Open Heart, Open Mind, Open Mouth: Engaging the Practice of Skillful Speech
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Open Heart, Open Mind, Open Mouth: Engaging the Practice of Skillful Speech

Teachers: David Lorey, Ying Chen, Diana Clark, Kim Allen

2021-11-13 Session 1

  • Alignment between the heart, mind, and the body when we are speaking
  • Class will offer examples of wise speech
  • In the Buddha's time, speech meant talking to someone. But now we have async communication, social media, etc.
  • How to remain mindful as we are speaking
    • 3 dimensions of mindfulness cultivation relevant to wise speech
    • Off-cushion practice
  • Multilingual speakers may have diverse relationship with words - differences in emotional connection with e.g. first language vs second language
  • Breakout group question: In your experience, what are the internal and external conditions that most support you in being mindful in speech?
    • For me: impatience with myself and others— feeling a sense of urgency, impending doom that something might get screwed up if I don't say it now!
      • Memories of too many moments unheard
    • Calling this wise communication instead of speech, inclusive of listening
      • (I wonder what the Pali word was for "wise speech"? Does it mean communication?)
    • Physical conditions (hunger, tired)
    • Participant mentioned Insight dialogue - another class similar to Interpersonal Dynamics?
  • In Pali, a learned person = "someone who has heard a lot" - listening was the only means by which people learned back then
  • The Buddha often reminded people to listen before he speaks
  • Important to practice wise listening to ourselves
    • Guided meditation
  • A participant shared that when someone speaks to us, it's a gift

Wise Speech Class 1 followup suttas.pdf153.0KB

Advice to Rāhula at Ambalaṭṭhikā MN 61

Excerpted for Sati Center course: Open Heart, Open Mind, Open Mouth (Nov 2021)

1. Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels’ Sanctuary.

2. Now on that occasion the venerable Rāhula was living at Ambalaṭṭhikā. Then, when it was evening, the Blessed One rose from meditation and went to the venerable Rāhula at Ambalaṭṭhikā. The venerable Rāhula saw the Blessed One coming in the distance and made a seat ready and set out water for washing the feet. The Blessed One sat down on the seat made ready and washed his feet. The venerable Rāhula paid homage to him and sat down at one side.

[...]

8. “What do you think, Rāhula? What is the purpose of a mirror?”

“For the purpose of reflection, venerable sir.”

“So too, Rāhula, an action with the body should be done after repeated reflection; an action by speech should be done after repeated reflection; an action by mind should be done after repeated reflection.

[...]

12. “Rāhula, when you wish to do an action by speech, you should reflect upon that same speech action thus: ‘Would this action that I wish to do by speech lead to my own affliction, or to the affliction of others, or to the affliction of both? Is it an unwholesome verbal action with painful consequences, with painful results?’ When you reflect, if you know: ‘This action that I wish to do by speech would lead to my own affliction, or to the affliction of others, or to the affliction of both; it is an unwholesome verbal action with painful consequences, with painful results,’ then you definitely should not do such an action by speech. But when you reflect, if you know: ‘This action that I wish to do by speech would not lead to my own affliction, or to the affliction of others, or to the affliction of both; it is a wholesome verbal action with pleasant consequences, with pleasant results,’ then you may do such an action by speech.

13. “Also, Rāhula, while you are doing an action by speech, you should reflect upon that same speech action thus: ‘Does this action that I am doing by speech lead to my own affliction, or to the affliction of others, or to the affliction of both? Is it an unwholesome verbal action with painful consequences, with painful results?’ When you reflect, if you know: ‘This action that I am doing by speech leads to my own affliction, or to the affliction of others, or to the affliction of both; it is an unwholesome verbal action with painful consequences, with painful results,’ then you should suspend such a verbal action. But when you reflect, if you know: ‘This action that I am doing by speech does not lead to my own affliction, or to the affliction of others, or to the affliction of both; it is a wholesome verbal action with pleasant consequences, with pleasant results,’ then you may continue in such an action by speech.

14. “Also, Rāhula, after you have done an action by speech, you should reflect upon that same speech action thus: ‘Did this action that I did by speech lead to my own affliction, or to the affliction of others, or to the affliction of both? Was it an unwholesome verbal action with painful consequences, with painful results?’ When you reflect, if you know: ‘This action that I did by speech led to my own affliction, or to the affliction of others, or to the affliction of both; it was an unwholesome verbal action with painful consequences, with painful results,’ then you should confess such a verbal action, reveal it, and lay it open to the Teacher or to your wise companions in the holy life. Having confessed it, revealed it, and laid it open, you should undertake restraint for the future. But when you reflect, if you know: ‘This action that I did by speech did not lead to my own affliction, or to the affliction of others, or to the affliction of both; it was a wholesome verbal action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results,’ you can abide happy and glad, training day and night in wholesome states.

[...]

18. “Rāhula, whatever recluses and brahmins in the past purified their bodily action, their verbal action, and their mental action, all did so by repeatedly reflecting thus. Whatever recluses and brahmins in the future will purify their bodily action, their verbal action, and their mental action, all will do so by repeatedly reflecting thus. Whatever recluses and brahmins in the present are purifying their bodily action, their verbal action, and their mental action, all are doing so by repeatedly reflecting thus. Therefore, Rāhula, you should train thus: ‘We will purify our bodily action, our verbal action, and our mental action by repeatedly reflecting upon them.’”

That is what the Blessed One said. The venerable Rāhula was satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

Bases of Talk AN 3:67

Excerpted for Sati Center course: Open Heart, Open Mind, Open Mouth (Nov 2021)

Note that we will return to this sutta later; this is a short excerpt for now.

You can know whether or not a person has what’s required by seeing how they take part in a discussion. If they lend an ear they have what’s required; if they don’t lend an ear they don’t have what’s required. Someone who has what’s required directly knows one thing, completely understands one thing, gives up one thing, and realizes one thing—and then they experience complete freedom.

This is the purpose of discussion, consultation, the requirements, and listening well, that is, the liberation of the mind by not grasping.

2021-11-16 Session 2

  • Participant shared that listening is sometimes hard, and Kim Allen offered that we can potentially internally label it eg. impatience to acknowledge the feeling
  • Samma Vaca (pronounced va-cha) - speech was the only form of words back then, so expanded modern interpretation is possible
  • Harsh criticism of our own speech as wise or not is ironically not wise speech

  • Things to think about re: speech:
    • Content
    • Mode: tone, pace
  • Things to avoid (but there's nuance to all of them)
    • Outright false
    • Harsh speech
    • Divisive/slanderous
      • Can be subtle e.g. agreeing with someone else on gossip
    • Idle chatter (pali: sampa palapa - onomatopoeia for "blah blah blah")
      • Chatting about the weather is ok
  • ...long list of items that the suttas recommend to avoid (politics, gossip, etc.)

  • Breakout group
    • Spiral method, avoid giving advice, be uplifting
    • Example of when I was able to avoid unskillful speech
    • I shared that I can avoid unskillful speech if I can fully listen first
  • Guided meditation
    • Understand our relationship with inner speech

Structure of the Buddha's Teachings on Wise Speech.pdf138.0KB

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