Right Speech: Four important choices that turn your words into tiny emissaries of goodness and power.November 6, 2017 | 4 Comments
Audio only version is here.
Hello dear meditators. It is great to see you!
In meditation, we bring mindfulness to three aspects of our existence. First, we are mindful of our bodies in the way we establish the meditation posture. Second, we become mindful of breath by allowing our attention to ride the breath. Finally, we are mindful of our minds by observing the rise and fall of thought, feeling, and sensation.
All of this translates into our post-meditation experience, aka the rest of our lives. Mindfulness of body comes into play in the way we establish our presence in any situation. We can use that presence to engender both gentleness and sharpness. Mindfulness of mind allows us access to our insights, attitudes, judgments, and ideas. We can use that awareness to create wisdom and compassion.
Just between body and mind is breath. In meditation practice, breath is your basic inhale and exhale. In life, breath takes form as speech. Just as our physical presence and internal awareness can telegraph gentleness, sharpness, wisdom, and compassion (or their opposites), so can our speech. It may sound obvious to say that speech is our primary connection to others, but we often pay little attention to how we actually use this capacity.
In Buddhist thought, Right Speech is thought to be one of the eight steps along the path to enlightenment, immediately following Right View (1) and Right Intention (2). Which is awesome. It is very cool to think that the way we talk could actually lead to full enlightenment. Yay enlightenment. But it can also lead to more relatively profound qualities such as clarity, humor, sweetness, efficiency, love, understanding…the list is endless. As humans, speech is one of our gifts to planet earth and to each other.
How often do we consider the power and possibility of speech? Before today’s practice, I invite you to do so, beginning with the Buddha’s four most important qualifiers for Wrong Speech. Don’t do these things (or do their opposites) and you will enter the vast and beautiful world of language as a path.
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