With practice, all things are possible and available to you. I have been focused on the Noble Eightfold Paths since being introduced to Buddhism many years ago. I felt I could practice a little on each one, as I saw them being very much intertwined, lending itself to each other principle. I still feel that to be true but know focusing on one at a time is a better way to fully understand and adopt the path. As I am a communicator, Right Thinking and Right Speech are pretty important to me. I always want to make sure the language I use to respond to others is of a kind and helpful nature. For the most part I have been successful; adjusting and adapting when it comes to my attention more work is needed. What I have recently noticed is my speech outwardly is much better than inwardly. I often times am harsh and anger with myself, expressing that through thoughts and words, but stopping isn’t coming easy.
Right speech encompasses so many things: not speaking cruelly, not exaggerating or embellishing, no double speak or meaning ( saying one thing to one person and another to the next), and not lying. While most of this is obvious, in practice it can become difficult, especially when others aren’t practicing the same way you are. I notice I can maintain great speech with others that are spiritual and of a positive nature, but I can get gossipy with some friends that make that their only kind of speech. I also notice I have to choose between being fully honest, or telling a white lie to spare someone’s feelings, as the truth can be at odds with compassion and doing no harm. The biggest thing I have noticed is how much my thoughts aren’t being observed in regards to speech towards myself. It’s all a dance and lately I have felt a bit out of step.
It is much easier to notice when my speech is flawed when dealing with others. Often times you can see it in the person’s face; mostly it comes back to you in their reply to you words. In these situations, you can spot where the misstep occurred, and decide how to correct your views (Right Views) and your thinking ( Right Intention, or Aspiration), to find the right words in the present and future. I feel pretty good in my process, as I am a person who wants to improve, but I have come to realize I do a pretty horrible job when it comes to speaking to myself. I use pretty harsh words when I try to correct habit energy or thoughts that stray from my purpose and goals. It’s not as though I am the first and only but I am the main one dealing with myself, so as I reflect on my path, this information has been troubling me more and more.
I am improving my active listening each day, as I use to be a lot worse at interrupting other’s speech to put forth my own idea. The best technique I have learned is to ask clarifying questions to understand as much as possible before responding. The interesting thing is I never thought to do that for myself. I am much quicker to call myself an idiot, berate myself for repeating mistakes, and just not giving myself the compassion I give to others. I have focused my attention on Right Views so that I had all the information to speak well and articulately, but I realize I skipped over Right Thinking, mostly in regards to myself. While I am thinking before I speak, I’m not correcting my negative thoughts enough to allow for my words to truly reflect my views in a compassionate manner. I felt that Right Views and Right Intention, or Thinking were so close together that I had already mastered it.
To clarify, Right Views is having a deep understanding of the Four Noble Truths of suffering. It is the ability to distinguish wholesome roots and unwholesome roots, changing perception away from deception that gets in the way of happiness and the full path available in the Noble Eightfold Paths. Basically it calls on you to be open and aware; to be accepting of all things, ready and willing to learn and grow. Right Thinking is the process by which you analyze those views, to be critical and continue to be a seeker for the purpose of bringing loving kindness and compassion through your words, actions and the remaining paths. My practice understood Right Views but merged Right Thinking with it, causing me to not focus enough attention on my thinking patterns that aren’t the best at present.
My thoughts on my missteps aren’t of a compassionate nature. I am not more critical of myself, I am just harsher with those criticisms as I am trying to correct those flaws. I just can’t seem to speak to my thoughts of fear, guilt and regret in a way that is compassionate and understanding as I do to others that express those feelings to me for counsel. While most would say that is normal, the idea that normal is an excuse or even a comfort bothers and saddens me. Because it’s normal doesn’t mean acceptable, and most use it to be compassionate, urging the other to give themselves a break, but can that also be planting the seeds of complacency?
I am on a mission to fully embrace a path of loving kindness and compassion. I am thankful to the Dharma and the Noble Eightfold Paths for a guide to the Buddha Nature inside of me. With continued practice, I know my thoughts towards myself will improve as well as my speech. This post is a great step and example of Right Thinking. I’m glad I am able to share it with all those that are seekers.