Saturday, August 17, 2013

Buddha's admonitions on Right Speech

I have been going over the Precepts again as I am preparing to do a Jukai ceremony ( a buddhist initiation where the precepts are given) to Clouds in Water Zen Center's prison sangha, The Unpolished Diamond Sangha, and to our own sangha.  There are several precepts under the category of Right Speech and I have always found Buddha's admonitions on Right Speech very helpful.  They are, of course, in the tradition of Buddhist instructions that are categorized with sets of numbers.  Here are some of them:

The four ways of verbal action (SN 45.8, AN 10.176)
·      Abstaining from lying,
o   He says
§  I know
§  I don’t know
§  I haven’t seen
§  I have seen
o   He doesn’t consciously tell a lie for the sake of himself, for the sake of another or for the sake of reward.
o   He is firm, reliable, no deceiver of the world
·      from divisive speech,
o   he does not gossip to break one group from another
o   he loves concord, delights in concord, enjoys concord, speaks things that create concord
·      from abusive speech
o   He speaks words that
§  Are soothing to the ear
§  Are affectionate
§  Go to the heart
§  Are polite
§  Appealing and pleasing to people at large
·      from idle chatter
o   he speaks
§  in season
§  is factual
§  in accordance with the goal of the dharma and the vinaya
§  words worth treasuring, seasonable, reasonable, circumscribed, connected with the goal

Five keys to right speech (AN 5.198)
·      spoken at the right time
·      spoken in truth
·      spoken affectionately
·      spoken beneficially
·      spoken with a mind of good-will,


The Criteria for deciding what is worth saying (MN 58)
1.     Do not say things you know are unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial (ie. not connected with the goal), unendearing and disagreeable to others.
2.     Do not say things that are factual and true, but unbeneficial, unendearing and disagreeable to others.
3.     Do not say things that are factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing and disagreeable to others.  Have a sense of the proper time for saying them.
4.     Do not say things that are factual, true, unbeneficial, but endearing and agreeable to others. 
5.    In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, endearing and agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.  Why is that?  Because the tathagata has sympathy for living beings.

The 5 conditions for speaking (An V)
1.     Do I speak at the right time, or not?
2.     Do I speak of facts, or not?
3.     Do I speak gently or harshly?
4.     Do I speak profitable (beneficial) words or not?
5.     Do I speak with a kindly heart, or inwardly malicious?