Right speech

Right speech

Wise or Right Speech (sammá-vácá) as a part of Virtue (sila) in the Eightfold Path: abstaining from lying, malicious or divisive speech, abusive or harsh speech, and idle chatter.

(A householder) “Abandoning false speech, he abstains from false speech; he speaks truth, adheres to truth, is trustworthy and reliable, one who is no deceiver of the world. Abandoning malicious speech, he abstains from malicious speech; he does not repeat elsewhere what he has heard here in order to divide those people from these, nor does he repeat to these people what he has heard elsewhere in order to divide these people from those; thus he is one who reunites those who are divided, a promoter of friendships, who enjoys concord, rejoices in concord, delights in concord, a speaker of words that promote concord. Abandoning harsh speech, he abstains from harsh speech; he speaks such words as are gentle, pleasing to the ear, and loveable, as go to the heart, are courteous, desired by many and agreeable to many. Abandoning gossip, he abstains from gossip; he speaks at the right time, speaks what is fact, speaks on what is good, speaks on the Dhamma and the Discipline; at the right time he speaks such words as are worth recording, reasonable, moderate, and beneficial.” The Shorter Discourse on the Simile of the Elephant’s Footprint – Majjhima Nikaya 27

Right Speech is a very important part of the Eightfold Path in our tradition. When we are in the go-around, each person present is asked to state their name and then to comment on their practice and/or something of their own experience and all the while to tell the truth using words that are beneficial and appropriate for our time together. Such speech should not be abusive or harsh.

Those not speaking are to practice Right Listening and to wait their turn to speak, understanding that hearing a problem does not mean it has to be solved. Any questions brought up by a given person should be considered open questions for that person to investigate, not for the sangha present to answer. There is to be no cross talk. When the leader has closed the practice with metta (a lovingkindness practice) and a dedication of merit, there is time for mindful cross talk and discursive discussion.

While there is no specific time limit, each person should consider how long all persons will have to speak depending on the size of the group that evening.