2013 ‘Silence and dialogue’, in Gesher 2013 vol. 4, no.4 pp. 52-64.

‘Silence and dialogue’, in Gesher 2013 vol. 4, no.4 52-64.


The act of being silent is not a proof of ignorance or of having nothing to say, of being ‘dumb’. On the contrary, as this article wishes to explain, it is an essential aspect of dialogue.

“Dialogue involves both having something substantial to say and being willing to listen in depth. The participants want to hear the authentic tradition which has been really experienced and is truly lived.”[1]

 The command to listen

The shema of the Jewish faith reads as follows:

“Listen, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.

You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart,

and with your whole soul, and with your whole strength.” (Deut 6.4-5)

The doctrinal element, “the Lord our God is one Lord”, is followed by its ethical consequence, “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart …” but the primary command is ‘Listen’ (shema in Hebrew) which in turn calls for silence.

The shema is given by Moses at that liminal moment when the People of God are about to enter into the Land promised to Abraham and his descendants. However, Moses anticipates that the people will not listen and will in fact be exiled from the Land in consequence.

Likewise, in the Christian tradition, at that liminal moment when Jesus begins to speak about his death the Voice comes from heaven saying “Listen to him” (Mt 9.8). But Christians have too often not listened to the teaching of their Moses.

etc. ….

[1] Promoting Interfaith Relations. Guidelines for the parishes and agencies of the Archdiocese of Melbourne to assist in the promotion of interfaith relations in general and especially in the preparation of interfaith gatherings.. Revised edition. The first edition of these Guidelines was officially launched by Archbishop

Denis J. Hart, 21 August, 2007. This revised edition was approved by the Archbishop on

12 October, 2009.

About interfaithashram

Rev. Dr. John Dupuche is a Roman Catholic Priest, a senior lecturer at MCD University of Divinity, and Honorary Fellow at Australian Catholic University. His doctorate is in Sanskrit in the field of Kashmir Shaivism. He is chair of the Catholic Interfaith Committee of the Archdiocese of Melbourne and has established a pastoral relationship with the parishes of Lilydale and Healesville. He is the author of 'Abhinavagupta: the Kula Ritual as elaborated in chapter 29 of the Tantraloka', 2003; 'Jesus, the Mantra of God', 2005; 'Vers un tantra chrétien' in 2009; translated as 'Towards a Christian Tantra' in 2009. He has written many articles. He travels to India each year. He lives in an interfaith ashram.
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