are not influenced or disturbed by what is happening in the world, or the ignorance, egoism, impurities, or interference of other people, remain equanimous in peace.
The practice of silence is for those who sincerely want to know the truth of one’s mind and suffering. Those who have no interest in knowing the mind, who don’t need to be free from suffering, who are happy with everything as it is, they don’t need to do this practice.
It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their life, body and mind.