November 27 Loving, Truthful Speech


This Monday night Camilla will facilitate.  She shares:


In my current Circle Yoga teacher training we have been studying yoga philosophy.  One of our readings has been Patanjali's yoga sutras - ancient Indian texts that are considered threads of wisdom that offer guidelines for living a meaningful and purposeful life.  One of the yoga sutras that really resonates with me is Satya, or truthfulness, not lying.  The practice of Satya (which is one of the yamas or restraints of yoga) - is to carefully choose our words so they do the least harm and most good.  I find this very much like "right speech" in Buddhism, where if we consider our words and actions without judgement, we can lead a more honest and truthful life.  This sounds simple enough - but I find it a challenge and struggle with this almost every day.


For me the biggest challenge with this practice is when I hear others use harmful or untruthful speech, it becomes very difficult for me to understand and forgive them, or to have compassion for them.  And then I, in turn, can easily criticize them and practice "wrong" speech and cause more suffering.  This is not my intention.  This is not practicing mindfulness.  But what do I do when someone tells me I don't know anything, or makes an intimidating comment, or is just having a bad day and takes it out on me?  Or if I hear something in the media that is untruthful - do I just blame the media and others with criticism and reproach?  This does not feel good and is surely causing more pain and suffering for me and others.  I have found guidance in Thich Nhat Hanh's book, "The Art of Communicating" which reminds me that "right speech" also referred to as "loving speech" can bring more joy and compassion to all.  Below are some excerpts from his book:


"We call loving speech "Right Speech" because we know that suffering is brought about by wrong speech.  Our speech can cause a lot of suffering with unkind, untruthful, or violent words.  Wrong speech is the kind of speech that lacks openness and does not have understanding, compassion, and reconciliation at its base."


"When we write a note or a letter, when we speak on the telephone, what we write or say should be Right Speech that conveys our insight, our understanding, and our compassion.  When we practice Right Speech, we feel wonderful in our bodies and our minds.  And the one who listens to us also feels wonderful.  It's possible for us to use Right Speech, the speech of compassion, tolerance, and forgiveness, several times a day.  It doesn't cost anything and it's very healing."


"Loving, truthful speech can bring a lot of joy and peace to people.  But producing loving speech takes practice because we aren't used to it.  When we hear so much speech that causes craving, insecurity, and anger, we get accustomed to speaking that way.  Truthful, loving speech is something we need to train ourselves in."


There are four elements of Right Speech and six mantras of Loving Speech that Thay talks about in his book that we might recite together on Monday evening.


I look forward to seeing you Monday night and sharing your thoughts on this or other topics that might be dear to your hearts.


With love, Camille


(please enjoy the poem below)


Words can travel thousands of miles.

May my words create mutual understanding and love,

May they be as beautiful as gems,

as lovely as flowers.


From "The Path of Emancipation" by Thich Nhat Hanh