Right Speech, or Lack Thereof

Today I fell victim to chose to succumb to the allure of gossiping and judgmental words. What I said was unnecessary, and potentially harmful, as I discovered a moment too late that the person I was speaking about was sitting just at the next table. I was assured by my table mate that the person didn’t seem to have heard as the next table was deeping involved in their own engrossing conversation, but still, I worry that I caused pain.

Gautama Buddha developed the Eightfold Path as a way to alleviate suffering and achieve insight. Rudolf Steiner spoke similarly of this path as a way to tame our astral cravings and unconscious desires and actions. Here is how he describes the fourth principle, right speech:

[A person] must strive to give true expression to what he desires to communicate to the world, having first acquired the right view and right judgment of it; not only his words but every manifestation of his being must express his own right view — that and that alone. This is right speech.
The Gospel of St. Luke, lecture three, 17 September 1909

I certainly failed to have right judgment, in my choice to make humor out of shallow judgments and useless talk,and to have right view, in displaying such antipathy toward the person and situation. I forgot the wise words of Steiner about truth and love:

[The] lie is the direct opposite of the actual facts and those who yield themselves lovingly to the facts are incapable of lying. The lie has its roots in egoism — always and without exception. When, through love, we have found the path to wisdom, we reach wisdom through the increasing power of self-conquest, through selfless love.
–“Love and Its Meaning in the World,” 17 December 1912 (my emphasis)

Clearly, I still need to work on that “self-conquest” part.

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Filed under Anthroposophy, Deep Thoughts, life

11 responses to “Right Speech, or Lack Thereof

  1. You’re right, of course. Though the temptation for a good one liner about an easy target…

  2. I recently went to a seminar given by the man who wrote Simplicity Parenting. He spoke of the quote by guru Sai Baba: “Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence?”
    That really hit home with me because sometimes I’m drawn into the drama. This little saying helps a lot.

  3. I think karma gave you a lesson there, it made you think, analyze your own behavior.

    It seems you had problems with, at least, Right View, Intent, Speech, and Focus;-)

    http://kimgraaemunch.wordpress.com/2009/03/18/the-eightfold-path/ (also RS related)

  4. This was good for me to read right now. It’s something I’m working on as well, and I have a ways to go. 😉

  5. This is something we all work on, and all need to work on. I have heard the quote mentioned by Runninl8 many times before, from my mother. Except for the part “Does it improve on the silence.” I like that. So often we are not comfortable with silence and feel the need to fill it up.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself, at least you recognized that you had done a “wrong” thing. So many people indulge in criticism and gossip and never even realize that it is a bad thing.

    Hope your new year is blessed with health and prosperity.

    have you started ordering seeds for your new garden yet????

  6. Pingback: Buddha’s Thought of the Day :The Big Buddha

  7. Such a great post and fantastic blog. You may find my post today of relivance to it all. Dated 18 march 10.
    Thanks for the thoughts and words here..xx

  8. Jeeze. I fell victim to something similar. It was one of those situations where the words just came flying out of my mouth before I took the time to consider what I was saying. I tell you- the Universe has an amazing way of giving a person ‘a lickin.’ I told someone something, someone else told me. What I passed along was a bit scathing and innacurate information. She happened to know the person in question and the information I had told her was completely innacurate. Did I feel like a fool. All I could say to save face to her was, “I just learned a valuable lesson about second-hand information!” It took a good week for the person I had spoken to come around. I am glad she figured out that I am not an intentionally mean person!

  9. Eve

    Thank you. I needed to read this.

  10. tanyainidaho

    I sure miss meeting with you. How are things going? Looking forward to you next post.

  11. I find (I let) certain people draw out my weakness for this behavior when I am with them. It is difficult when there is a deep history.

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