Thursday, November 01, 2007

Noble Silence

I'm spending 4 days on a contemplative faculty retreat. Thirty three of us gathered together to be mindfully, attentive and intentionally silent. One of the three people leading the retreat spoke briefly about the purpose of the silence. She urged us to practice "noble silence" - a Buddhist practice of stilling not only the voice, but even our body language, a silence that lets one be alone in the midst, supported by the silence of others.

The monastic practices of "custody of the eyes" and the Great Silence serve similar purposes. To encourage us to hear rather than talk, with all our senses. To reverence the needs of others over our own. To be still, even in motion.


  1. wow, I am curious of how such things get organized at a workplace and many other details, but overall am happy you had the opportunity. I look forward to hear how it goes.

  2. Oops, I thought it was a conference you were headed for. Will modify my prayers for a blessed experience.

    I am impressed that you can handle four days of complete silence--I lived for my hour of spiritual direction, and for the occasional dialogue homily, when I did the Spiritual Exercises in Long Retreat. And I am way out of practice.

  3. Wayne, it's organized by the Center for the Contemplative Mind in Society, and their first try at such a thing. They've done them at workplaces, too (they just finished one at Google!)

    Mother Laura, it starts with two days of silence, then shifts to a more standard conference format midafternoon tomorrow. Prayers for it all are welcome and appreciated!!

    You would probably do just fine with the silence we are keeping, as the directors have been inviting comments and questions at various points along the way.

    But I have to say, in general silence is not a struggle for me. I do 8 days every year, a day a month if I can eke it out of my schedule. My director worries how out of control my life is when he doesn't see my name on the overnight guest list when we have an appointment!