Chapter 6.8 from "Study Circles for Divinity"
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6.8  SPEECH

WISE SAYINGS FROM DIFFERENT FAITHS

"Seek not the harshness of the words of others, seek not what they have done, and what they have not. Seek only your own words, what you have done and what you have not."     Buddha

"Let not your words to others be harsh and stern, for others may speak harsh words to you in return; realisation of this sort brings sorrow to you, besides having to face the assaults of the opponent too." 
 Buddha

"For it is not ye that speak but the spirit of your Father which speaketh in you."  Jesus Christ

"Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of his mouth, this defileth a man."    Jesus Christ

"Let your thoughts be inspired by Ahura Mazda; your words dictated by Ahura Mazda; and your deeds guided by Ahura Mazda."  Zarathustra

"Words that do not give offence and that are truthful, pleasant, and beneficial, and also the regular recitation of the Vedas - these are said to be the austerity of speech." Sri Krishna



FROM DISCOURSES OF SAI BABA

THE POWER OF WORDS

Once a teacher, having about ten students, was teaching them some good things. To such an ashram came one who had some position and power. This teacher did not go to the door to welcome and receive him. The man who came there, because he had some position and authority, felt somewhat hurt and he went right into the class and asked the teacher: "Why is it you didn't care for me? You have not come and received me. What are you doing?" The teacher said, "I am busy teaching the children some good things." The person who came in asked: "Just because you are teaching them some good things, are the hearts of these children going to be changed and become more sacred?" The teacher took courage and said: "Yes, of course, there is every possibility of their mind changing by my teaching." The intruder said: "No, I cannot believe it." The teacher replied: "When you cannot believe it, it simply means that you have no faith in it. Because of that, I cannot give up teaching these boys some good things."

Then this person, who felt somewhat important, started arguing and said there is no possibility of changing a mind merely by words. The teacher, who was clever and who had known these things, asked one of the youngest boys to stand up. In the hearing of this visitor, the teacher told the young boy: "Look here, my dear boy, you just get hold of the neck of this visitor and throw him out of the door." Immediately on hearing these words, the visitor became completely excited and he came to beat the teacher. Then the teacher asked: "Sir, what is the reason for your becoming so angry? We did not beat you, we did not throw you out, the only thing that has excited you to this rage of anger are the words which I conveyed to this young boy. You said that you do not believe in changing the mind by mere words. What is the reason why the mere words which I uttered to this young boy have changed your mind so much that you are so excited? With mere words you can cause any excitement. With mere words you can cause any amout of affection. With mere words you can earn the grace of anyone else."

So, if in this world you want to promote friendship, you can do so by using sweet words, by talking in a very sweet manner and by speaking about sacred things. (Chinna Katha 40)




WORDS REVEAL THE BREEDING OF THE SPEAKER

The tongue is the index of the breeding. "Hey, you clout! Did you hear soldiers march this way?" a man asked a blind farmer. Minutes later, another person accosted him: "Blind man! Open your mouth and tell me whether you heard the noise of soldiers marching along this way." Later, a third voice approached him: "Sir, did you hear some soldiers marching along this path?" At last another person came near and placed his hand upon his shoulder: "My dear man, please tell me, did you hear men marching along this road?" The blind man correctly described his interrogators as a soldier, a captain, a minister and the king himself. The words reveal the breeding of the speaker. The tongue is the armour of the heart; it guards one's life. Loud talk, long talk, wild talk, talk full of anger and hate, all these affect the health of man. They breed anger and hate in others; they wound, they excite, they enrage, they estrange. Why is silence said to be golden? The silent man has no enemies, though he may not have friends. He as the leisure and the chance to dive within himself and examine his own faults and failings. He has no more any inclination to seek them in others. If your foot slips, you earn a fracture; if your tongue slips, you fracture some one's faith or joy. That fracture can never be set right; that wound will fester forever. Therefore, use the tongue with great care. The softer you talk, the less you talk, the sweeter you talk, the better for you and the world. (290365)

Real eloquence consists in the exercise of restraint over speech. Excessive talking, use of abusive and obscene language and losing one's temper while speaking are some of the blunders that the tongue is bound to commit if it is engaged in constant chatter. The tongue is really meant for chanting the divinely potent Names of the Lord. The wound caused by a slip of the foot may be healed by medication; on the other hand, the damage caused by a slip of the tongue may be irreparable. That is why the tongue is carefully controlled at all times. (SSB 79,152
)


MAKE THE TONGUE HOLY

The tongue should be employed for doing sacred functions. One should speak sweet and sacred things and should not cause pain and hurt to others by his speech. It is a sin to abuse others. The Lord resides in everyone. This person who abuses others is in fact abusing the Lord Himself. In an exhortation to the tongue, Jayadeva said: "Oh, sacred tongue, you know what is sweet, truthful and beneficent. Utter, then, the supremely sweet words: Govinda, Damodara, Madhava." The tongue experiences sorrow or suffering in its own home without straying into the homes of others. It discretely decides beforehand whether an edible should be eaten or not. If it is sweet, it shows its consent by sending it down for digestion. But if it is bitter, it spits it out. If the tongue is properly used, it can be the means by which we can attain Godhood itself. Let the name of the Lord dance on our tongue, since remembrance of the Name is the easiest path to liberation in the Kali Age. We should use the tongue for uttering sweet and ruthful words. This sacred instrument is often misused. The sins that the tongue commits are four: lying, backbiting, invective, and loquacity. The tongue becomes sanctified if it refrains from indulging in these four sins. (060587)

One must learn the habit of making one's words sweet, soft and pleasant. A person is judged by his words. Words inflict damage in other ways too. Whenever we talk disparagingly or defamingly or sarcastically or hatefully of others, they get recorded on the tape which is our own mind. When we record on tape the talk given by someone, it lasts even after his passing away. So too, even after we pass away the impressions and impacts of evil thoughts, spiteful words and wicked plots survive physical disappearance. Never, therefore, use or listen to words that ridicule, scandalise, or hurt others. Slander is a direct sin. (310881)



CONTROL OF THE TONGUE

In the same manner, man's sense organs have to be used extremely carefully. When the senses are used on right lines, they are of immense help. But if they are used in the wrong way, they can cause great harm.

Among the senses, the tongue is a very important organ. Each sense organ has a specific function to perform. But the tongue has two functions: speech and taste. Jayadeva praised the tongue as the author of all sweetness and declared that he would use it only to chant the names of the Lord: "Govinda, Damodara, Madhava" and not misuse it for any unholy purposes. "I will use the tongue only for speaking the truth and the good", he said. In the Gita also it has been laid down that whatever is spoken should be soft, truthful and well-meaning. The tongue is thus endowed with sacred qualities. You have to be ever vigilant in the use of the tongue. It can be the means of liberation or bondage. Hence it has been accorded pride of place among the sense organs.

The ancient sages attached great importance to control of the senses and evolved various practices to achieve this. For instance, the tongue should not be allowed to have its way with regard to food. If it is pampered by being given whatever it desires, ultimately it will swallow up the man himself. (290689)

Control of the senses should be one of the primary aims of students. More than the sense organs, the sensory perceptions are powerful. They are sound, touch, form, taste and smell.

Among the sense organs the most important one is the mouth (or tongue) with the power of speech. If one can conquer the tongue he will be the master of all the other senses.

The tongue has two functions: speaking and eating. Whoever is able to master these two faculties will be able to raise himself to the level of the Divine. When the tongue becomes silent, the mind begins to talk. To control the mind's talk, the intellect (or intelligence) has to be awakened. Then one should strive to turn the intellect towards the Divine.

True spiritual striving consists in turning the tongue towards the mind, the mind towards the intellect, and the intellect towards the Divine. While this royal road is available to man, he chooses to immerse himself in worldly pleasures and gets submerged in sorrow. (230590)

BRIDLE THE MOUTH

The most important sense organ is the tongue. Mastery over it will enable one to master all other sense organs. The Kathopanishad has compared the senses to horses. What are the characteristics of a horse? It can run fast. But once a bridle is put in its mouth, its entire movement can be controlled. How is it that a small bridle is able to control such a large animal? For the horse the mouth is most important. Once the mouth is bridled, the entire animal comes under control. In the human context the mouth is the most important among the five sense organs. With a small flame we can kindle a big fire. The power of speech is like the flame. With its fire we can do many things. By controlling speech (and the tongue) you can acquire the capacity to master the world. Using the power of speech you can achieve something splendid or indulge in something mean. Speech can be employed for blessing one or blaming one. In a dithyramb in praise of the tongue, Jayadeva sings: "Oh, tongue! You
are pure! You are sweet! Do notindulge in idle talk. Sing the glories of the Lord - Govinda, Damodara, Madhava!"
"A slip of the foot may not cause much harm. But a slip of the tongue may take you to hell", says a proverb. When the tongue is used recklessly, it can cause great pain to the heart. There is no doctor on earth who can heal the wound caused by a harsh word. (230590)

Purity of speech. This means that one must speak the truth. He must be sweet and pleasant in speech and avoid using harsh words. Excessive talking should be avoided. Purity in speech implies avoidance of falsehood, garrulousness, abusive language, slanderous gossip and speech which causes pain to others. Today there is very little purity of speech. Bad thoughts and bad words are the order of the day. A vile tongue fouls the mind and dehumanises man. (070188)


RETURNED WITH THANKS


Buddha was seated alone one day, and later, some men gathered around him. One among them who did not like his teachings and the effect it had on the people, got up and started a tirade in very vulgar terms against him. Buddha sat smiling listening to all that calumny, without a single gesture of disapproval. The man got frothy in the mouth through rage, his vocabulary was fast getting exhausted, his tongue began to show signs of overwork, but, Buddha only asked him with a smile: "Brother, have you finished?" The man said: "You have no sense of shame; you do not even react when I abuse you. You are thick-skinned; you are a log of wood". Buddha asked him: "If a person does not accept a gift, what happens to it?" He said: "It remains with the giver." "Well, keep these gifts of abusive words with you, brother! I do not accept and react." (041065)

SANCTITY OF THE PROMISE

There must be the realisation that the Divine is omnipresent and that you cannot separate yourself from God. To remember the omnipresent Divine, to chant His glories and adore Him, you need the tongue (the power of speech). Jayadeva hailed the tongue as the God-given instrument for glorifying the Lord. This sacred instrument should not be misused in any way for speaking ill of others or causing unhappiness to them. As enjoined in the Gita, you should avoid unpleasant speech and use only words that are true, comforting and good. Harshness in speech should be avoided. Only when the tongue is used in this way can it become pure and sacred. When your speech is sanctified, your life itself becomes sanctified. There is no righteousness higher than Truth. "Truth alone trumphs." The Emperor Bali asked: "Is there a greater sin than going back on your word?" Once you have given a promise, you should not go back on it in any circumstance. This was the truth demonstrated by Bali. When you take a pledge or give a promise, you should uphold it even at the cost of your life. Once you give your word, you must make every effort to fulfil it. Nowadays, there is little respect for the plighted word. Promises are made freely and broken freely. Pledges are made and buried from moment to moment. Such persons are no better than living corpses.

Truth is the life-breath of speech
An army is the life-breath of a fort
Justice is the life-breath of society
The signature is the life-breath of a pro-note.

You must remember that once you begin to treat your promises lightly, it will become a life-long habit. Harischandra gave up his kingdom, his wife and son and even became a pitiable watchman in a cremation ground for the sake of upholding his plighted word. His supreme example as the votary of Truth shines like a beacon-light across the millennia of human history.

If you wish to earn a name for truthfulness, you have to adhere to truth steadfastly. Among the attributes of God, Truth is foremost. God is hailed as the Protector of Truth; the Propagator of Truth, the Embodiment of Truth. "Truth is God" goes the saying. Purity in speech is the second purity that has to be ensured.

Students! This is a crucial period in your lives. It is the stage in which your Divinity can blossom forth. It is the right time for you to strive to sublimate your speech and learn to honour your word. Most people are content to use words to suit the needs of the moment. They attach no lasting value to what they say and therefore do not live up to their words. (190189)

 

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