There is a story about Buddha who once came before his disciples with a flower in his hand. The whole crowd waited for his sermon yet not a single word was uttered. And it was very unusual to find him carrying something in his hand.
Nobody understood what was happening, but then Mahakashyap—one of Buddha’s disciples—laughed, breaking the silence.
Buddha waved his hands, gave the flower to him and said: “Whatsoever can be said through words I have said to you, and that which cannot be said through words I give to Mahakashyap.” Mahakashyap later became the “founder” of Zen tradition and as we can see it today, in Zen meditation (zazen), silence is greatly emphasized.
Many spiritual gurus in India practiced “mauna” (maintaining silence) during their lives. Some did it on a certain day of the week others for several years in a row. In Bali, people use silence to mark the celebration of the Balinese New Year.
In the world that is growing noisier every day, withdrawing from the sounds can be very invigorating. It helps the mind to rest so that energy is conserved and can be used wisely to reconnect with our inner self. Taking a small break during the day, enjoying lunch or walking in silence can be a good practice to start with. Then, when you are ready, you can take a bigger break by joining a retreat.
Nyepi Retreat will take place over Bali’s Silence Day in March. This is a great opportunity to practice “mauna” as the whole island will be shut off from noise and all Balinese people stay at home, fasting and meditating.