Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Right Speech

A used tea bag hangs from a wiring over a Baghdad street.

I try to live my life using the Buddhist precepts of the Noble Eightfold Path, also known in Japanese as Hasshōdō. They are...

1. Right view
2. Right intention

Ethical conduct
3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood

Mental discipline
6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration

The word "Right" is a translation of the Pali word sammã and carries the same sense as "perfect" or "ideal".

Of these I seem to struggle with Right speech the most. Sitting around the table last night in the bureau the gossip was flying fast and furious as it does. I knew that the "Right" thing to do was to keep my mouth closed and smile, but I found myself participating in the melee along with the rest, all the while knowing it was wrong.

I've spent the morning examining my actions last night and came to the conclusion that I was dragged into the gossip frenzy by my ego. I wanted to be seen as knowing some valuable nugget of knowledge and thusly adding to my self-worth or self-esteem.

This is the ugly side of Zen Buddhism; the unpleasant and vile things that you uncover about yourself as you continue along the path. Zen is not all about dripping water and symmetric waves carved in pristine sand. It's ugly, painful, and in-your-face, but then again so is life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I keep coming back and reading this post. I have so much to learn.