The third step in the Eightfold Path is called Right Speech. As we travel the Eightfold Path we often find that the steps build on each other. In Right View we learned about adopting a realistic view of the world and with Right Intent we would adopt a mindset that values all human life and act with compassion. As much of our communication is centered around speech, we must understand the impact that our words have on each other. The power of our words and what we say to each other can have a positive influence or be extremely detrimental. Here are a few examples of Right Speech:
- Being truthful
- Refraining from gossiping and spreading rumors
- Speaking with kindness not anger
- Not criticizing people
- Speaking words of encouragement
These are just a few examples of Right Speech, but I think you get the idea. Right Speech should be speech that first does no harm. This requires a great amount of self control and relies heavily on to what degree you have mastered Right Intent. In my opinion you can also apply Right Speech to the written word as the overall goal should be the same.
How many times have you let your anger get the best of you and blurted out some hurtful language even to those you love? When was the last time you criticized someone to another behind their back? How often have you been fast and loose with the truth? I know that I need to work on Right Speech and I’m guessing it will take a while before it is mastered. If it were easy we would all reach enlightenment in a matter of days, but we should be grateful that the Buddha provided the path for us to follow, which will guide us along the way.