Sunday, September 9, 2007

"Don't talk if you can't improve on silence"- How to be mindful in speech, Buddhist perspective for a productive life.

Have you ever got in trouble for not thinking before you speak? How many times have you told yourself, "maybe I shouldn't have spoken like that". As for me, I have done this countless times. Well, can you do anything about it? Is it really possible to be mindful before you speak.? Are there any guidelines for skillful speech? These questions have been troubling me for a long time. I, therefore decided to explore Buddhist principles of mindful speech. In The Noble Eightfold Pathway, Buddha explains what mindful speech (Right Speech) means:

Abstain from:

1. Lying
"Abandoning false speech, he abstains from false speech. He speaks the truth, holds to the truth, is firm, reliable, no deceiver of the world....

2. Divisive speech
"Abandoning divisive speech he abstains from divisive speech. What he has heard here he does not tell there to break those people apart from these people here. What he has heard there he does not tell here to break these people apart from those people there. Thus reconciling those who have broken apart or cementing those who are united, he loves concord, delights in concord, enjoys concord, speaks things that create concord....

3. Abusive speech
"Abandoning abusive speech, he abstains from abusive speech. He speaks words that are soothing to the ear, that are affectionate, that go to the heart, that are polite, appealing and pleasing to people at large....

4. Idle Chatter
"Abandoning idle chatter, he abstains from idle chatter. He speaks in season, speaks what is factual, what is in accordance with the goal, the Dhamma (the teachings of the Buddha), and the Vinaya (code of conduct for the monks). He speaks words worth treasuring, seasonable, reasonable, circumscribed, connected with the goal...."

Is it possible to practice this in our daily lives? I think it is possible, but it is not so easy to be mindful every time before one speaks. In one of his disclosures Buddha says how to train yourself to be a skillful speaker (Prince Abhaya Rajakumara sutta). I have summarised the essentials of this sutta in the algorithm below.

Listen to:

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