Right Speech in the 21st Century

by Peter Carlson on July 18, 2013

This dhamma dialogue continues on the theme introduced last week on the  contemporary meaning of the teachings of the Buddha found in the discourse on the Four Noble Truths.  In particular, the topic reviews the classical characteristics of Samma Vaca, Right Speech, then explores the modern view that the sense of self is largely realized through internal narrative, before emerging into the spoken word.  Peter emphasized that the impulse that generates the internal narrative is a feeling, which is the urgent impulse to either become enmeshed in a pleasant feeling, or to avoid an unpleasant feeling.  Therefore the focus of mindful investigation is most skilfully applied at the level of feeling in the body, to prevent being “enchanted” by the emerging narrative, through craving and clinging.  This focus is in agreement with the Buddha’s teachings on how to modify karma through wise attention to feeling, found in the doctrine of dependent origination.  In next week’s dhamma dialogue, the focus will be on contemporary approaches to Samma Kammanta, Right Action.

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