Silence! Pack Him A Sandwich

Akram Khan, Copenhagen, 2010


If someone stops by your door and asks: ‘What is Truth?’, you pack him a sandwich, show him the ‘Backward Step’, and suggest that he watch-out for falling rocks and deceptively shallow puddles. Other than that, you don’t say a word.

If you must say a word, it may only be as Self-Eating Expression. And its limit is as the Symbol ‘0’.

‘Silence’ [Mounam] has a long history going back to the Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad and the mystic Mantra AUM. The late-stage teachings were Rahásya, ‘Secret’. [‘Mute’ as in ‘Silent’, is from the Sanskrit Mūka]

But ‘Silence’ is also the ripest plum for mystical obscurantists and book-read teachers who have had a field-day with the word for centuries. They can mystify a brick but this one is a particularly rich lode.


Neti! Neti!‘ shouted Yagnavalkya. The Buddha famously held his Silence [Avyākṛta, Anirvacaniya] to all questions about the terminus.

Vimalakirti; 705-780 CE; Donhuang Caves, China

Vimalakīrti, a man I would have related to, liked to spend his evenings at the cat-houses and casinos of the vibrant old city of Vaishali [now long dead, having been overrun by Religion].

Asked to ‘Explain the door to Non-Dual Understanding’, he stood silent. ‘Vimalakirti’s Lion’s Roar’ [Vimalakirt Sūtra].

Well-penetrated Zen Koans never posit a name for the denouement. It is part of the same tradition.


Truth as understood and embraced today has nothing at all to do with Silence. Quite the opposite. Truth is what the Man with the loudest Megaphone says it is. The Man with the largest following on Twitter and Facebook speaks the Truth.


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