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Excerpted from Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das. Copyright© 1998 by Lama Surya Das. Excerpted by permission of Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Which thoughts do you sincerely want to express? It's a choice we make--sometimes hundreds of times every day."

Lama Surya Das, Awakening the Buddha Within, Part 1

Once the holy Hasidic master Baal Shem sent Yacov Yosef, his second-greatest pupil, an outstanding scholar and Kabbalist, to test the learning of Yechiel, a prospective son-in-law for Baal Shem's daughter, Udel. Yechiel, like the holy master, came from a simple German Jewish family.

When Yacov Yosef returned from his mission, he reported back to the Baal Shem Tov: "Yechiel answered, 'I don't know' to everything I asked him. I wonder about this guy..."

The Baal Shem Tov replied, "Oh God, I'd love to have such a man as my son-in-law."

The young man told the simple truth, which is sometimes easier said than done, and the old rabbi recognized his wisdom. Words can be gifts, words can be weapons, words can be magic; words can be prayer, poetry, or song. What is traditionally known as Right Speech is the third touchstone on the Eight-Fold Path. So speak your truth. Tell it like it is. There is no reason to do otherwise.


Everything You Say Can Express Your Buddha-Nature

In a world of exaggerated advertising campaigns, exploitative talk shows, hate radio, and political spin doctors, Right Speech and impeccable expression may seem to be a rather tall order. Yet if we are sincere about embodying the Dharma, our words ideally will become a reflection of our desire to help others. Think kindly; speak gently and clearly. The wisdom of cause and effect--or karma--teaches us that everything matters--every breath, every syllable, every sentence. As we walk the path to enlightenment, nothing is meaningless, and it all counts. Imagine that all the thoughts and fragmented sentences that are just now swirling through your head were printed out on a giant chalkboard--like the daily menu in some restaurants. Which thoughts do you sincerely want to express? It's a choice we make--sometimes hundreds of times every day. 

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