Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Harmless Speech Agreement and Community

Three years ago, Luminous Mind was founded with an intention for the Buddhist ethic of right speech to prevail in our community: not lying, slandering, speaking abusively or gossiping.

It's a high standard and we all fail from time to time, so it's good to regularly refresh our awareness and vow to speak in ways that are beneficial, not harmful, to oneself and others.

Here is the blog written three years ago to introduce a daring invitation... to take the Harmless Speech Agreement. I invite you to join me in taking it newly or for the first time:  Harmless Speech Agreement. While you're there, there are a number of articles in May 2009 about speech, looking at Buddha's teaching on right speech in a number of ways.

Speech is such a huge aspect of our lives and taking the vow will illuminate the places where we still have work to do. A good place to start is with your spiritual community. As the saying goes, "Don't (poop) where you eat." Keep your source of spiritual community and sustanance clean of harmful speech and thoughts. Don't talk about the people in your spiritual community. Don't pass on hearsay. If you have a concern, talk to the person directly, with the knowledge that your perception may be wrong, or else let it go. We don't have to be dharma cops on each other.

Life is messy. Waking up? The messiest. I am committed that we cultivate a culture where it's safe to be flawed, to be human, to simply be.... in other words, an environment of awareness. As we watch our speech, we'll wake up more and more to our own patterns and won't be able to project them on to others.

I make the same commitment to our participants. Gossip is the fastest way to ruin a community, and we're not having it here.

Tricycle Buddhist Magazine has recently offered some great teachings on Right Speech online.

Tricycle Teachings: Right Speech -- A 69-page e-book or pdf with the following chapters.

  1. "Right Speech," by the Buddha
  2. "Say it Right," by Katy Butler
  3. "Skillful Speech," by Allan Lokos
  4. "The Buddhist Guide to Gossip," by Nancy Baker
  5. "Family Dharma: Right Speech Reconsidered," by Beth Roth
  6. "Right Speech from a Tibetan Buddhist Perspective," by Roger Jackson
  7. "Right Speech in Marriage," by Susan Piver Brown
  8. "Right Lying," by Lin Jensen
  9. "The Truth about Gossip," by Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron

Right Speech: Online Retreat -- Four 20-30 minute video teachings by Vishvapani Blomfield. Throughout the retreat, Vishvapani shows us how to engage in Right Speech by asking ourselves, no matter what the medium: Is it truthful? Is it effective? Is it beneficial? Is it kind? Speech, Vishvapani tells us, is a central part of being human-it's what connects us to the people we surround ourselves with. When practiced wisely, Right Speech can have powerful and transforming effects and allow us to express true wisdom and compassion.

For full access to Tricyle's online offerings, you may need to become a member, but the donation is minimal.

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