Right Speech During Trying Times October 21, 2020

This talk reviews the Wholesome Cetasika of Sammavaca, translated as Right Speech, which is also an important element of the Noble Eightfold Path.  The classical understanding of Right Speech is reviewed, which is coordinated with previously posted reviews of Hiri, Moral Shame  and Ottappa, Respect for Consequences, two other Wholesome Cetasikas, those factors that condition the organizing of the experience of selfing.  Additionally, insights are included that reference contemporary psychological concepts that help in understanding the manifestation of “Fake News” and “Misinformation” narratives that create much distress and confusion in contemporary life, particularly regarding politics and conflicts regarding global warming and how to protect oneself and others from covid-19.  The goal of the talk is to support applying the insights and discipline that regular mindfulness of breathing meditation can provide for coping with these challenges.  The hindrance of skeptical doubt is woven into the conflicted narratives and seeking the support of well-informed and trustworthy sources of information is encouraged.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Valuing Right Speech During These Trying Times  These notes include references to websites that provide resources for checking the validity of what might be encountered within social media.

Next week’s topic will combine two of the remaining cetasikas, Right Action and Right Livelihood, particularly as applied to managing our responses to the demands of these stressful times.


Guided Mindfulness of Thinking Meditation

This meditation focuses on learning how to use mindfulness of breathing practice to perceive internal narratives–the “selfing story”–as transient, impersonal fabrications that are natural processes such as hearing, etc., and not constituting an autonomous, enduring self.  Meditators are encouraged to note the difference between the here-and-now characteristics of sensory feelings and the flow of internal self-talk, which is often organized around reviewing the past or imagining the future.  The meditation is intended to accompany the posted talk entitled “Right Speech For Trying Times”, which followed this training meditation.


The Benefits Of Perfecting Truthfulness

This talk focuses on the Parami of Truthfulness (Sacca in Pali).  Truth is a core concept of Buddhism, most importantly at the core of the Four Noble Truths.  The traditional application of this Parami relates to verbal action, that is, Right Speech.  In this talk, Peter refers to the recently talk entitled “Buddhism And Existentialism”, posted on July 12.  Existential terms such as freedom, anguish, bad faith and authenticity can be understood from a Buddhist perspective as sunnata (emptiness), dukkha (distress and confusion), tanha and upadana (craving and clinging) and sanna (wisdom, that is, clear awareness and benevolent intention).  Peter emphasized that truthfulness is perfected as internal subjective experience is guided by mindfulness, investigation and benevolent intention.  This explanation was followed by discussion among the participants regarding how to bring truthfulness to fruition.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  The Benefits Of Perfecting Truthfulness

Next week’s talk will involve a report by a sangha member on a 10 day retreat in the Goenka body sweep practices.


Lojong And Wholesome Speech

This week’s discussion broached two aphorisms: Don’t speak about others’ defects, and Don’t become preoccupied with the opinions, behaviors and motivations of others.  These aphoristic commitments focus on activating Wholesome Speech, Action and Livelihood from the Eightfold Path.  Peter emphasized the practical steps for cultivating the mental clarity and constraint necessary to check one’s speech, avoiding anything that may create a sense of separation and diminishment of others, most exemplified by gossip.  He also commented on the common human mistake of “mind reading”, that is, the inclination to jump to conclusions about what someone’s intentions are.  This was followed by discussions among those present of  examples of gossiping and mind reading, along with what benefits regular daily meditation and memorizing the aphorisms can bring to interrupting hurtful and thoughtless behaviors.

Here are the notes developed for the talk:   AVOID FOCUSING ON THE DEFECTS OF OTHERS

Next week’s talk will focus on the benefits of intentionally investigating the emotionally charged self-states with mindfulness and equanimity.

Right Speech in the 21st Century

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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