Right speech

06 May

rightspeech_page.jpgThe entry on blogging earlier today brought to mind how sensible Buddhism is on blogging. Or could be. Buddhism is fascinating. It does rather cut through our western preoccupation with theorising, and also goes much deeper than the Abrahamic religions in very many ways. Sure, there are similar precepts there, but the Buddhist scriptures (which no-one regards as infallible) get to the heart of the matter.

Muslims, Jews, Christians and agnostics and atheists could well take note. See Thich Nhat Hanh on PBS (2003):

ABERNETHY: Can a person be both a Buddhist and a Christian?

NHAT HANH: Sure. There are many, many Christians who practice Buddhism and they become better and better Christians all the time.

You may read the appropriate sources, but is is nicely boiled down on The Noble Eightfold Path.

Right speech is the first principle of ethical conduct in the eightfold path. Ethical conduct is viewed as a guideline to moral discipline, which supports the other principles of the path. This aspect is not self-sufficient, however, essential, because mental purification can only be achieved through the cultivation of ethical conduct. The importance of speech in the context of Buddhist ethics is obvious: words can break or save lives, make enemies or friends, start war or create peace. Buddha explained right speech as follows: 1. to abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully, 2. to abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others, 3. to abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others, and 4. to abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth. Positively phrased, this means to tell the truth, to speak friendly, warm, and gently and to talk only when necessary.

My blog does fall short. It’s all that pesky persona’s fault, not mine. 😉

See also: Abbess Taitaku Patricia Phelan, “Right Speech.”

The poster above comes from World Spirit (UK), a not-for-profit travel service for independently minded travellers.


Buddhist scriptures not infallible. Dave, an atheist, rightly says:

Of course, other systems of belief – such as traditional Buddhism – suffer from the same flaw. Traditional Buddhism includes stuff about souls, reincarnation, and other unproven junk which fails at the hands of Mr. Occam and his famous Razor. Indeed, it seems to me that many practising Buddhists have elevated the Buddha himself to be a demigod. None of his teachings or any of the traditional scriptures ever claimed he was anything but a man. However, Buddhism’s great strength is in one of the Buddha’s primary teachings – that none of his followers should blindly accept what he said (in, I believe, the Sutta Nipata). They are free to question everything they are told. Therefore, it is possible for a Buddhist to throw out stuff which is no longer necessary to explain things, and Buddhism can be made acceptable. However, some versions are not, as they include misleading supernatural baggage.

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Posted by on May 6, 2007 in blogging, Faith and philosophy, Religion



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