Silence cannot make a master out of a fool.
This is a strange statement from a Buddha, because silence has been praised so much but the Buddha says the truth as it is. He does not care about the tradition.
In India, silence has been one of the most praised qualities for centuries. The Jaina monk is called muni—muni means “the silent one.” His whole effort is to be silent, more and more silent. Buddha says, “But don’t be a fool, just silence is not going to help.” It may help you keep your foolishness to yourself, but the foolishness will go on accumulating, and sooner or later it will be too much. It is bound to come out, and it is better to let it come out in small doses every day rather than accumulating it, and then having it come like a flood.
This has been my observation, too. The people who have remained silent for a long time become very stupid, because their silence is only on the surface. Deep down there is turmoil. Deep down they are the same people, with greed, jealousy, envy, hatred, violence—unconscious, with all kinds of desires. Maybe now they are desirous of the other world, greedy for the other world, thinking more of paradise than of this world and the earth. But it is the same thing, projected onto a bigger screen, projected on eternity. In fact, the greed has grown a thousand fold. First it was for small things: money, power, prestige. Now it is for God, Samadhi, nirvana. It has become more condensed and more dangerous.
Then what has to be done? If silence cannot make a master out of a fool, then what can make one a master? Awareness. And the miracle is, if you become aware, silence follows you like a shadow.
But then that silence is not practiced; it comes of its own accord. And when silence comes of its own accord, it has a tremendous beauty to it. It is alive, it has a song at its innermost core. It is loving, it is blissful. It is not empty; on the contrary, it is plenitude. You are so full that you can bless the whole world and yet your sources remain inexhaustible; you can go on giving, and you will not be able to exhaust the source. But it happens through awareness.
That is Buddha’s very significant contribution, his emphasis on awareness. Silence become secondary, silence become a by-product.
One does not make silence a goal—the goal is awareness.