Silence. Eight kinds of silence. 12 kinds of Noble Silence

There is silence and there is Noble Silence.

We pay respect to a Noble Silence, not of words, not of constructions of the mind and profoundly knowable.

We might imagine silence consists of a single element, which remains much the same. Like everything else, silence reveals itself according to the inner-circumstances. We can experience silence in a variety of ways.

Noble Silence carries with it a transcendental element. Here are some of the silences common to human beings.

In alphabetical order:

Eight Kinds of Silence

  1. Silence of coldness. A person closes off to another, ignores the other and rejects the person.
  2. Silence of confusion. A person’s mind goes into a spin and cannot say what he or she wishes to say.
  3. Silence of forgetfulness. A person knows that they need to speak up, write or act but forgets
  4. Silence of not knowing. A person does not know how to respond to what another states or asks.
  5. Silence of numbness. A person makes an error of judgement and finds themselves speechless.
  6. Silence of the hidden. A person holds back what he or she knows.
  7. Silence out of fear. A person feels afraid to write, speak up or act.
  8. Silence out of indifference. A person knows what he or she needs to do but cannot be bothered to act.

Twelve Kinds of Noble Silence

  1. Silence in Endurance. A person endures accusations, fault finding and negativity. Such a person keeps Noble Silence.
  2. Silence in Listening. A person listens mindfully to another with respect and without interrupting.
  3. Silence of a Few Words. A person says little. The person offers precious jewels of insights in the space of a few words.
  4. Silence of Appreciation. A person is deeply touched through one of the senses or emergence from the depth of the inner life.
  5. Silence of Creativity. A precious movement of artistic endeavour.
  6. Silence of Meditation. A depth of inner silence makes accessible insights and realizations,
  7. Silence of Receptivity. A calm and clear abiding. A mind abides pregnant for what might emerge, inwardly or outwardly.
  8. Silence of Solitude. Abiding in the appreciation of aloneness, one knows a silence that embraces everything.
  9. Silence of Stillness. A depth of stillness. Sounds, voices, nature, technology, pass through the silence and into stillness
  10. Silence of the Night. Waking up in the night. Alert. Mindful. Experiencing a palpable silence.
  11. Silence of the Sangha. The stillness in the meditation hall. Humans resting their being in the depths of the silence.
  12. Silence of Wonder. An experience of nature, of sky above and earth below, and the surrounding universe.

May we be mindful of the silences which we experience

May we be mindful of the silences of others

May we explore all twelve of the noble kinds of silence.



  • This is very fascinating, all the different aspects of silence. Very energising to consider these things. Like listening to a situation through a crystal, with all its different facets. Sort of.
    Talking of silence, I’m going to mute the external output on my synth, for the sake of the neighbours, and the spiders on the ceiling, put on my headphones, and get to expressing aspects relating to Emptiness and Silence and lots of other things through various peculiar electronic sounds mixed with a low whisper. The poem chant!! Then I can hear it all sloshing through me like a sonic flow, with lyrics about pigeons and the neon lights of the pizza cafe, smiles, kisses, and war-scars that keep reopening and oozing endless tears.
    Not sure what Buddha would have made of the electronic synth sound, ‘cos they hadn’t been invented. What kind of instruments did people play in Buddha’s time I wonder?
    Thanks to this amazing forum, and being allowed to consider these teachings in a way that’s real, and in fact learn how to learn them, (sorry to go on a bit,) I’m going home to my room now to make poem chants.
    I’ll still read the teachings, especially if there’s an article on Karma, hint hint, but I’ll not go on in the comments box too much, if at all, or perhaps learn haiku.


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