Monday, April 11, 2011

Right Speech, No Speech

More often than not,
right speech is about no speech.

Playing confident to a girlfriend
and keeping one's mouth shut.
Hearing a co-worker's complaints
and keeping one's mouth shut.
Listening to a teenager's heart stories
and keeping one's mouth shut.
Seeing someone's shadow looming large
and keeping one's mouth shut.
Noticing gratuitous judgments in the mind
and keeping one's mouth shut.

Each time, noticing the temptation
to speak one too many word.
With the wisdom of knowing the consequences
that could lie ahead, if the tongue slipped.
Guarding one self, guarding others
in silence, enjoying the fruit of skillful restraint.

When's the last time you spoke too hastily? Can you remember what happened next? What did you learn?


  1. One too many times I have spoken without paying attention to what the other person is telling me. Or sometimes I have spoken to be heard and recognized in a group, even if I have nothing constructive to offer. After I think about those situations, I realized it is my ego trying to get attention. Sometimes it is too late, sometimes I caught myself before I open my mouth. I am trying to be more mindful about it.

  2. Thank you again for a great post.

    I find there are moments when I'm not in a mindful state that I am easily pressured into saying what the other(s) expect, which may not always reflect what I feel is right speech.

    Other times I will consciously think "is this right speech? Do I really feel this way and should I say something about it?". I end up going ahead and saying it. Does this happen with you?

    Lastly, there are times of mindfulness when I follow right speech and don't allow things to slip, and I feel more confident with what I say.

    What I realized from reading this is how right effort, right speech, and right thought are so strongly linked. They all complement each other. With right though and right effort, right speech comes naturally.

  3. Jorge, yes, I have noticed also, the irrelevant 'I' is the culprit . . .

  4. Robin, the greatest incentive for me to cultivate right speech, is the contemplation of the consequences from those times when I overindulged the tongue.

  5. Thank you to Marguerite, Jorge and Robin for this. Keeping my mouth shut is a major practice area for me right now (and for all of eternity?), and I am seeing all of the above tendencies: giving voice to my ego, saying what is expected, and lately, saying something automatic when more presence and generosity would serve both parties well.

    Today I will heed Marguerite's good advice and reflect on the consequences of my unwise speech... sure there are mines of gold there waiting to be unearthed!

    With great metta,


  6. Thank you Kristen! Please do let us know how your reflection unfolds and whether it will help with holding back the tongue . . .

  7. I opened my mouth in a meeting two day's ago when I knew I should have kept it shut. Whenever I bow to the God Ego I find myself embarrassed by my actions.


  8. Yes, Mandy, I have had many such moments, and each time, the teaching has sunk deeper.

  9. Finding your blog and specifically this post is a much needed blessing. Thank you!