Speaking of Silence

Today I bring you a funny Zen story but funny doesn’t mean it is not important. As you already know by now- Zen stories are puzzles (Koans) that come from the Zen Masters that point to the higher meaning of life and are potential techniques for Self-Realization.

Let’s discuss more after you read the story-


Four monks decided to meditate silently without speaking for two weeks.
By nightfall on the first day, the candle began to flicker and then went out. 

The first monk said, “Oh, no! The candle is out.” 

The second monk said, “Aren’t we not supposed to talk?” 

The third monk said, “Why must you two break the silence?” 

The fourth monk laughed and said, “Ha! I’m the only one who didn’t speak.”


Mind is the eternal Joker always ready to do funny things. If you are not attached to it – you could understand it’s jokes and laugh but If you don’t you will be trouble.
The idea is to learn the way – the right way to look at the mind.

Let’s go to the story –

Mind does not want to silent. In Silence, is the death of the Mind. Mind cannot survive in the profound silence of the present moment. In present moment there is nothing apart from the moment itself. There is absolutely nothing that the mind can do in the present. If you want to go to the past or future, mind is required. Present just requires your presence. Nothing is to be done. So naturally mind will create troubles and will say one thing or the other to break the Silence. In ultimate silence, the truth dawns upon you. Truth can only be known in Silence.

We are a victim of the herd mentality. We can’t decide for ourselves and wait for the others to start. We want others to spoon feed us and back our decisions. If one starts, then second starts- When many start, it is considered to be an important thing to do. More and people join the herd but nobody stops for a moment to question.

Continuity is the key to success. The monks decided to silently meditate for 2 weeks but it is difficult for the mind. On the first day itself as the candle went out, the mind of the first found a reason to talk on the very first event that had happened. It could not hold and wanted to say something about it. There is nothing to say actually – the candle went out, it went out. But it wanted to speak anyway. Immediately the second one spoke too. It was already waiting. The second monk wanted to speak nonetheless but did not want to be the first one to break the rule. He thought the first one broke the rule and not me. This is “Blaming” technique. Put the blame on somebody else and you feel at ease. You did not do it – he did.

The second one wanted to remind the rule. This is another technique of the mind – “Rationalizing”. He said – “Aren’t we supposed to talk?” He is reminding of their oath – the rule. So he knows I’m breaking the rule but I have a good reason to do it. I am reminding them of the rule.

The third one reminds the first two that they broke the rule, by breaking the rule himself. Mind wants to see outside and is unable to see its own side. It is blinded to see only the outer side and not itself. The third one feels safe that he has not broken the rule but the first two did and he has the right to teach them a lesson. He is angry and breaks the rule himself.

The fourth one represents the final way of the mind – the ego. He remained silent but now he wanted to tell everybody that had won otherwise who cares. Nobody would remember later that he did not speak. So he had to speak. So he broke the rule and said – I did not speak. Ego wants to show off and wants to prove his way. Silence cannot be talked about. Even by saying the word “Silence” the Silence is broken.

All these are techniques of the mind. Beware of them!

Whenever you make a goal and devote yourself in it – just be with it until it completes. Leave the herd mentality and ask yourself –

  • What is my Understanding?
  • How should I behave?
  • What is my goal?
  • What is important for me – to prove myself right or my goal?

The real meaning of Silence is to be understood by going deeper and deeper into silence. Meditation is for you and not for the others. Even if others break the rule why should you?

Somebody plucks a flower from a plant. He does it based on his understanding. It is important for you to do what you feel is right! Witness your ego – all its amusements and nuisances. This is the beginning of your spiritual development.

Another part to understand is preparations. Monks in the story represents the seekers who have not prepared themselves well for the task. Had they prepared themselves, they might have succeeded. If you are going to start a task – prepare yourself first. Spend some time for preparations. The more important the task, the more you should prepare yourself. Ask –

  • What kinds of odds I might face during the task?
  • Am I ready to beat the odds and succeed no matter what comes in my way?

Think about it…

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About mohitvalecha

Mohit is an optimistic day-dreamer and romancer who gave up his 11 year old software profession experience to build his dream in Creative Writing. He writes blogs, articles, reviews, children stories, fiction and non-fiction spirituality books to promote reading and provide a meaning to people’s lives. If he is not reading or writing, you would find him making mock, cock and all other kinds of tails or playing with his charming son Krishna. His life is a love triangle with three corners being Devi, Krishna and his Guru, Sirshree. Mohit’s passion is Meditation, Heal and Help people and play “Bhi ta!” (Another form of Hide-&-Seek) with Krishna.
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