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Right Speech Loudmouth

Looking through Thich Nhat Hanh’s  The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, I found this section at the back that I had not previously read.

“Of course, you have the right to suffer, but as practitioners, you do not have the right not to practice. We all need to be understood and loved, but the practice is not merely to expect understanding and love. It is to practice understanding and love. Please don’t complain when no one seems to love or understand you. Make the effort to understand and love them better.”

The Buddhist framework for right speech is a useful tool when facing conflict or perceived conflict or just hurt feelings. Often in my attempt to practice right speech, I remain silent about things that bother me. Because I am an attention-seeking loudmouth, this practice has proved itself VERY valuable. When I gently silence myself and compassionately examine a situation, I can avoid inflating my suffering and sometimes that of others. Often times, I move through the situation and see it differently than I did when it originally came to be. However, since my natural instinct is to speak my mind, I do suffer quite a bit while I examine the situation. Here, the concept of basic goodness is helpful to me.

I am basically OK. So even though I am freaking out because I want to speak my mind and I feel like someone has been unfair or even mean, even though my chest is a bit tight, I am completely aware that I am OK right now, that this is impermanent and will dissolve or transform or be scattered by the wind.

But does this mean that I should not speak up when I feel that someone has lacked concern or care for me? “Make the effort to understand and love them better.” I think we also must love and understand ourselves better, so that when we do express ourselves, we create a dignified dialogue worthy of our heart’s investment. The space we open between friends has awesome transformative potential.

There is also always the possibility to practice right speech with total strangers, asking yourself, how can I understand this person better right now? Or how will my use of speech create an outcome in this situation? Maybe you can refrain from yelling at the person who was just rude to you. Maybe instead you tell them how they made you feel. Maybe you realize that your feelings are just a small part of everything and move on. Or maybe you shout “F**K YOU!” and make a note for the next time to reconsider.

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