Silent contemplation is the central element in the life of monks, but sitting in silence is not practiced only in monasteries. It is, on the contrary, a natural part of life in the East, whenever it respects the old traditions. But even in the East, only those who know what they are looking for find the greatest treasure it has to offer: contact with what we really are.
All the masters tell us that the reality of life -- which our noisy waking consciousness prevents us from hearing -- speaks to us chiefly in silence. D.T. Suzuki:
"In the working of the Eastern mind, there is something calm, quiet, silent, undisturbable, which appears as if always looking into eternity. This quietude and silence, however, does not point to mere idleness or inactivity. It is the silence of an 'eternal abyss' in which all contrasts and conditions are buried; it is the silence of God who, deeply absorbed in contemplation of his works past, present, and future, sits calmly on his throne of absolute oneness and allness. Woe unto those who take it for decadence and death, for they will be overwhelmed by an overwhelming outburst of activity out of the eternal silence."