Why do some Monks take a Vow of Silence?

What exactly is a vow of silence? A vow of silence is a very personal, and completely voluntary promise to stop speaking to anything or anyone. There are many reasons to take a vow like this, all over the world. Often enough, people might associate this concept with Religion, and religious faiths. The length of the vow depends on the reason and overall purpose. Many people take this vow of refraining from any speech with commonly shared reasons, such as concentration, contemplation, forgiveness, sadness, repentance, the desire to give up, adhere and control, and refrain from arguments or political viewpoints.

What is the duration of a vow of silence exactly? The amount of time poured into this act of silence can strongly vary in between people and different reasons for taking action. Permanently enduring this vow is extremely rare, but there are people who have taken this on and succeeded. Most Monks plan on doing this for a set amount of time. This amount of time could be anywhere in between a year or a day. Many people engage in a ‘lesser’ silence. Something like this may just last from morning prayers to evening prayers, or even simply but a few hours.

What are the main purposes and goals of undergoing this vow? Usually, when someone takes this vow, their main goal is to bring something like religious contemplation into the light. One might typically believe that when one stops speaking at all, they will be forced to search inwardly. This is what they believe to be forced contemplation of the inner soul. In theory, now that the general distractions of conversation with other people have been removed, one will be much more inclined to focus on aspects of their own personal and inner life. Lots of people who agree with and understand this aspect of silence, also understand that God does not directly communicate with words — and that his voice may sound in one’s heart through meditative silences.

Sometimes Monks and Nuns may go through with this for repentance. Often, ordinary people will stop talking to show someone else that they may have offended just exactly how sorry they feel. It is almost a way of dealing with the guilt instilled with doing something wrong. However, if the person feels that forgiveness has been relayed back to them, their silence may end there.

Others may do this as a type of substitute for material sacrifices that they have made. Now, this is probably more common for people of Religious faith. They carry out this vow to live simpler, and in a more minimalistic fashion. In some cases, one may focus on the principle that too many ‘things’ can make it difficult to be active in the Religion that they are attempting to fully engage with. Many tasks and responsibilities come hand in hand with having many material possessions. For example, when someone gives up something that they very much care for, it can be made easier to focus on the internal life — and silence, in turn, is an additional sacrifice.