Beyond the Column

Larry's LaRue-minations

A Buddhist monk quiz: How long could you go silent?

Post by Larry Larue / The News Tribune on May 1, 2013 at 8:51 am with No Comments »
May 1, 2013 8:55 am
Dr. Barry Kerzin
Dr. Barry Kerzin

Inteviewing Dr. Barry Kerzin, who became the personal physician to the Dalai Lama – and a Buddhist monk – was a pleasure, but it did make me wonder.

The subject of today’s column, Dr. Kerzin said he’d just recharged his batteries with a two-month silent retreat, and that after his ordination as a monk in 2003, he’d spent ‘years’ in silent meditation.


How long have most of us gone without speaking in our lives? How long could we go if we were willing to try?

A few years ago, with my wife out of town with family, I took a four-day trip around the Olympic Peninsula, camping and hiking Hurricane Ridge, the Hoh Rain Forrest, the Quinault Rain Forrest. I found that hiking those trails was somehow more intense without talking. Not better, necessarily, but a different experience than hiking it with family or friends.

I don’t think I spoke to anyone in those four days, though it’s possible I said ‘hello’ to someone I passed. And the experience was meditative, if not meditation.

Dr. Kerzin has found his life’s joy as a Buddhist monk, and is willing to share what he’s learned with others, as he will tomorrow night at the University of Washington in Tacoma. If you’re interested, the event is free.

Out of curiosity, how long have you gone without speaking, and what were the circumstances?

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