Florida International University
The Right Speech is one of the steps of the Noble Eightfold Path taught by the Buddha as the path that leads to the liberation of all suffering and dissatisfaction. It is also known as the "Right way of speaking, belongs to the part of the Buddhist ethics. Right speech is the third element of the eightfold path. To abstain from lying is also one of the five lay precepts. There is no doubt that the way human communicate is a crucial aspect of social animal lives. People can cultivate a way of speaking that seeks understanding instead of confrontation, harmony instead of division, and well-being instead of discomfort.
To practice virtue in our words, according to Buddha, is to avoid that its content is false, defamatory or unfruitful, that its intention is malevolent and that the forms are inappropriate. The first is the most obvious and refers to lying knowingly, urging us to cultivate honesty. Lying and cheating are inadvisable, as they can lead to conclusions and decisions based on false information. The last category, on the other hand, is the one that provokes more surprises.
My feeling when reading this paragraph is that the Buddha does not condemn the fact of speaking slightly if they say things that meet the other categories listed at the beginning of the paper. The problem is when trivial conversations become what the Buddha called malicious or divisive words. And there comes the element of investigating what motivates us: showing something negative with the intention of improving it, to reduce the consequences of that, or the defects of others to feel good in comparison. Apart from the content of what we are saying, we need to understand the purpose of saying it. The right speech is of vital importance in our daily life as it leads our life to the right path. If we understand the practice of dharma as the cultivation of certain personal values, this inquiry is of crucial importance.
One could take a non-skilled pleasure in speaking maliciously as it can be perceived as winning the sympathy of a group by sharing negative information from another person or group. "Instead of participating in divisive speech, Buddhism recommends doing the opposite: talking about the positive points of the people. Thus, the Upasaka-Sila Sutra says that the bodhisattva 'makes known the good deeds of others and conceals his errors and asks us to never divulge what others are ashamed of. Sometimes we have to inform people of the mistakes of others, but it should be done in a moderate way and only to the extent necessary for the protection of others. This is a very interesting and valued perspective.
The criteria for right speech is that, if something is not true, neither beneficial nor pleasant, it refrains from speaking; if it is true but it is not beneficial or pleasant, it refrains from saying it; if it is true and beneficial but it is not pleasant, it is needed to find the right time to talk. If something is neither true nor beneficial, even pleasant, it refrains from saying it; if it is true and pleasant but it is not beneficial, it refrains from speaking; if it is true, beneficial and pleasant, it is required to look for the right moment to say it.
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