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Diane Dreher's Tao Leadership Blog

Right Speech

The legendary peace rose

The Tao Te Ching tell us:

 

"Those who know do not speak.

Those who speak do not know."

 

How much of the speech we hear is truly meaningful today? The media is filled with invasive noise—misleading advertisements and corporate PR propaganda. Too much of what passes for news is celebrity gossip, one political crisis after another, and a president's emotional late night tweets.

 

Beneath all the surface noise, where can we find the truth?

 

For centuries, Buddhists have taught "Right Speech"—mindful, compassionate communication.

Wise Buddhist masters recommend pausing before speaking, asking ourselves:

 

Is it true?

Is it kind?

Is it necessary?

 

If more of us asked these questions, we would have less dishonesty, less hurtful conflict, less noise. Practicing Right Speech could create greater understanding, compassion, and peace within and around us.

 

Take a moment now to focus on Right Speech.

 

Close your eyes, take a deep breath and slowly release it. As you breathe slowly and deeply, feel your body relax with each breath.

 

Now think of a recent interaction with someone you know. Ask yourself if your words were true, kind, and necessary.

If so, breathe in the warm glow of that memory.

If not, send compassion to yourself and the other person with this Loving Kindness meditation:

 

  • May I be filled with loving kindness. May I be well. May I be free from suffering. May I be peaceful. May I be happy.
  • May you be filled with loving kindness. May you be well. May you be free from suffering. May you be peaceful. May you be happy.

Breathe in loving kindness and breathe out peace.

 

And next time, before you speak, remember to ask yourself:

Is it true?

Is it kind?

Is it necessary?

 

Practicing Right Speech will help heal the discord on this planet, one mindful interaction at a time.

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A Call to Action—Let’s Make a Difference Together

What can we do at a time like this, when we're experiencing a world out of balance— personally, politically, economically, and environmentally?  As we face the threat of hurricanes, fires, and violence in our communities, the storms of life can make us feel helpless and hopeless. Yet the creative work of New Orleans Habitat for Humanity has shown me that together we can make a difference.

 

During an earlier hurricane season, I was heartbroken when Katrina devastated New Orleans. I'd spent many happy summers there visiting my cousins while I was growing up. With its warm welcoming people, jazz, gumbo, and rich cultural history, New Orleans was for me a magical place, a city like no other. Then my beautiful city was flooded, people died, my relatives evacuated to Kentucky, and many more people were left homeless. I was angry at our government for not doing enough to help.

 

But my anger wasn't helping. Out where I live in California, I felt helpless and hopeless—until I realized what I could do: I'm a writer. So I began donating royalties from my book, Your Personal Renaissance, to Habitat New Orleans, beginning a creative partnership with the city I love. Since then I have felt personally connected, my own work a small part of the solution.

 

Habitat New Orleans has built houses, hope, and community, even created the Habitat Musicians' Village to support the city's rich musical tradition. I love how their work combines the energies of new homeowners, neighbors, and volunteers to build houses, hope, and a better future together.  

 

There are still many people in New Orleans suffering through the winter in dilapidated, unheated houses, concerned about their children's health and safety.  They're teachers, chefs, musicians, health care and hospitality workers, and stuggling single parents with young children.

 

So if you've been feeling overwhelmed by our collective problems, please click on this link to join me in partnership with New Orleans Habitat. A donation of any amount--$5, $10, $25 or more—will help. Thank you for your consideration.

 

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