The Sound of Silence: A Zen Parable

Hearing people tend to view Deaf people as silent and their language as silent. Silence tends to be associated with sound. But, this video of the Zen koan "The Sound of Silence" challenges this preconception by telling that signing is speaking.

As a Deaf literary artist, I created a sweet-and-short art video (2005) of the Zen koan "The Sound of Silence". The video challenges a preconception by telling that signing is speaking.


The four monks agreed to meditate silently without talking for two weeks. On the first night, they all meditated in silence. The candle flame began to flicker before it went out.

The first monk said, "Uh oh, no! Hey, the candle went out." The second monk said, "Well, aren't we supposed not to talk?" The fourth monk laughed, "Ha! I'm the only one who didn't speak." Oops! Do it again?


"People sometimes don't practice what they preach."

"A promise, commitment, rule or even silence itself is sometimes difficult to keep."

"Listening is a virtue, and distraction is a challenge."


"This short clip was most enjoyable for me; and I wanted it to continue. It reminded me of a Charlie Chaplin silent movie, not requiring audio, rather taking in the quality of the message and eliciting among viewers a range of feelings." -- Teresa Fleming, 2005.

These are some ASL lessons, tutorials, and tips that ASL students and language enthusiasts can explore and learn some ASL on their own relaxing pace.

Seeking some challenges? Try some stories, fables, and others in ASL storytelling and poetry. Study a complex system of subtle eye gazes, role-shifting, classifiers, sentence structures, and other linguistic features as well as poetics.