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Excerpted from Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment 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.
 


"The Dharma tells us that if we listen carefully, we will be able to hear the natural Buddha in everyone."

Lama Surya Das, Awakening the Buddha Within
Part 5

Use Words to Help, Not Harm

Right Speech Reminds Us To Refrain From Causing Trouble With Speech That Is Hurtful Or Unnecessarily Disruptive

Have you ever had the experience of saying something and regretting it later? Perhaps something sarcastic that you thought was funny? Of course. We all have. When I began teaching, I quickly realized that if I made what I thought was a little ironic or facetious joke, some sensitive soul might end up feeling hurt, ridiculed, exposed, or betrayed.

One of Atisha's mind-training Lo-jong Slogans is Don't Talk About Injured Limbs It's a good slogan to remember because what we describe as a joke may in reality be pointing out another being's defects and weaknesses--not unlike staring or pointing a finger. It can be hurtful even though we are backing into it through a joke. And yet how hard it is to walk this talk. What a temptation it sometimes is to poke fun or show how funny and clever we can be with our quick tongues and caustic wit. Hurtful words reinforce personal alienation and a dualistic view. Slander sows discord; sensitive gentle speech can bring about peace and reconciliation.

The Dharma also reminds us that a judgmental point of view will obscure our higher view and distort our direct appreciation of how things are. In the New Testament, Jesus points out that we tend to notice the small imperfection in someone else's eye while overlooking the log sticking out of our own. A Tibetan proverb says: "Don't notice the tiny flea in the other person's hair and overlook the lumbering yak on your own nose." Judgmental words and self-righteous tones fail to help any situation.

Some people seem to be particularly gifted at using words to help others. They are so constructive, positive, and empathetic that they make you feel good whenever you talk to them. "How great for you," they say. "Tell me about it; I want to hear what you have to say." You can feel their intention to give support and encouragement. These communicative geniuses seem to have a special gift--they are able to truly see and hear others. Open and sensitive to what others are experiencing, these gifted listeners are real healers. Listening with a nonjudgmental and open heart is a way to bring bodhicitta and loving-kindness into your communication with others. The Dharma tells us that if we listen carefully, we will be able to hear the natural Buddha in everyone.

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