Vow of Silence
Why is it that many monks choose to commit to a vow of silence? The level of commitment that that takes is heavy. It means that even the most casual and menial effort at communication with others becomes a major challenge. One does not take up such a challenge without the possibility of a significant payoff.
I would suggest that the payoff for such a vow has to do with the kinds of knowledge that are only accessible through the kind of intense introspection that you are forced to engage in when you have committed to not speaking at all under any circumstances.
When you make that kind of commitment, you are forced to listen and observe yourself and others. Unless and until you have chosen to listen and observe more than speak, you are highly vulnerable to hypocrisy and ignorance. So many people view others as their enemies, and sometimes, such an estimation of others has some validity; but what they forget is that they can be their own worst enemies when they fail to attend to the content of their own souls. I think that is what a vow of silence is really about.
Some Notes on “Vow of Silence”
This piece is a simple improvisation that I did for electronic keyboard. It is mostly tonal, with some whole-tonality sections. The piece is binary, with a musical motif followed by a development section. It is heavily melodic, rather than rhythmic. It does have a shifting time signature. There is very little polyphony; the piece instead focuses on the harmonic content.
I created this piece in such a way as to capture a sense of rich, silent introversion. To do that, I used an electronic keyboard sound pallet, which doesn’t have any sharp edges, and I used a musical texture that focused on harmony and melody, rather than rhythm.