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Biography of Silence: An Essay on Meditation

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A publishing phenomenon in Spain: a moving, lyrical, far-ranging meditation on the deep joys of confronting oneself through silence by a Spanish priest and Zen disciple. With silence increasingly becoming a stranger to us, one man set out to become its intimate: Pablo d'Ors, a Catholic priest whose life was changed by Zen meditation. With disarming honesty and directness, a A publishing phenomenon in Spain: a moving, lyrical, far-ranging meditation on the deep joys of confronting oneself through silence by a Spanish priest and Zen disciple. With silence increasingly becoming a stranger to us, one man set out to become its intimate: Pablo d'Ors, a Catholic priest whose life was changed by Zen meditation. With disarming honesty and directness, as well as a striking clarity of language, d'Ors shares his struggles as a beginning meditator: the tedium, restlessness, and distraction. But, persevering, the author discovers not only a deep peace and understanding of his true nature, but also that silence, rather than being a retreat from life, offers us an intense engagement with life just as it is. Imbued with a rare beauty, Biography of Silence shows us the deep joy of silence that is available to us all.


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A publishing phenomenon in Spain: a moving, lyrical, far-ranging meditation on the deep joys of confronting oneself through silence by a Spanish priest and Zen disciple. With silence increasingly becoming a stranger to us, one man set out to become its intimate: Pablo d'Ors, a Catholic priest whose life was changed by Zen meditation. With disarming honesty and directness, a A publishing phenomenon in Spain: a moving, lyrical, far-ranging meditation on the deep joys of confronting oneself through silence by a Spanish priest and Zen disciple. With silence increasingly becoming a stranger to us, one man set out to become its intimate: Pablo d'Ors, a Catholic priest whose life was changed by Zen meditation. With disarming honesty and directness, as well as a striking clarity of language, d'Ors shares his struggles as a beginning meditator: the tedium, restlessness, and distraction. But, persevering, the author discovers not only a deep peace and understanding of his true nature, but also that silence, rather than being a retreat from life, offers us an intense engagement with life just as it is. Imbued with a rare beauty, Biography of Silence shows us the deep joy of silence that is available to us all.

30 review for Biography of Silence: An Essay on Meditation

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    This book began slowly for me. It is utterly different from the banter of Dan Harris's new book, "Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics." I like both of these books, although I won't finish Harris's book before I leave for vacation. d'Ors book is so much quieter and more intense and pared down. There isn't as much humor or chattiness (which feels very different from meditation to me). As I grew used to the intensity and pace of Biography of Silence, I grew to love it more and more. I need to own this This book began slowly for me. It is utterly different from the banter of Dan Harris's new book, "Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics." I like both of these books, although I won't finish Harris's book before I leave for vacation. d'Ors book is so much quieter and more intense and pared down. There isn't as much humor or chattiness (which feels very different from meditation to me). As I grew used to the intensity and pace of Biography of Silence, I grew to love it more and more. I need to own this book, so I can absorb it slowly. It really is extraordinary. The author's meditation teacher is humorous and grave, indulgent and strict. d'Ors, himself, who was a priest who seems now to be married. Here's a passage that rang true for me: "You are either conscious of your anger, of your nerves, of your worries; or your anger, your nerves and your worries run you. It is that simple: if you do not think about them, they will think for you and they will take you where you do not want to go. Ask yourself why you are angered, where your worry has sprung from, and how it is that you have become so nervous. You will find out that this inquiry turns out to be very curious and even fun. To be what one is has become the greatest challenge." I like the passage, and it seems to contradict the point of meditation as it is described in other of these short essays. I wondered sometimes about the translation, as well as the contradiction within the author's presentation. But I do get that that "being who one is...which at times is described as "being consciousness" ...seems to be the ultimate goal. Here's another passage I was struck by: "Meditation...is a practice of reunion, reunification. We want to be with ourselves. Our habitual unconsciousness avoids it, but our deepest conscious knows it. "Having practiced silence in Quaker Meeting and in Quaker classrooms, I know it can be powerful, even for children. I also know it can be tedious, or boring for them if they have now sense of the possibilities. Since I've always been curious about the possible uses and goals of silence (whether is is Quaker practice or Tibetan Buddhist practice), the book is intriguing to me. I'll definitely buy a copy. Ellen's review contained this quotation from the book, which I also found wonderful. "The Discovery of Disappointment is our primary teacher. Everything that disappoints us is a friend."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Daphyne

    In 100 pages, Pablo d’Ors writes 40 or so reflections on meditation. As a catholic priest, I expected Christianity to influence his musings, or at least syncretism of Christianity & Eastern mysticism, but this is straight up Buddhist & Gnostic thought. If you are looking for a secular book on becoming one with the universe and happy in yourself, then this is for you. The author’s writing is beautiful, just far outside of my expectations.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ariestess

    What an absolutely fascinating book! I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I first saw it at the library and picked it up on a whim, but I thought it sounded interesting. And it actually was quite interesting. It's a very dense book and took me some time to really read and absorb the information. There were several points where I hated that it wasn't my own copy to mark up, so I'll probably grab a copy at some point and do a reread. I know I'll definitely need a reread just because I'm sure What an absolutely fascinating book! I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I first saw it at the library and picked it up on a whim, but I thought it sounded interesting. And it actually was quite interesting. It's a very dense book and took me some time to really read and absorb the information. There were several points where I hated that it wasn't my own copy to mark up, so I'll probably grab a copy at some point and do a reread. I know I'll definitely need a reread just because I'm sure there's stuff I missed along the way.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This small book was a total impulse choice at the library. I was a bit surprised by how much I liked it. The essays are both deeply personal as well as written by someone with such spiritual/emotional knowledge as to make it often feel quite universal. Yet a thought that kept nagging me as I read was -- how universal is this, really? What privileges of privacy, stability, self-direction afforded to a priest/author are not applicable to the common reader? And how many of his claims of the univers This small book was a total impulse choice at the library. I was a bit surprised by how much I liked it. The essays are both deeply personal as well as written by someone with such spiritual/emotional knowledge as to make it often feel quite universal. Yet a thought that kept nagging me as I read was -- how universal is this, really? What privileges of privacy, stability, self-direction afforded to a priest/author are not applicable to the common reader? And how many of his claims of the universal accessibility and benefits of meditation do not consider limitations of poverty and mental illness? It's easy to say that such issues are beyond the scope of this tiny book, but still, they weighed on my mind. Even as I both enjoyed this book and found it persuasive. So much so that I instigated a joint meditation practice with a friend. Which fell apart within a few weeks, more because new habits are hard than any judgement or lack of appreciation of the meditation itself. A lovely book. I might be tempted to read more by d'Ors should translations become available.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

    My Best takeaway from the read: "The Discovery of Disappointment is our primary teacher. Everything that disappoint us is a friend." My Best takeaway from the read: "The Discovery of Disappointment is our primary teacher. Everything that disappoint us is a friend."

  6. 4 out of 5

    John

    I found d'Ors metaphors apt--as when he extends one about diving below the tip of an iceberg. I found his appeal for meditation thoughtful. I found his reflective style gentle and approachable. But beneath it all, betraying my own secular setting, I found his ability to spend hours a day in silence, his taking of a seaside vacation, his vocation of writing for a living, a bit "rich." He's a priest, he has no need to worry about his next meal or how his rent will be earned. His clerical status is I found d'Ors metaphors apt--as when he extends one about diving below the tip of an iceberg. I found his appeal for meditation thoughtful. I found his reflective style gentle and approachable. But beneath it all, betraying my own secular setting, I found his ability to spend hours a day in silence, his taking of a seaside vacation, his vocation of writing for a living, a bit "rich." He's a priest, he has no need to worry about his next meal or how his rent will be earned. His clerical status is barely alluded to directly, but certainly, his rare position in advising us needs to be noted. Sure, he's a professional, like a psychologist or consultant we call in to ask about ourselves. And we need those devoted to this as their own career, to help the rest of us within the "rest of the world." But the sneaking sense of privilege may only reveal my own weakness which, if I took this book to heart, might change me as it apparently has others who have largely praised it. Reminds me of the tension in Emmanuel Carrere's The Kingdom, where one like me gazes at those with more conviction and more fervor than oneself.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Raúl

    This is a good, concise book about the basics of meditation from a pretty unexpected author, a Spanish jesuit priest. The book is an easy and engaging read and all of the author's points are well-described and exemplified with elegance. Of course it is not the most in-depth study on the matter (you can read the book in a couple hours) but leaves you wanting for more and willing to invest more in meditation. This turns out to be its greatest triumph in my view. I would recommend this book to anybo This is a good, concise book about the basics of meditation from a pretty unexpected author, a Spanish jesuit priest. The book is an easy and engaging read and all of the author's points are well-described and exemplified with elegance. Of course it is not the most in-depth study on the matter (you can read the book in a couple hours) but leaves you wanting for more and willing to invest more in meditation. This turns out to be its greatest triumph in my view. I would recommend this book to anybody interested in zen buddism or our thought processes in general.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Nice little book for those thinking about starting to meditate. Basic introduction to the benefits of meditation. If like me, you've been meditating for years, it probably isn't an enlightening book. The writing isn't bad but it isn't stellar either. I will hand it to d'Ors, he keeps a very simple writing that makes the reading very easy. That in itself is quite an achievement when reading meditation books. Nice little book for those thinking about starting to meditate. Basic introduction to the benefits of meditation. If like me, you've been meditating for years, it probably isn't an enlightening book. The writing isn't bad but it isn't stellar either. I will hand it to d'Ors, he keeps a very simple writing that makes the reading very easy. That in itself is quite an achievement when reading meditation books.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ornella

    A short, consistent and relatable narration about meditation. I enjoyed the simple yet profound experiences D'Ors takes us into. I'd say its very suitable for anyone interested in having an introduction to meditation, specially for those of us with western backgrounds. A short, consistent and relatable narration about meditation. I enjoyed the simple yet profound experiences D'Ors takes us into. I'd say its very suitable for anyone interested in having an introduction to meditation, specially for those of us with western backgrounds.

  10. 5 out of 5

    José Ortiz

    Great book to encorage you to meditate, it doesn't explain how to meditate, it's not a book to teach but to encorage. The author tells his story with meditation. Great book to encorage you to meditate, it doesn't explain how to meditate, it's not a book to teach but to encorage. The author tells his story with meditation.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Pere Garau

    Insightful, not very practical though

  12. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    I will return to this again and again for poetic reminders of why I sit.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alvaro Cobian

    Worth reading. Short but deep in content. Thoughts and conclusions by Pablo d'Ors are unpretentious, but they invite you to reflexion. Worth reading. Short but deep in content. Thoughts and conclusions by Pablo d'Ors are unpretentious, but they invite you to reflexion.

  14. 5 out of 5

    John Girard

    Instant favorite!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ted

    Please read this instead of "the power of now". Clear. Concise. An unassuming introduction to the whole point of meditation and what ails most of us. Please read this instead of "the power of now". Clear. Concise. An unassuming introduction to the whole point of meditation and what ails most of us.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kiruha

    In this brief book I've found passages worth observing, and others far from what I'd consider to do myself. Its division in forty-nine chapters makes it fit for a paused reading (one bit at a time) because each of them focuses more or less on a defined topic. I followed this rhythm during only half of my reading, but I do acknowledge that the book's content is most useful if read with a bit of thought dedicated to each part—but not because I'd consider to adopt and follow most of its concepts or In this brief book I've found passages worth observing, and others far from what I'd consider to do myself. Its division in forty-nine chapters makes it fit for a paused reading (one bit at a time) because each of them focuses more or less on a defined topic. I followed this rhythm during only half of my reading, but I do acknowledge that the book's content is most useful if read with a bit of thought dedicated to each part—but not because I'd consider to adopt and follow most of its concepts or practices. I'm inexperienced with this kind of writing and hence can't say how similarly the message has been written before, but it's definitely a biography of the author's experience. Though there are paragraphs useful for a little personal growth there is also a lot that I leave as D'Ors' opinion or preference. It catches my eye that in one chapter he speaks of writing, or another artistic activity, being "produced by itself" when the author is invested in and focused on it, and it does feel that Biografía del Silencio was written with the flow. In any case the way with which he finds meaning is expressed openly and clearly.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ivelise

    I'm on page 75 and so far I've been enjoying reading this book at a slow pace. I like to meditate after i read a few pages every day, i like absorbing the words and relate them to my practice and my daily life. However, when i got to page 72 Pablo says "Pain stop being so painful when you get used to it" - but i don't ever want to get used to pain. I don't ever want to live in an emotion that doesn't feel good. perhaps, i misunderstood and have to read the chapter over again, but is getting used I'm on page 75 and so far I've been enjoying reading this book at a slow pace. I like to meditate after i read a few pages every day, i like absorbing the words and relate them to my practice and my daily life. However, when i got to page 72 Pablo says "Pain stop being so painful when you get used to it" - but i don't ever want to get used to pain. I don't ever want to live in an emotion that doesn't feel good. perhaps, i misunderstood and have to read the chapter over again, but is getting used to pain ok, then getting used to pleasure should also be ok. That's what i call balance. isn't what practicing meditation is about - finding the balance between pain & pleasure and accepting both as part of life.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Margarita

    Starts out gangbusters but then goes on to make sexist Christian religious metaphors and becomes definitely a man's point of view. I don't know that a woman who meditates thinks she should go off to enjoy life by having lots of babies, for example, as Mr. d'Ors seems to suggest for himself. Hard to read after that. Starts out gangbusters but then goes on to make sexist Christian religious metaphors and becomes definitely a man's point of view. I don't know that a woman who meditates thinks she should go off to enjoy life by having lots of babies, for example, as Mr. d'Ors seems to suggest for himself. Hard to read after that.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Barbara M

    A beautiful and deeply meaningful little book about the joy of silence and meditation. The author, Pablo d'Ors is a Catholic priest and Zen master. It reads like poetry. I have been meditating for over 20 years and have read a lot of books about meditation. I really LOVED this book! It is a gem! A beautiful and deeply meaningful little book about the joy of silence and meditation. The author, Pablo d'Ors is a Catholic priest and Zen master. It reads like poetry. I have been meditating for over 20 years and have read a lot of books about meditation. I really LOVED this book! It is a gem!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Steve Brock

    This book was a Best of the Best for the month of March, 2019, as selected by Stevo's Book Reviews on the Internet. http://forums.delphiforums.com/stevo1.... Search for me on Google for many more reviews and recommendations. This book was a Best of the Best for the month of March, 2019, as selected by Stevo's Book Reviews on the Internet. http://forums.delphiforums.com/stevo1.... Search for me on Google for many more reviews and recommendations.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Thea

    I did not finish this book. Instead I read it to a point that I was inspired to realize my own journey developing a mindfulness habit. The author wrote with a poetic self awareness that I couldn’t always connect with, but reinforced the idea that one’s journey is deeply personal.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amy Cobb

    Very interesting book. I did not agree with everything in it, but I’m a strong believer in educating yourself with information from different world views. It is very dense and contains thought-provoking points in nearly every sentence. Short book, but it takes time.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sergio Pedro

    The book repeats itself until unconsciousness. There's nothing new or capable of being helpful. Loose memoires of a guy enjoying his meditation. Extremely poor. The book repeats itself until unconsciousness. There's nothing new or capable of being helpful. Loose memoires of a guy enjoying his meditation. Extremely poor.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Laura Luzzi

    Excellent

  25. 4 out of 5

    Daniel W. Polk

    Based on my 8 years of meditation practice, this book spoke profound wisdom and truth in a very direct manner.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Peter Galamaga

    Hard to describe - Short reflections by a priest about his meditation experience. For me - very thought provoking but probably not for everyone.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Thibaut Ottomer

    Great inspirational book when you want to start meditating. Short chapters full of accessible wisdom.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Hale

    Profound.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Justin Banger

    This a book about nothing and everything. I’ve been drawn to mediation but struggled to make it a regular practice. This book speaks right to that tension.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    Audible Audiobook

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