There is in MN44 a rather remarkable question:
But ma’am, which cease first for a mendicant who is entering the cessation of perception and feeling: physical, verbal, or mental processes?
NOTE: The cessation of perception and feeling is the eighth liberation. There are no more (DN33).
And the answer is:
Verbal processes cease first, then physical, then mental
Putting suttas and liberation aside, I am curious about being the experience of being speechless. I’m curious because I think many of us here might in fact have experienced speechlessness in some form or the other.
There is the one kind of speechlessness standing naked in our minds in front of a crowd, struck dumb in stage fright. I think perhaps too many of us have felt this at some time or another. Yet there are other forms of speechlessness as well. I’ll share one.
I’m a bit obsessive and climbing is immersive emotionally, mentally and physically. On a difficult climb, one needs everything working together in perfect fusion and harmony, working with maximal effort to reach the top. This is candy for the obsessive. It is, well, addictively immersive. It is so immersive that it is common to see a climber blanked out and spent from effort, emulating a wet noodle slapped on the floor.
I had been working on a very difficult climb for weeks and it was elusive and always just a bit too hard. But one day it did not elude. One day everything clicked together, and I disappeared and the climb was done. Just after, my friends asked me, “Cool! How was that?” And I turned to them and smiled enthusiastically and said. Nothing.
I was speechless. I was perfectly aware and present, perceiving senses and feelings, but the names of things had evaporated. I could make sounds like “ooohhhh. aahhhh. errmmm. yeahh.” But I could not articulate let alone summon the name of anything. So I waved my hands and laughed and there were hugs and high fives and lots of mute shrugs. Later, after a minute or so I was able to think profoundly, “Doohickey frubjub globbledy” or somesuch. In other words, I knew the shape of what I wanted to say but not the names, not the words. Shortly thereafter I did say. “It was great. You should try it.”
So I am curious about how others have experienced this oddest of sensations. How have you experienced being speechless?
NOTE: Monastics please observe precepts here, but please do post of non-meditative speechlessness so that we can all understand that common experience and render it less mystical. I have other experiences to share and I’m sure we all do. The purpose of this post is to align experiences to vocabulary so that we start from common experience and agreement rather than dispute. Speechlessness is simply the cessation of verbal processes. The experience of speechlessness is not an attainment in everyday life. In fact, it makes us look foolish.
Lastly, if nobody posts, this post will have rendered us all speechless. Wait! What?