Whole Speech

Samma Vaca

Let’s kick-off with a quote from “Body Speech and Mind” by Namgyal Rinpoche on speech:

“The precept which draws attention to musavada, to false speech, does not only vow, ‘I wont tell lies.’ It is meant to promote a considertaion of all speech. ‘I wont waste my time in back-biting or in silly chatter.’ You must put down the good, not to mention the bad, chatter. You would be surprised if you had any idea of how much your unwholesome speech blows you away from awakening!”

Cecile Kewait shared the teaching that developing Whole Speech looks at avoiding four unwholesome qualities and developing their opposite four wholesome qualities. They are pretty obvious:

Avoid slandering others and promote concord

For this aspect, remember that it is the motive that matters. If someone has misinterpreted your motive, correct them of your intention, that changes it. If you’re joking it is not slander.

Avoid harsh/ rude speech and promote affection

Harsh speech is similar to criticism.

Avoid false speech and promote the truth

Cecile quoted that if you want to make sure you’re speaking wholesome: speak Dharma, speak truth, or practice noble silence.

In speaking the truth, you can consider that speech is one way for humans to align what they are feeling inside with what they express on the outside. Hand in hand with wise discrimination, it is important to know when it is necessary to express your feelings, to whom, and how.

Doug Duncan Sensei out of Clear Sky Center still quotes his teacher Namgyal Rinpoche today for encouraging his students to have “ruthless self honesty”. In order to even conceive of being authentic with others, we need to learn to be honest with ourselves, shine light on the darkest and most ignored shadow-laden areas of our unconscious.

Avoid idle chatter and promote Dharma

S.N. Goenka in his Vipassana retreat releases the silence near the end of the retreat, joking that retreatants can now participate in “noble chatter” as opposed to idle chatter or noble silence. Chatter for an untrained mind often promotes mindlessness for all involved. The more aware you become, the more noble your chatter can become. This doing necessarily mean that what you are talking about is specifically Buddhism, but that while you speak you are in a clear and loving state.

All the above qualities of speech can also apply to thoughts in your own mind, the voices in your head. How often is your mind carried away in idle chatter, lies, slandering others, or criticism?

Namgyal Rinpoche encourages practitioners to apply their reflections to all of the speech they engage in:

“The precept which draws attention to musavada, to false speech, does not only vow, ‘I wont tell lies.’ It is meant to promote a considertaion of all speech. ‘I wont waste my time in back-biting or in silly chatter.’ You must put down the good, not to mention the bad, chatter. You would be surprised if you had any idea of how much your unwholesome speech blows you away from awakening!”

And what of when you have eliminate all unwholesomeness in speech. What is Whole Speech? Namgyal says:

“Taking the meaning of samma as being totality, lokuttara speech would indicate the ability to totally speak and hear the universe.”

Access to Insight has a comprehensive page already on Whole Speech for more detailed information. To continue on your 8 Foot Path journey, you may also continue to the Whole Actions page.

 

 

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