Silence as a Practice of Nothingness

In yesterday’s DM we considered the apophatic side of Divinity, the limits of language to name the Great Mystery or what Eckhart called “the ocean of God’s unfathomableness.”  We also considered Estelle Frankel’s endorsement of the “wisdom of Not Knowing” and silence, therefore. 

Nothing so like God as silence. Photo by Adam Derewecki from Pixabay

If God is Nothingness (among other things), silence can be a door into God, an opening to the divine.

Indeed, Eckhart says “nothing in all creation is so like God as silence.”  For Eckhart silence is a requisite for listening deeply to the “Word of God” that dwells within us all.  Says Eckhart: The Word lies hidden in the soul, unknown and unheard unless room is made for it in the ground of hearing, otherwise it is not heard. All voices and sounds must cease and there must be pure stillness within, a still silence.  Stillness leads to an encounter with the Divine.

There are many kinds of silence.  Sometimes we are silent out of ignorance; sometimes out of fear or timidity or shyness; sometimes out of guilt (one bigshot this past week took the fifth amendment in a court trial 440 times lest he incriminate himself). 

The Buddha in silent repose. Photo by RKTKN on Unsplash

But, as Maria Montessori teaches, humans can “make silence”—and children ought to do so.  Another name for “making silence” is meditation or contemplation. Buddhism offers multiple meditation practices to empty the mind of thoughts. It also has lots to say about the nothingness and unknowability of God. Says Thich Nhat Hanh: 

It is impossible to use our concepts and words to describe God…. It’s very wise not to say anything about God. To me the best theologian is the one who never speaks about God.

Meister Eckhart is in full agreement when he says: The most beautiful thing which a person can say about God would be for that person to remain silent from the wisdom of an inner wealth. So, be silent and quit flapping your gums about God.

Finding God in the silence. Photo by Spencer Selover from Pexels

Eckhart urges us to enter into deep silence to find God. It is best, he says, “to maintain total silence about that which is the source of all things.” This is meditation, this is mindfulness.  To be continued

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God…Including the Unnameable God, pp. 134f., 137.
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner image: Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Are you at home with silence?  Do you practice silence in reaching out to what Eckhart calls “the source of all things” and “Nothingness” and the “Ocean of unfathomableness”?

Recommended Reading

Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God …Including the Unnameable God

Too often, notions of God have been used as a means to control and to promote a narrow worldview. In Naming the Unnameable, renowned theologian and author Matthew Fox ignites our imaginations by offering a colorful range of Divine Names gathered from scientists and poets and mystics past and present, inviting us to always begin where true spirituality begins: from experience.
“This book is timely, important and admirably brief; it is also open ended—there are always more names to come, and none can exhaust God’s nature.” -Rupert Sheldrake, PhD, author of Science Set Free and The Presence of the Past

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Share this meditation


Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox is made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation

Search Meditations





Receive our daily meditations

18 thoughts on “Silence as a Practice of Nothingness”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    To help moderate the volume of responses, the Comment field is limited to 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the day’s Meditation. 
    As always, we look forward to your comments!!
    The Daily Meditation Team

  2. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you begin with this quotation by Eckhart: “nothing in all creation is so like God as silence.” You mentioned the image of the ocean for God’s unfathomableness yesterday, but in this silence I see the image of outer space where everything is silent… Furthermore you show us that silence is the prerequisite for hearing the Word of God within us, otherwise it is not heard and you say, “another name for ‘making silence’ is meditation or contemplation. Thich Nhat Hanh even goes so far to say,: “It is impossible to use our concepts and words to describe God…. It’s very wise not to say anything about God. To me the best theologian is the one who never speaks about God.” You ask us: “Are you at home with silence?” Yes, and that’s why my time for contemplation is so important to me. And thank you for quoting one of my favorites from Eckhart: “The most beautiful thing which a person can say about God would be for that person to remain silent from the wisdom of an inner wealth. So, be silent and quit flapping your gums about God.”

  3. Avatar

    Two of my favorite Upanishads: ‘There are two ways of knowing reality: One is through sound and the other is through silence. It is through sound that we arrive at silence….And that sound is Aum (OM). (Maitri Upanishad (6.22))’ ..and “He who thinks he knows it (The Tat/ The One) doesn’t know It. He who doesn’t think he knows It..knows It (The Tat/the One’) (for me meditation is the suspension of all knowing…Through the silent moments…and sometimes hearing the whispers of Spirit speaking to my spirit within.. through the suspension of all naming of the One from which we came) The experience of coming Home…Om. as per the silence…..Paul Simon and ART Garfunkel’s song” The Sound of Silence” comes to mind in lieu of our sensory experiences of the world.

  4. Avatar

    Life proceeds by balancing giving/receiving, wakefulness/sleep, solitude/community, yin/yang, hunger and satiety, etc. Too much imbalance between the poles can make one capsize. Likewise, with doing and being. Being entails absolute stillness, the cessation of all voluntary activities ending in “ing,” like thinking and speaking. Pure being is silent, and silence is the doorway to higher realms of being that have more being. Higher planes are not more abstract, but each ascending plane is vaster, more concrete and real than the one below. The silent ascent allows clearer revisions from the way they appear on planes more restricted. Lower planes are the realm of divine effects and separation consciousness, a junkyard of metaphors for the divine that point to God’s Being, but existing as somewhere separate from them (and us). There, it appears God is hiding in things, suggesting his presence as one clearing his throat. Higher planes reveal God is not hiding at all, but present as the innermost and outermost of all things on an ever-ascending scale of Being, like octaves on a musical scale.

  5. Avatar

    I am totally comfortable with silence… which I engage with in the beauty of nature mostly. I’ve become a nocturnal creature… as working the night shift, my day begins… greeting the darkness, the moon and the stars… when the hustle and bustle of the movements of the day begin to settle into quiet restful sleep. During my breaks I always go outside… into the still, quiet silence of the early morning hours. In this deep, dark silence I am wrapped in a blanket of peace. In this stillness, it’s as if I’m in the womb of the Cosmic Mother… hearing only the rhythmic beats of our hearts joined together as One steady pulse. Meditatively I go about my nightly tasks of preparing things for the day yet to come… responding to the occassional bell that sounds… an elders call in need. My day ends, as slowly the dawn arises… with the birds breaking the silence, with a song of praise. As the first rays of light kiss the horizon, the world begins to resonate with the sounds of awakening… and I travel home… make a cup of tea… engage with the DM’s… then I draw the blinds and return to the darknesss and silence of this sacred place. I am the blessing of the hidden one… which mostly no one sees.

    1. Avatar

      I love this so much!! Gives me so much clarity,peace,and wisdom to night shift nursing and my connection with Divinity. Thank you Jeanette. With lots of gratitude to you and Mr. Matthew Fox?

  6. Avatar

    Yes, I am at home with silence. As a member of, we’re encouraged to spiritually practice silent centering prayer at least 2xs a day for about 20 mins. I have faith that it is an essential practice on the contemplative spiritual journey of my soul towards Being~becoming Loving Diverse Oneness with others, Sacred Mother Earth, and All of God’s multiverse co-Creation~Evolution in our Cosmos, our Beautiful Beloved Cosmic Christ Consciousness mysteriously within~among us, the Loving Ground of All Being….

    1. Avatar

      Thank you, Damian. How is it I didn’t know about and it’s many spiritual offerings? I now plan to join one of the group’s daily or weekly meditation groups.

  7. Avatar

    Capital “YES”. I love the silence, for it is in silence that I have the most intimate of covenantal relationships with that which is commonly labeled as God….that which has uncountable names….and wears many, many costumes.
    In the silence I truly recognize who is “giver” and who is “receiver”, and sometimes the roles reverse in a divine intimacy of exchange. YES, silence is a profound gift and I’m so grateful that the mystics, prophets, seers, saints, etc. in many faith traditions and practices knew and know how to commune in the silence. ” May all beings be blessed!”

  8. Avatar

    Serenity’, the fragrance of pure silent sound has been depicted through the symbol of Aum along with a shloka from the Mandukya Upanishad: Esa Sarvesvara Esa Sarvajna, Esontaryamy. Esa Yonih Sarvasya Prabhavapyayau Hi Bhutanam
    Of all sciences, “I’m the spiritual science of the Self and the ultimate Truth for logicians.” the delightful sound of Aum vibrating within us is the ultimate truth and it plays only when everything else disappears from your being and you have become calm. But you cannot reach that state by simply chanting Aum as a mantra, because the mind is still functioning when you are repeating it.
    “There is no need to repeat it but simply be silent and listen to it. As your mind becomes calm and quiet, suddenly you will become aware: like a whisper, Aum is arising within your being. When it arises on its own, it has a totally different quality. And the moment you are able to hear it, you have entered into the very secrets of existence

Leave a Comment

To help moderate the volume of responses, the Comment field is limited to 1500 characters (roughly 300 words), with one comment per person per day.

Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the day's Meditation.

As always, we look forward to your comments!!
The Daily Meditation Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join us in meditation that supports your compassionate action

Receive Matthew Fox's Daily Meditation by subscribing below: