The Sharpened Quill

Caitlin Kelly

Caitlin Kelly
Tarrytown, NY, USA
December 31
non-fiction author/speaker/consultant
Bio Author "Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail" (Portfolio, April 2011), deemed "an excellent memoir" by Entertainment Weekly. Out in paperback July 31, 2012. I also edit other writers' work -- everything from thrillers to business books. Email me for hourly rates; references available.

Caitlin Kelly's Links

JULY 27, 2011 7:11PM

The Sounds Of A Silent Buddhist Retreat

Rate: 4 Flag

Spending nine days at a Buddhist retreat where the only speech allowed is when we question the lamas and teachers. Otherwise, we are spending the time in what is called Noble Silence.

This is what I hear:

 The humming of fans

Kids' shouting and laughter from the nearby park

The gurgle/splash of tea/coffee filling a mug

A bullfrog at the pond



The scrape of a chair against the floor

Gunfire -- target practice across the river at West Point?


Wind in the trees

A lawnmower

The scrape of the greenhouse door against the slate doorstep

The thunk of a softball landing in my mitt (What is the sound of one glove snapping?)

The beep-beep-beep of a delivery truck

Someone tapping stone

The ribbit-ribbit-ribbit of frogs in the dark

An occasional airplane

The shushing of a riverside waterfall on the opposite bank

The flapping of flip-flops

The sweetie's breathing in the  bed next to me

The rustle of foliage as a bad bunny eats the garden's lettuce

The echoing horn of a freight train on the opposite shore

The commuter train thundering up and down the valley

The buzzing of motor boats on the Hudson River below

The whine of mosquitoes


Bees buzzing in the lavender beds

The pealing of the hand bell used to signal prayers, meditations, teachings and meals

The clinking of cutlery against china at mealtime

The whoosh of the dishwasher's hose

The ringing of the gong to start meditation

The clicking of mala beads

Om Mane Padme Hung and other Buddhist chants

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What an extraordinary time for you to have been away from the world, as it exploded into terror. It's interesting to remove oneself and not remember what day it is. Not that it matters right now.
i've never been to a retreat - and frankly, wonder if i could do it - but am fascinated by the idea. lovely post, caitlin. i can hear each sound as i read each line. and i *know* that bad bunny. :)
I hope this was
intended to be
hilarious? Yes?

This was great.
I heard horsefly.
The gnat said`
Sunday tours include
volunteer` silent vow
tours of hells from heaven.
A 'Alice' in wonderland say?
"We can hear a rocking creak.
Horse fly fall off rocking horse.
And red ambulance siren scream.
Great read. Visit Vegas. Play slots.
Drink Scotch. Gamble at Black Jack.
tao can be said to say this:
into the situation at hand.
let it settle out.
from this,
be like
one crossing wintery icy river.

be alert.

well done
tao can be said to say this:
into the situation at hand.
let it settle out.
from this,
be like
one crossing wintery icy river.

be alert.

well done
Candace, it's interesting...if you're curious, come visit my other blog where I've written more and will be posting again before we leave;

I think anyone can do it and enjoy it. I think you have to be able to amuse yourself with reading, writing, photography, long walks, painting...You quickly realize how tiring it is listening to people all day long, as we normally do.
By the end of the weekend retreat I went to I found myself revitalized to an extent that I haven't matched with anything else but meditation and quiet. I felt my heart like I never have before, thumping away.
Thanks for this.
Rita, thanks.

We are now home after 8 days of silence. Can't remember ever having been so calm either.