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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Sila: The Ethical Training of The Noble Eightfold Path

After Right Understanding and Right Thinking, the two aspects of Wisdom (prajna), we come to the heart of the Noble Eightfold Path, sila. The Buddha taught Five Precepts which we will discuss at a slightly later time, but as part of his Eightfold Path, he included three practices specifically. This week I would like to talk a bit about the first of these three limbs of his Yoga Tree: Right Speech.

Right Speech is traditionally said to involve not lying, slandering, gossiping, or indulging in any forms of verbal abuse. It also includes, prophalatically, the healing practice of Noble Silence.

While the application Right Speech as it relates to others should be obvious, it often isn't. For instance, when does talking about someone else become gossip? Only when it is negative? Or is merely talking about someone who is not actually present a form of gossip? Whatever you personally think about this question, a truly edifying practice is to commit not to speak of anyone who is not present for a day, or a week, or as a real challenge, a month!

Don't we all withold some truths? Maybe we even lie in ways we call "white lies." Perhaps society couldn't even function without such lies? And if we rigidly hold to telling the truth, we might cause more harm than if we spoke a lie. An example often sited is to imagine you are living in Nazi Germany and you are aware of a Jewish family who is hiding in your neighbor's attic. One morning, the Gestapo comes knocking on your door asking if you know of any Jews living in the area. Do you tell them "yes" or do you say "no?"

Additionally, Right Speech is also a matter of attending to the voices in your own head. At times the inner chatter can sound as boisterous as a nightclub, and as mean as the devil! How often are the words running in your head critical and cutting -- putting others and yourself down -- harping on every slip-up or perceived "fault?" On the other hand, perhaps the voices are preening over your good fortune or skills. It is still idle chatter, and the practice of inner silence is one description of the meditative state.

In sangha, whenever we discuss Right Speech, many say it is the most difficult to practice. I would really appreciate any of your insights, questions and shared experiences regarding how you approach the practice of Right Speech.

metta,
frank jude

.: posted by Poep Sa Frank Jude 10:11 AM


Sila: The Ethical Training of The Noble Eightfold Path

After Right Understanding and Right Thinking, the two aspects of Wisdom (prajna), we come to the heart of the Noble Eightfold Path, sila. The Buddha taught Five Precepts which we will discuss at a slightly later time, but as part of his Eightfold Path, he included three practices specifically. This week I would like to talk a bit about the first of these three limbs of his Yoga Tree: Right Speech.

Right Speech is traditionally said to involve not lying, slandering, gossiping, or indulging in any forms of verbal abuse. It also includes, prophalatically, the healing practice of Noble Silence.

While the application Right Speech as it relates to others should be obvious, it often isn't. For instance, when does talking about someone else become gossip? Only when it is negative? Or is merely talking about someone who is not actually present a form of gossip? Whatever you personally think about this question, a truly edifying practice is to commit not to speak of anyone who is not present for a day, or a week, or as a real challenge, a month!

Don't we all withold some truths? Maybe we even lie in ways we call "white lies." Perhaps society couldn't even function without such lies? And if we rigidly hold to telling the truth, we might cause more harm than if we spoke a lie. An example often sited is to imagine you are living in Nazi Germany and you are aware of a Jewish family who is hiding in your neighbor's attic. One morning, the Gestapo comes knocking on your door asking if you know of any Jews living in the area. Do you tell them "yes" or do you say "no?"

Additionally, Right Speech is also a matter of attending to the voices in your own head. At times the inner chatter can sound as boisterous as a nightclub, and as mean as the devil! How often are the words running in your head critical and cutting -- putting others and yourself down -- harping on every slip-up or perceived "fault?" On the other hand, perhaps the voices are preening over your good fortune or skills. It is still idle chatter, and the practice of inner silence is one description of the meditative state.

In sangha, whenever we discuss Right Speech, many say it is the most difficult to practice. I would really appreciate any of your insights, questions and shared experiences regarding how you approach the practice of Right Speech.

metta,
frank jude

.: posted by Poep Sa Frank Jude 10:11 AM


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