Right speech is a very complicated subject, and something I think about frequently. I don’t practice this well at all. Being compulsively truthful is not right speech. The Buddha explained it as follows:
- To abstain from false speech, especially don’t tell deliberate lies and speak deceitfully.
- To abstain from slanderous speech. Don’t use words maliciously against others.
- To abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others.
- To abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth.
Number one is what most of us think of, I think. And most folks understand the pro’s and con’s here.
Number four is good advice and most of us could reduce some idle chatter and not miss it much. But this one doesn’t really hit hard.
However, number two and three hit hard. I’m not a physically violent person, but I sure don’t hesitate to lash out with harsh words when I feel threatened.
Number two is where things fall down for me. Legally, slander or a disparaging statement one person to another doesn’t depend on truth, meaning it doesn’t matter if what I say about a person is true or not, if it harms the image of the other person, it’s slander. (must be true…it says so on Wikipedia).
But that’s pretty much all there is on Facebook, or at least that’s the way it seems. Same is true for youtube comments. Ever look at the comments?!? Unbelievable.
So what is the solution? Well, right there in the eightfold path, abstain.
Sigh…still working on it.