Our words can encourage or destroy
While Right Speech is part of the Noble Eightfold Path, I am always reminded that the Eightfold Path is meant to be used collectively. This means that our speech is not truly beneficial to ourselves or others unless we observe all eight components.
1. Right View
2. Right Intention
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration.
And as easily as our minds can be feeble and weak, jumping from thought to thought throughout the day, our words can leap from our lips just as effortlessly. Often speaking out in anger or judgement without taking even one moment to consider having Right View on the matter.
The other day I made a visit to the eye Doctor, trying to get a good prescription for new glasses. The older I get, the worse my vision becomes, and getting the prescription dialed in correctly seems to have become more of a challenge. My original eye Doctor was on vacation so I got to see his partner that day. He was a warm and friendly man, who really took some time to ask me a lot of questions so that he could help me see. Toward the end of the appointment, he sat back and looked at me and asked “How young are you David?”.
I was taken totally off-guard by this, and after pausing to take it in, I responded that I am 56, turning 57 next month. I then thanked him for asking my age in this way. But his words resonated with me for long after. How mindful, I thought to myself, that he would choose his words in such a compassionate way. Just by changing the question of how old are you, to how young are you, was enough to brighten my day and lift my spirit. The simplicity of this subtle act of loving-kindness truly demonstrated to me how very powerful our words can be. And how very often most of us do not consider the gravity that our words hold prior to releasing them on others.
My Mother would always teach me that “if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all”. And I see that still today this is wholesome advice. Not only should we mind our words, but also to mind our minds. Considering the intention we have, and understanding that our view may be tainted by ego or bias. And with even a moment of pause before we speak, all of us may be able to develop speech that lifts and encourages. Words that cause others to smile, that we may smile back at them in loving-friendliness. The power of our words are not to be taken lightly. And perhaps we can learn to begin each conversation with a smile, goodwill and the Noble intention of compassion and acceptance.
Have a beautiful day today, and by the way… you look marvelous!