Right speech, explained in negative terms, means avoiding four types of harmful speech: lies (words spoken with the intent of misrepresenting the truth); divisive speech (spoken with the intent of creating rifts between people); harsh speech (spoken with the intent of hurting another person’s feelings); and idle chatter (spoken with no purposeful intent at all).” (by Thanissaro Bhikkhu)
Having studied and attempted to follow the Noble Eightfold Path for many years, I have now also taken the Five Precepts. For whatever reason, more and more I am becoming aware of the Third principal in the Eightfold path (Right Speech), and it’s correlation to the Fourth precept (I undertake the training rule to abstain from false speech).
Our tongue is a very powerful muscle, that can exercise all day long without exhaustion. But how aware are any of us what tremendous power we have in the use of this muscle?
Is it being used to cultivate or destroy? Do we speak harshly of others with words of criticism or judgement. Do we backbite or gossip merely for the exercise of our tongues?
Where is the mindfulness or Right Speech in this action?
We hold a great opportunity before us in how we choose to use our words and create an environment of loving kindness (Metta) and equanimity (Upekkha). Yet I believe it is with a lack of mindfulness and practice that we easily let slip words which hold less than Noble thoughts or intentions.
Consider for a moment, times in your life when you have shown love and encouragement to someone who is suffering. Lifted and lightened by your compassionate nature and selfless focus.
I am sure you know that feeling of reward that another person was the benefactor of your kindness.
This is what each of us may use as a lesson to guide us today in practicing Right Speech and the Fourth precept.
Just as your words encourage and support me, they also teach me. And my hope is that my words here may be of some benefit and encouragement to you as well.
I believe that our words are dhamma, and we each have the opportunity to teach loving kindness every time we speak.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.
In positive terms, right speech means speaking in ways that are trustworthy, harmonious, comforting, and worth taking to heart. When you make a practice of these positive forms of right speech, your words become a gift to others.