By Nhat Quan
Language is to express, understand, sympathize, and create a necessary interdependence. Therefore, in life, communication has an extremely important function that governs all human activities. Language is capable of conveying all necessary information to help people understand each other better and is a means of communication between people and between people and the social community. Language also expresses the inner feelings of people. Language is also a means to bring friends to the truth of reality, to experience reality. Language is everything. Therefore, if sometimes language has the ability to raise people to truth, goodness, and beauty, language also has the ability to engulf people in the false ambition of sin.
In Buddhism language also plays a huge role in conveying the Buddha's teachings. People who study and practice Buddhism rely on that teaching to practice in order to achieve peace and liberation. Of course, language is not the ultimate truth, but language is only a means, to express truth.
So there are times when it is necessary to speak, even a lot, to be able to benefit others, to reconcile, to harmonize and sympathize, or to defend the truth or learn to understand the truth. However, there are times when silence is needed, when silence has far more valuable insight. Therefore, silence is a flower of language, which does not emit fragrance but has a noble beauty. This flower will exude your powerful beauty if you know how to make it bloom at the right time. Indeed, silence is the language that is said to speak more than all the time, a language of wisdom. This kind of language is only found in people who have the skill to nurture. Therefore, speaking or being silent must be in the right place, at the right time, with the right person, and only used when absolutely necessary. But when to be silent? I would suggest that:
          01- Silence when others are sad or suffering
Be happy with happy people, sad with sad people. It is the attitude of an educated, knowledgeable, reasonable, well-behaved, and empathetic person. There is nothing more ungrateful than when someone else is crying and you are smiling, or vice versa. That lack of tact can make you look ridiculous, and unsightly.
02- Silence when others think
Silence is when the mind is active. Thanks to that there are masterpieces, nobility, understanding, maturity, recollection, etc. A writer W. Goethe defines:
Talent is nurtured in solitude, while the character is created by the raging waves of life's storms. Seeing other people thinking and thinking doesn't break their privacy. Silence at that time was really necessary and meaningful.
          03- Silence when others don't understand you
When you are not understood by other people, you need to be open and sociable so that others can understand you better. But if you feel that people really can't understand, or don't want to understand, it's best to keep quiet. Otherwise, what you say may cause allergies or hostility.
 04- Silence when you don't know
The ancients used to say:
- If you know, then say, if you don't know, lean on the column to listen.
Wise people speak only what they know well and are completely silent about what they do not know or are vague about. Don't think you're an encyclopedia. The scholar Edison said:
- What you know is just a drop of water, what you don't know is an ocean.
And the sage Socrates admits:
- I don't know anything, that's what I know best.
As an ordinary person, you need to be humble and know how to be silent.
          05- Silence when others brag
Empty vessels make the most noise. The more you know, the less you talk, thoughtful and empathetic. Of the four operations, subtraction is the easiest, yet most meaningful. It is only because you are ignorant that you are domineering, strict or obstinate. Boasting and reasoning are characteristics of the minds of shallow, short-sighted people. Idiots often use words to try to cover your flaws.
06- Silence in anger
In heated debates, and which tend to get heated, what an intelligent person will do is choose silence for you. Holding on to all the emotions that are waiting for the opportunity to flow, and the desire to win at all costs is how you avoid hurting others. Be honest with yourself. You have to be more or less aware of the emotionally destructive power of what you will say. So, when you choose silence, you are refusing to hurt others.
Maybe you're worried that cutting back on your words will make you look like an underdog. If you really think so, then you can put your worries away because only strong people can control themselves in situations like these. Do you remember, one of the wisest pieces of advice from our grandparents was:
- The rice cooker is boiling, then reduce the heat.
When you learn to be quiet, you will save your relationship for a long time.
07- Silence when the other party needs to express
Listening with all your attention and wanting to share the other person's thoughts is an extremely valuable thing. Especially in modern times, when you don't have enough time to spend together. When you listen to what others have to say, don't intentionally interrupt, or listen carelessly. It means you are showing your respect to the other person. That is really a beauty in the communication of civilized people.
Even in a situation where the other person is intentionally dominating, your courtesy will sooner or later help the other person see themselves and make more appropriate adjustments.
In addition, the ability to listen will bring you many benefits, as it opens your mind, new ideas come and relationships become stronger.
08- Silence when there is nothing to say
You often think that silence will make you uncomfortable, so you must force yourself to think of something to discuss and create a happy atmosphere. However, in reality, there are times when you have nothing to say and neither does the other person. It is during this time that it is best for you to enjoy each other's presence in silence. Quiet moments can sometimes bring peace to each person. Because when you can be around someone comfortably, even without having to say anything, that's a good sign for a relationship. It means you understand and accept each other, just being here is enough.
Besides, the silence of others is often a sign to you that they need to be alone to think about something at that time. At that time, the fact that you can keep quiet in a comfortable and trusting mood will help the other person a lot, even if it is as precious as you giving the other person a gift.
09- Silence before insensitive words
At any age, it is inevitable that you will hear insensitive words or words that are sarcastic, and provocative from others. In situations like these, silence is the most powerful counterattack weapon you can use. Your silence will be a powerful answer, full of majesty. But it's also just soft enough that it won't embarrass the other side and after that, they'll still pick up on your message.
10- Silence is a wise investment
Instead of spending time chatting, you can focus your mind and time on work, developing your own skills is the most practical and smart choice. Because no mean talk will consume a large amount of your time and energy. Chatting can actually be considered a mental drug. It can leave you feeling empty and lonely when the story has to stop.
So, when you're overwhelmed by your desire to confide and you feel like you just can't stop talking, take a second to ask yourself:
- What is really necessary for life? Speak for pleasure or use that time rationally to do more useful things?
Silence is sometimes an attitude of receptivity and listening. This is silence with wisdom worth a thousand gold. When you are wrong, or feel you are wrong, it is necessary to silently listen to every instruction, every scolding from the person you have made a mistake with them, or from the person who points out your mistake. This is the time to develop the power of wise silence of yours.
Sometimes listening attentively to some useful information, silence in this case shows your concentration. When talking to each other, one of them must be silent and listen to the other. And when you are silent, you have created opportunities and conditions for you to receive a lot of useful information through the organs of hearing and vision.
11- Silence when others do not need to comment
Never meddle in other people's business, or be curious about theirs. Besides, talking too much is much wrong. Speaking biased leads to loss of correctness, bragging then leads to weakness, skewed talk leads to wrong, and concealed talk will come to an end. That's why Cibbon once said:
- Discussion makes people understand, but silence is the school of wisdom.
Silence is also love, forgiveness, and maturity in life. The Chinese sage, Mr. Tuan Tu, taught:
- Silence, listening, remembering, action and wisdom are the five different levels of wisdom. This can be considered as the five signs of life.
12- Be silent when you start to speak ill of others.
Speaking ill of others is not only a bad virtue, but it also carries dangerous verbal karma. So when you know you are trying to speak ill of others, you have to keep quiet and don't continue.
So about using language at the right time, right place, with the right person, the Buddha often emphasized:
- All scriptures are like a finger pointing to the moon, need to rely on that finger to see the moon, but the finger is not the real moon.
This does not mean that Buddhism denies the role and function of language. Language helps a lot in people's life. But in absolute terms, language cannot really convey all the value of the truth of reality. Since language is the product of thought, or of a concept, it is speculative, but in the depths of absolute reason, language cannot express it all.
During the life of the Buddha, you find that for the most part, he still has many strange minutes of silence. Whenever someone came to ask a question, Buddha often kept quiet rather than answering. Usually every time the disciples ask for something if he doesn't accept the Buddha refuses; If he accepts, he is silent.
The silence of the Sangha at Jetavana Monastery made King Ajatasatru terrified, when the Jìvaka, also a Buddhist physician, took him to see the Buddha one night:
- Hey, Jìvaka, you betray me? Hey, Jìvaka, have you deceived me? Hey Jìvaka, do you hand me over to the enemy? Why is it that in such a large assembly of one thousand two hundred and fifty people, there is not a single clear throat, not a cough, not a single noise?
Knowing the fear of the king in front of this dignified and pure scene, Jìvaka immediately reassured the king, then led the king to meet the Buddha. From this meeting, King Ajatasatru really transformed his life into a new direction, the direction of peace and liberation.
It was in these moments that King Ajatasatru repented for his mistakes, and thanks to the power of the Buddha and the Sangha, King Ajatasatru made a great revolution in his life. From a cruel and cruel king to a pure Buddhist king who protects the Three Jewels. That silence really has a special energy capable of transforming and purging from within the primordial essence of the inner self, removing all defilements and faults to become absolutely pure. This transformation is not forced, but completely natural like a glass of water when it is quiet, the residue settles.
The many minutes of the silence of the Buddha and the holy monks have really shaken the minds of many people. There were many who could be called the most stubborn, but a magical silence captured them. The story between Asvaghosa Bodhisattva and Hiep Ariyo or Hiep Honored One is one of the interesting stories about the magic of silence.
Before following Buddhism, Asvaghosa Bodhisattva was a famous great teacher. Because of hearing the voice of Hiep Ariyo, he came to challenge the argument and bet with his own head. Asvaghosa Bodhisattva led the disciples to Hiep Ariyo to raise the argument:
- All languages can be negated.
Hiep Thera is silent. Asvaghosa Bodhisattva did not receive an answer or argument from Hiep Thera, thinking that Hiep Thera had lost, so he became proud:
- This Hiep Thera is just a vanity because he cannot refute my argument.
Sometime later, while contemplating the matter for himself, Asvaghosa Bodhisattva suddenly discovered the truth and called his disciples to him and said:
- Actually, I lost to Hiep Thera. Because the thesis says: All language can be negated. So that very premise is itself negated. Hiep Thera said nothing, of course, nothing to be negated.
Then Asvaghosa Bodhisattva according to the covenant, handed over his head to the Hiep Thera. But Hiep Thera said:
- I don't need to cut your head, I just need to cut your hair.
Since then, Asvaghosa Bodhisattva venerated Hiep Thera as his teacher. Of course, Asvaghosa Bodhisattva later became a great teacher of Mahayana Buddhism. That means that after the silence, Asvaghosa Bodhisattva spoke, and said more to revive Mahayana Buddhism.
The old example shows you, from the Buddha to the Patriarchs, all use wisdom and silence to act according to the conditions while saving sentient beings. This silence has had a great impact on the minds of people in the past as well as today, bringing practical benefits, and solving many problems without any conflict.
Today in the midst of a turbulent society, environmental pollution is rampant, including the pollution of noise about right and wrong. The current information technology era seeks to make people talk to each other more. But the more you talk, the more confused you become, sometimes becoming the mouth of a knife and a hammer, causing pain and hatred so that people become strangers to each other. In the meantime, wise silence has real practical value. Not only makes the environment clean and pure but also makes people's hearts more peaceful. You have the opportunity to look within yourself to find the source of happiness and peace that makes life truly meaningful.
From the silence of the wise man, you find the true value of life. Then, when speaking and communicating, it all comes from a sincere heart, saying nice words to benefit everyone.
In short, silence is a marvelous art and the expression of a wise man. Talking is good, but sometimes silence is better. So you should learn to listen to understand and stop to love. This lesson is only for those who know how to let go of arrogance, know that life is impermanent, and have high wisdom.
Indeed, the need to share with everyone is available to everyone. But to inspire and listen to you, there are not many people. Human emotions are extremely complex, the older you get, the more open your heart becomes. Therefore, adults just think without speaking, while young people talk without thinking!
The older you get, the more lonely you feel, or nostalgic about your youth, regretting the things of the past. Young people are anxious for the day to come and will be ready to throw away what they do not like, without being understood or not understood by others. And of course, never be silent and then complain or get angry and try to patch and overlap everything. Until everything is messed up, then tired, depressed, blaming the unfair life, why is God so difficult for this person, easy for the other?
At this point, you have understood and seen the great value of silence. Then you should also learn wise silence. When you keep the wise silence, you can come to the end of the devotion, and realize the picture of life is so beautiful, so worthy. And sometimes in order to complete it, you must be quietly searched, always patient and silent. As long as you have enough faith, you will get what you need. Because, when you believe, you will see, and if you try to find, you will meet. If you firmly believe that you will be happy, then there will be happiness immediately
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