Exploring “The Sound of Silence” this Sunday with Benjamin Hohl

December 15, 2023

Exploring “The Sound of Silence” this Sunday with Benjamin Hohl

Dear Community,

Sunday 10am Community Practice & Discussion

This Sunday Benjamin Hohl will lead an exploration of "The Sound of Silence," a practice regularly taught by Ajahn Sumedho and his students, including Ajahn Amaro. This theme feels timely as we near the winter solstice and the winter season of quietness.

Below is an excerpt from Ajahn Amaro’s book Inner Listening (freely available here), a book dedicated to exploring this practice method:

The nada-sound [”nada” is the Sanskrit term for this “Sound of Silence”] is a high-pitched inner ringing tone. When you turn your attention toward your hearing, if you listen carefully to the sounds around you, you’ll hear a continuous high-pitched sound, like a white noise – beginningless, endless – sparkling there in the background. See if you can discern that sound and bring attention to it. For the moment there’s no need to theorize about it or wonder about exactly what it might be, just turn your attention to it. See if you can detect that gentle inner vibration. If you are able to hear that inner sound you can use the simple act of listening to it as another form of meditation practice. It can be used just like the breath as an object of awareness. Simply bring the attention to it and allow it to fill the whole sphere of your awareness…

If we focus on the inner sound for a length of time sufficient to bring such a quality of firmness and steadiness, where the mind is resting easily in the present, we can then allow the sound to fall into the background. In this way it becomes like a screen on which all other sounds, physical sensations, moods and ideas are projected – like a screen upon which the movie of the rest of the patterns of our experience is displayed. And because of its plainness, its uniformity, it’s a very good screen. It doesn’t interfere with or confuse the other objects that are arising, yet it’s very obviously present. It’s like having a somewhat mottled screen or a distinctive screen against which a movie is projected, so that if you pay attention you are aware there’s a screen on which the light is being played. It reminds you, “This is just a movie. This is just a projection. This is not reality.”

Here is an excerpt from Ajahn Sumedho’s book Intuitive Awareness (freely available here) in the chapter titled “The Sound of Silence”:

The sound of silence… can help to focus the mind, because when the mind is aware of it, it’s in a very expanded state. This state of mind is one that welcomes whatever arises in consciousness; it’s not a state where you are excluding anything. The sound of silence is like infinite space because it includes all other sounds, everything. It gives a sense of expansion, unlimitedness, infinity. Other sounds come and go, change and move accordingly, but it is like a continuum, a stream…

Listening to the sound of silence allows us to integrate mindfulness meditation into movement, work, business. If you are in the kitchen washing the dishes, or walking from here back to your room, or driving a car, you are able to listen to the sound of silence at the same time. It does not make you heedless. It allows you to be fully with what you are doing; it increases your mindfulness. It helps you to wash the dishes fully and really be with the washing of the dishes, rather than just washing the dishes and being with all kinds of other things. Walking back to your room, you could be thinking about anything. Using the sound of silence helps you to be with walking, being mindful and with the very action that’s happening in the present.

Please join us for this exploration! All meditation experience levels and welcome. Registration and Zoom information available here.

With metta,

Minneapolis Insight