Saturday, May 28, 2011

Write Speech

Anyone who is familiar with basic Buddhist concepts such as the Noble Eightfold Path (see below) knows that Right Speech is the first component of Moral Discipline. It is defined as follows:

"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)." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, 1999

And for anyone who knows me personally, they know that, except for the lying and slander, I would be the first to admit that I have failed miserably in Right Speech. On any given day, my words are often idle, irreverent, and yes, graphic. Some people might call it 'colorful'. I wouldn't completely say that I have a 'potty mouth', but the F-bomb is certainly a well-worn word in my vocabulary. 

I do want to change, I really do, but I have found that the shocked laughter that outrageous quips can generate is addictive! Saying shocking things is fun, with the added benefit that you also sound fun, maybe even cool and confident. 

However, the conflict I sometimes feel indicates that there might be something wrong with my verbal behavior. I am under the impression that I have enough maturity and experience to know that one doesn't need to cuss to be funny or creative. Plus, I knew things were getting bad when the people I work with appropriated a mason jar to 'pay' for 'inappropriate comments' (not just for me, but for all of us)! Loose change for loose mouths, I guess.

But since I do genuinely want to change, I have a strategy. Several times I have not only focused on being mindful of my speech, but pretended that I had to write down everything I said. The result? Well, I certainly spoke a lot less!! But more importantly, I only spoke when it was useful, helpful, and necessary.

Yeah, it seems too rigid, especially for a big talker like me. But I think it will be good practice for generating mindful speech, until I become more aware. As a wise man once said, if you can't control your mouth, how can you control your mind?

So for now, it's 'Write Speech' for Right Speech, at least while I'm at work.

What do you think? Would this work for you? Comments are welcome.

May all beings be happy!

Noble Eightfold Path
1. Right view
2. Right intention
Moral Discipline
3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration


  1. This post cracked me up because I've felt the same way about this, and many other "shortcomings". I often say I'm a crappy Buddhist. I eat meat, I drink wine, I'm chatty to fill the silence....and there are many, many more ways I'm a sucky Buddhist! BUT, I also feel like maybe that's not such a bad thing. We've all met "spritual" types who like to say things like: "You just not there yet." As if they are. Anyone who feels they "have arrived", are missing the point entirely. Don't be in such a hurry, right? Relax and observe yourself, "shortcomings" and all. That's why I like your blog. You're honest and a good observer of self. One of these days, I'd like to get your take on "no self" or "no ego". That is a tough one for me, but I've made some headway. Maybe I'll write about it!

  2. Wow Eline, thank you so much for your comment! I am only seeing it now due to the fact of major life events, such as my wedding in August, and thesis defense in October. It has been a busy year!

    But your comment made my day. It's good to know that I am not alone in being a 'sucky' Buddhist. More than once I have felt uncomfortable for not knowing any scripture, prayer, or puja, but whatever, if it is useful to me, I will learn it, if not, well, it's better to focus on mindfulness and loving-kindness!

    You're also right about relaxing and not being in a hurry. Very few are 'there' yet, and it is not a race. Day by day, one step at a time.

    May you be happy! With Metta, Renata


Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment! If you enjoyed this post, please share with others. -With Metta, Renata

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