Noble Silence

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Noble Silence is a term attributed to the Buddha Gautama, for his reported responses to certain questions about reality. One such instance is when he was asked the fourteen unanswerable questions. In similar situations he often responded to antinomy-based descriptions of reality by saying that both antithetical options presented to him were inappropriate.

This does not indicate misology or disdain for philosophy on the Buddha's part. Rather, it indicates that he viewed these questions as not leading to true knowledge.[1] Dependent origination is one of the Buddha's great contributions to philosophy, and provides a framework for analysis of reality that is not based on metaphysical assumptions regarding existence or non-existence, but instead on direct cognition of phenomena as they are presented to the mind. This informs and supports the Buddhist approach to liberation via ethical and meditative training known as the Noble Eightfold Path.

Pali Canon[edit]

While silence is generally thought to be something observable on the outside of a person, an external state, whether they are talking, in the Pali Canon noble is an internal state which is synonymous with jhana.

"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, [1] 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.'"[2]

Of the eight jhanas, in the second jhana is when the inner dialog goes silent during meditation.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gadjin M. Nagao, Madhyamika and Yogachara. Leslie S. Kawamura, translator, SUNY Press, Albany 1991, pages 40-41.
  2. ^ "Kolita Sutta: Kolita". Access To Insight. 2012. Retrieved 15 February 2016.