Given my role as a Zen priest, if I do harm to another person these days that harm generally springs from either something I’ve said, or from how I’ve said it. Or, the harm might also arise from something I’ve left unsaid because I didn’t have the courage, compassion, or wisdom to say it when it could have made a beneficial difference. For this reason, Right Speech is a central focuses in my practice. I try to be as absolutely harmless with my speech as I’m able.
Make your words a healing gift, a gift of comfort.
There is no question that the world more than ever needs our truthfulness. Yet, now more than ever the world also needs us to practice kind speech, gentle speech, a speech that promotes dignity, decency, love, understanding and harmony between people.
According the Buddha, well-spoken words have more than truthfulness about them. Well spoken speech has five factors. Those five factors are, “It is spoken at the right time. The words are spoken in truth. They are spoken affectionately. The speech is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will.”
We resolve to think, speak, and act in accord with harmlessness wisdom, and compassion.
As we know, our words can bind us together. They can also tear us apart. Through language we give comfort. With our words we delight, teach and ennoble one another. Language affords us the poetry of love and the magic of healing. Yet, with language and speech we deceive, belittle, spread poisonous gossip, cause irreparable suffering, sometimes betray all we hold dear.
Because language and speech are such powerful tools for good and or ill many wise Teachers have encouraged us to use speech reflectively, creatively and lovingly to benefit each other rather than to impulsively and habitually cause harm, conflict, or division. Furthermore, the way we use speech has historically been a central motif in the ethics of nonviolence or ahimsa.
Ahimsa means not to injure any creature by thought, word or deed. ~~Gandhi
For the Buddha, the use of wise and loving speech was a means to give great comfort and benefit to others:
By abstaining from [unwise and harmful speech], the noble disciple gives to an immeasurable number of beings freedom from fear, enmity, and affliction, and in turn likewise enjoys immeasurable freedom from fear, enmity, and affliction. ~~Gautama Buddha
Moreover, the practice of using speech harmlessly and beneficially asks us to do more than simply refrain from certain kinds of speech. Positively, the practice of Right Speech asks us to use language that promotes safety, friendship and social harmony. To practice Right Speech is to intentionally and mindfully explore ways to,
speak such words as are gentle, pleasing to the ear, and lovable, that go to the heart, are courteous, desired by many, and agreeable to many.~~Gautama Buddha
Here is a link to Chapter Four of The Noble Eightfold Path by the highly respected scholar monk Bhikkhu Bodhi. The chapter is on Right Action, Right Speech, and Right Livelihood—the core ethical teachings of the Path. vipassana.com/resources/8fp4.php
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