4 Guidelines for Right Speech

Right Speech can sometimes be the most difficult part of the Eightfold Path.

In its simplest form, Right Speech can be defined as not using language to harm ourselves or others. Easier said than done. How often do we say things that hurt people’s feelings? How often do we gossip or tell little white lies?

Too often.

And this doesn’t just apply to Buddhist practice. All religious traditions seem to emphasize honest and positive communication. So, this is a case where talking about a fundamental part of Buddhist practice can be of benefit to everyone.

So, here are some guidelines to keep us on track.

1) Tell the truth.

Don’t tell a falsehood. Just as importantly, don’t tell lies by omission. There is far too much dishonesty in the world. If we were all just honest with one another the world would be a very different place. Dishonesty is an attack on trust between individuals.

2) Be compassionate in your speech.

Like we were told as kids. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. We should use our voices to bring kindness into the world.

3) Encourage others.

Sometimes just an encouraging word can bring endless joy to someone. If you see the opportunity to encourage someone, do it.

4) Be helpful.

Our words can help others in many ways. We can explain things they want to learn or just spread positivity and kindness.

Too often we use communication to tear each other down. Verbal attacks are much too common. We can just use our words for kindness.

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About Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel Scharpenburg lives in Kansas City with two kids and two cats. He runs the Monday Night Zen Group at the Rime Buddhist Center. Daniel has a BA in English from KU and he works for the federal government. Once a Novice Monk in the Rinzai Tradition, he dropped out of monk school to become a regular person. He has taken his inspiration mainly from Zen renegades and madmen like Ikkyu and Han Shan. Daniel has taken Bodhisattva Vows in both the Nagarjuna and Asanga lineages. He is a frequent guest teacher on Daily Dharma Gathering.

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