Mitt Romney & Right Speech

Mitt Romney making mileage (one way or another) from events in Libya? He’s saying all the wrong things. As a general rule, Right Speech is not something politicians are good at. Their intention is to get people to believe in an illusion. Probably not very different from how things were 2600 years ago. The Buddha’s Teaching on Right Speech may well have been introduced after hearing the politicians of his day manipulating the truth for all the usual reasons. And that’s why we have the Teaching on Right Speech. It’s called ‘right’ speech because language doesn’t stretch far enough to accurately express all the subtleties of how people communicate. The important thing is to get it right and I’ve used Mitt Romney here as an example of getting it wrong.

‘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. The 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.’ [Link to: thebigview/eightfoldpath]

‘Abandoning divisive speech… What he has heard here he does not tell there to break those people apart from these people here…Thus reconciling those who have broken apart or cementing those who are united, he loves concord, delights in concord, enjoys concord, speaks things that create concord…

Abandoning abusive speech… He speaks words that are soothing to the ear, that are affectionate, that go to the heart, that are polite, appealing and pleasing to people at large…

Abandoning idle chatter… He speaks in season, speaks what is factual, what is in accordance with the goal, the Dhamma, and the Vinaya. He speaks words worth treasuring, seasonable, reasonable, circumscribed, connected with the goal… [The Samaññaphala Sutta, Kevatta Sutta and Cunda Kammaraputta Sutta]


‘In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, and endearing and agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. Why is that? Because the Tathagata has sympathy for living beings.’ [Abhaya Sutta]

[This post is based on an idea put forward by HLS]
Photo image: Yakshas (Thai: Yak) are common as guardians of the gates in Buddhist temples throughout the country. The yakshas are the attendants of Vaiśravana, a beneficent god who protects the righteous.


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