Precepts – On Speech: #4 Not lying, #6 not praising self & #7 not slandering and gossiping


Yuzan Nancy Welch’s talk on the 3 precepts related to right speech. Nancy’s talk notes are posted in below for reference when you listen to the talk.

Right Speech — Precepts 4, 6, and 7 Red Cedar Dharma Hall April 24, 2013

#4 – A Disciple of Buddha is truthful, does not lie

–reasons we might choose to lie
-avoid responsibility, blame, and punishment
-please others; feel like we belong
-manipulate others to get what we want
-reassurance that we “know”; are in control-self deception
-protect ourselves and others
-avoid giving pain to others
-avoid conflict

*so easy to do-ex. of at a movie when asked by ticket person, “One child, one senior?” TOTALLY, seamlessly I just said “Yes”.

-causes confusion in others, fostering insecurity and mistrust
-self-deception; creating a false “reality”, avoiding the present moment
-unresolved conflicts continue to “simmer”, creating/holding grudges
-creates and maintains separation from others
-can protect others from harm, as in war
-can solidify into dogma-story of Mara (Rizzetto, pg.56)

-lies of silence
-complicity in another’s harmful choice
-protecting others from exposure/harm
-initiates a inner defensiveness which then must continue, deepening and

#6-A disciple of Buddha sees goodness, does not slander

-reasons we might choose to speak ill of others:
-revenge, having felt hurt by another
-to feel “in the know”—special
-to feel one belongs to a certain group at the exclusion of others
-to create a (false) sense of intimacy-secret-sharers

-creates separateness and disharmony between other s
-sows seeds of doubt and suspicion, encouraging mistrust
-intimacy between “secret-sharers” is false, based on rejecting another rather
accepting each other
-implies a constancy of character; unchanging; presents a person as a caricature
rather than a dynamic, multi-faceted human
– nurtures dehumanization, which in the extreme can provide justification of

-complicity of silence
-Latin maxim: “Qui tacat consentire videtur” –“silence implies consent” is used
in Robert’s Rules of Order and adopted as policy in organizations such as
NATO and the European Union—demonstrating the power of silence—
-listening to gossip with out speaking up or leaving the scene can be just as
harmful to self and others as being the speaker herself

*great example of my friend gently reminding me of this precept by saying, “Should I really be hearing this?”

#7-A disciple of Buddha is modest, does not praise self at the expense or disparagement of others

-Bodhidharma said, “Self-nature is subtle and mysterious. In the realm of the equitable
Dharma not dwelling upon I against you is called the Precept of Not Praising Yourself
While Abusing Others.

-can be one of the most subtle ways of harming others as comparison, whether good or
bad, separates us—high lights the differences and divides us from one another
-often involves drawing attention to our selves-wanting to be seen as special, sometimes
as “the best”, sometimes as “the worst”.
-self-praise, or any action or speech meant to draw attention to your self, even if not
criticizing others, is certainly immodest
-“energy suckers”-those of us are often playing the clown, teasing the teacher, holding
forth in “high dudgeon” serves only your own ego and, as was pointed out to me, again,
lovingly and gently-leaves no room of others to engage with you-or anyone really,
depending on how many people you are holding captive with your rant, or jokes, or
know-it-all observations.
-subtle criticisms are slippery—how many of us had the experience in which our parents
or teachers took the pencil, or dish you were washing or the broom you sweeping with-
took it right out of your hands and said “O-just let me do it—it will be faster, better-you-
fill-in-the-blank…or were taught how to behave through shame (ex. you spill your milk
and you are called clumsy, stupid—instead of hearing, “it was just a mistake, let’s clean
it up”?)

-praising ourselves and criticizing others is one of the more obvious ways to demonstrate the power of attachment, just as putting ourselves down as less than everyone also shows attachment—to be special
-such a hunger to be seen, no?

-this precept easily intersects with #6—how else best to puff our selves up than by saying
or thinking: Thank God that is not me!
-example from the bible of the publican and the beggar-each giving what they can to the
Temple but the richer man thanking God he has more to give—not out of generosity,
but out of pride.


The skills to practice again and again are those of mindfulness, of observing our own behavior and how it leads us to feel—being willing to listen to others when they say how your behavior affects them-with out defensiveness or pretending to take it in and then holding a grudge against them for the rest of your life. Some where I read or was told the best thing to do before you speak or pass judgment or jump into the gossip pool is to ask your self:
-Is what I am thinking or about to say true?
-Is it necessary?
-Is it kind and life encouraging?

AND-although we are not in control of what others think of us or how they will take in our words, are we truly using the most nurturing language-and can we sit still for a moment in what Rizzetto refers to as the dead spot-the moment before we speak, to consider the questions above.

This entry was posted in Dharma Talks. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>