Silence is powerful. It saves you from lies. But more importantly, it takes you to the truth.
By silence, I mean not merely refraining from talking. It is something deeper. It is allowing your mind to settle down and freeing it from worldly noise. Words are often carriers of that noise. In silence, externally there is an absence of talk and internally there is calm of mind.
Of course we need words to live our everyday lives. We need to talk in some way. But that is only for the sake of convenience.
Reality is almost always distorted when we try to express it in words. If you say ice-cream is sweet, some truth of the ice-cream’s taste is lost already. For me it may be sweet like chocolate, for my mother it may be sweet like honey, and for a farmer in Sarlahi it may be sweet like the sugarcane he grows. For a nomadic Raute of Jajarkot, it will just be some incomprehensible sound.
The truth of ice-cream’s taste can never be fully told in words. It has to be tasted.
Likewise, every reality that we talk about can only be partially expressed in words. To understand it properly, we have to experience it in the depths of our minds. Words have no place there. The same applies to this piece of writing. It can only partially point to a tiny aspect of truth.
We can try using qualifiers. To make people understand what sweet means, we may say ‘sweet like the toffee you had yesterday’. But again there is a problem. If I had a sour mood yesterday, the ice-cream’s sweetness would be ‘unpleasant’ for me. If I was suffering from mouth ulcers and couldn't properly taste the toffee, then the ice-cream’s sweetness would be ‘dull’.
So the best way to tell the truth about the ice-cream is to let people taste it! But we still need to use words; they can at least give people some idea about reality.
Enlightened masters have always used silence to tell the truth about things deep and profound. Ramana Maharshi was famous for his silence. He answered people’s questions without speaking a word. People would just sit in front of him with a hundred questions in their brains. After a while they would get their answers. There was no utterance of words. There are many instances when people went to the Buddha with questions, and they got answers when the Buddha just meditated in silence.
At their best, words may be imperfect pointers to the truth. Isn’t it a good idea that we take them for what they are worth?