As I prepare to formally take my precepts this weekend, I have spent quite a bit of time examining each of these individually. And today I wanted to address how I see the deeper meaning of the Fourth Precept.
The fourth precept is to avoid false speech. And I see this as having the same intention as the third part of the Noble Eightfold Path, which is Right Speech (Samma Vaca).
Some things to examine for right speech are:
- “Do I speak at the right time, or not?
- “Do I speak of facts, or not?
- “Do I speak gently or harshly?
- “Do I speak profitable words or not?
- “Do I speak with a kindly heart, or inwardly malicious?
In the Subhasita Sutta, the Buddha taught us:
- One should speak only that word by which one would not torment oneself nor harm others. That word is indeed well spoken.
- One should speak only pleasant words, words which are acceptable (to others). What one speaks without bringing evils to others is pleasant.
- Truth is indeed the undying word; this is an ancient verity. Upon truth, the good say, the goal and the teaching are founded.
- The sure word the Awakened One speaks for the attainment of nibbana, for making an end of suffering, is truly the best of words.
So you see, the fourth precept has a deeper meaning and very powerful teaching within it. It is far more global in scope than simply “Do not lie, but only speak the truth”.
As I prepare to the precepts, I am making a strong determination to be fully aware of the impact and importance of my words. That I always speak in a way that encourages loving kindness, community and compassion. This is my true intention.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.