Noble silence during retreats

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Noble silence during retreats

Postby puppha » Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:30 pm

Dear All,

Is it OK to break the noble silence during retreats if it is to share meditation experiences or insights?
That would seems quite "connected with the goal", by opposition to "how are you doing", "where do you come from", and discussions about kings, princes, armies, land and sea, etc. (you know the list!)

Any thoughts are welcome!

With Metta
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Re: Noble silence during retreats

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:03 pm

It may depend on the retreat centre!

some keep talking to what is absolutely necessary and give opportunity for interviews/Q&A with a teacher during the period, others may allow a period of talking each day, but that would be rare in short retreats of no more than 14days, although I have heard of it being done.

generally silence should only be broken to communicate something which needs communicating, and I would advise you to look at the centre you are going to and the standard they hold for guidance.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Noble silence during retreats

Postby Alobha » Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:28 pm

puppha wrote:Is it OK to break the noble silence during retreats if it is to share meditation experiences or insights?


Depends on the teacher. Usually, teachers offer you the opportunity to talk to them about your progress at some time.
If you are instructed by the teacher to not talk to the other participants, to not take away the silence from them, then it's best to follow this instruction. You don't know whether the other participants want to be talked to during noble silence.
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Re: Noble silence during retreats

Postby James the Giant » Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:47 pm

Retreats are for working out your own liberation, not for discussing your or other people's experiences or realizations.
Silence is such a rare thing these days. Don't blow it by bringing talk into the retreat. Unless it's with the teacher.
Plenty of time for talk, noble or otherwise, in the rest of your life.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Noble silence during retreats

Postby puppha » Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:43 am

Dear All,

Many thanks for your comments, that's very useful to me.

With Metta
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Re: Noble silence during retreats

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:35 am

puppha wrote:Is it OK to break the noble silence during retreats if it is to share meditation experiences or insights?
That would seems quite "connected with the goal", by opposition to "how are you doing", "where do you come from", and discussions about kings, princes, armies, land and sea, etc. (you know the list!)


It might be better to write these things down.

Spiny
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Re: Noble silence during retreats

Postby acinteyyo » Thu Mar 08, 2012 3:06 pm

puppha wrote:Dear All,

Is it OK to break the noble silence during retreats if it is to share meditation experiences or insights?
That would seems quite "connected with the goal", by opposition to "how are you doing", "where do you come from", and discussions about kings, princes, armies, land and sea, etc. (you know the list!)

Any thoughts are welcome!

With Metta

Hi,

I don't know what you and others here consider "noble silence" but it seems to me it is understood to be not-talking or just being silent. But this isn't noble silence! If you only stop talking while still having thoughts you're just keeping your mouth closed.
See Kolita Sutta SN 21.1 what the Buddha meant by noble silence:
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī at Jeta's Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery. There Ven. Mahā Moggallāna addressed the monks, "Friend monks!"

"Yes, friend," the monks responded to him.

Ven. Mahā Moggallāna said, "Friends, once as I was withdrawn in seclusion, this train of thought arose to my awareness, '"Noble silence, noble silence," it is said. But what is noble silence?' Then the thought occurred to me, 'There is the case where a monk, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, enters & remains in the second jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. This is called noble silence.' So, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, I entered & remained in the second jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. While I remained in that [mental] dwelling, I was assailed by perceptions & [acts of] attention connected with directed thought.

"Then the Blessed One, coming to me through his [psychic] power, said, 'Moggallāna. Moggallāna. Brahman, don't be heedless of noble silence. Establish your mind in noble silence. Make your mind unified in noble silence. Concentrate your mind in noble silence.' So at a later time, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, I entered & remained in the second jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance.

"When one, speaking rightly, would say of someone, 'A disciple attained to greatness of direct knowledge through the assistance of the Teacher,' it's of me that one speaking rightly would say, 'A disciple attained to greatness of direct knowledge through the assistance of the Teacher.'"

Noble silence is a synonym for second jhāna.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

:anjali:
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Re: Noble silence during retreats

Postby kirk5a » Thu Mar 08, 2012 3:23 pm

acinteyyo wrote:Noble silence is a synonym for second jhāna.

That's interesting, thanks for that. But then if one is to maintain noble silence during the entire retreat, one would have to maintain the second jhana during the entire reatreat, including whatever activities one does (walking, eating, etc.)

This would conflict with some people's understanding of the second jhana - while others might not see the problem with that.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Noble silence during retreats

Postby acinteyyo » Thu Mar 08, 2012 3:47 pm

kirk5a wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:Noble silence is a synonym for second jhāna.

That's interesting, thanks for that. But then if one is to maintain noble silence during the entire retreat, one would have to maintain the second jhana during the entire reatreat, including whatever activities one does (walking, eating, etc.)

This would conflict with some people's understanding of the second jhana - while others might not see the problem with that.

It depends... I don't know what people mean when they say "maintain noble silence during the entire retreat". Are they talking about keeping silent or noble silence according to the Suttas. :shrug:
I just wanted to point out what the Suttas say about noble silence and that noble silence is not just keeping silent as one or the other may think.

When I stayed at a monastery I once said to a monk that I'm going to practice noble silence this day and that I will only talk in case of emergency. He replied that if I really want to practice noble silence I should not forget that having conversations in the mind, talking to myself, thinking and so on is not really being silent. Then he told me about the Kolita Sutta.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

:anjali:
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Re: Noble silence during retreats

Postby kirk5a » Thu Mar 08, 2012 4:26 pm

acinteyyo wrote:When I stayed at a monastery I once said to a monk that I'm going to practice noble silence this day and that I will only talk in case of emergency. He replied that if I really want to practice noble silence I should not forget that having conversations in the mind, talking to myself, thinking and so on is not really being silent. Then he told me about the Kolita Sutta.

I don't see anything impossible about remaining mentally silent during activities outside of formal sitting meditation practice. But whether that silence counts as second jhana... I'm guessing probably not, because there would have to be directed thought and evaluation to do normal things... I think...

Perhaps there's a spectrum of silence. There's not talking but still blabbing mentally, there's neither talking nor blabbing mentally but still with "quiet" mental activities occurring, then there's complete mental stillness (probably only attainable during concentration states)?

So anyway... if someone is saying to maintain "noble silence" during a retreat, perhaps they could describe a bit more what they mean by that.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Noble silence during retreats

Postby puppha » Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:09 am

Dear Acinteyyo,

acinteyyo wrote:I don't know what you and others here consider "noble silence" but it seems to me it is understood to be not-talking or just being silent. But this isn't noble silence! If you only stop talking while still having thoughts you're just keeping your mouth closed.

Thanks for that, that looks to me like a very sensible remark.

I was more talking about simply remaining silent during retreats. I understand from other's comments that it might very well be the case that other meditators would not necessarily appreciate being disturbing by my talking. So all in all, I think keeping silent is the best option, unless there is an explicit invitation from whoever is organising the retreat to talk.

With Metta
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Re: Noble silence during retreats

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sun Mar 11, 2012 10:11 am

puppha wrote: I understand from other's comments that it might very well be the case that other meditators would not necessarily appreciate being disturbing by my talking.


Yes, I think that's worth remembering. Although being silent on retreat needs some adjustment initially it can be very helpful in allowing the mind to calm down, and demonstrating that much of what we say is actually unecessary. ;)

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