2021-06-13-Speaking as a Gift
3:10AM Jun 14, 2021
So for this Dharma talk, I'd like to begin with a story. And it seemed that there was a young woman who very much wanted to meditate, she had been introduced to meditation in college. And but college was a busy time, especially the last couple of years and coursework and all the other things of college. And but you look forward to a time when she could finish college and she really wanted to live at Dharma life. She was hoping to go live perhaps in a monastery or live at a retreat center, someplace where she really devote herself to kind of full time to the Dharma and integrate all of the practice into her life, not just meditation, but an integrated life integrated with with the path of liberation path of freedom, path of love. And so but then, soon after she graduated, her older sister and her older sister's husband, were in an accident and died. And her own parents were quite elderly and needed a lot of care. So she was left as a sole caretaker for her, her sister's two children. And her plans to be able to go off and live this integrated Dharma life didn't work out so well. And she found herself caring for two kids needing to care for our parents needing to work long hours, nor just have the, the finances to do all this. And there was no time for even for meditation, let alone thinking about their engaging and integrated Dharma life. But she went to and found a meditation teacher and and asked the teacher told her about the told the teacher about her problems and her challenges and, and what could she do. And the teacher said to her, Well, if you don't have time for meditation, and you want to live in integrated Dharma life and your life integrated with practice, then what you can do is have the practice of making sure that your words when you speak, are gifts, practice generosity, in your speech, whatever you say, think about how it can be a gift to the person you're speaking to. So that's what she did. And then she learned a lot about herself. In that process. She learned how often she was speaking not as a waveform of generosity, but as expressions of anger, or spite or fear or anxiety, or desire and wanting something and try to get someone to behave just right so that she could get what you wanted. And she got to see so much about what she what was operating was driving her and but she was told not just to look at not she wasn't told to look at that, but that's what came up. And, and then she had to work through that and adjust for that and find another way to come from a different place. And, and to have her words be gifts, arising out of generosity. generosity can't be an obligation, it can't be forced. It's a it's a kind of upwelling of goodness in the heart. And she found that in practicing, letting her words be a gift, she slowly learned how to do that and, and over time, it really transformed her. She grew and amazing ways. And she grew in freedom. She grew in love. She grew in his understanding and wisdom in a way that made her life integrated with a dharma. So are your words gifts? Could they be gifts for others? Could there be generosity practice in what you're saying? And this begins maybe by for you to understand what motivates you for what you're saying? What are they underlie What drives you to say what you say is generosity? Or is it something else?
Is it kindness and care and respect for others or something else? Is it? What is what's being expressed through those words? And what would it take for your words to be gifts? What are the gifts that people would like to receive? through words? Could you say all the things that you need to say, but do it in a way that seems pleasant for other people to hear? That feels right for other people to hear? That may be helps people relax or open or, or trust you in some deep way? How do you take care of yourself, socially and interactively with others, if your speech is always going to have this quality of generosity in it, this goodness, this gift, this in the words themselves. So that's maybe not an easy task, but it's a phenomenal task. And if What if some of you would like to really take your meditation practice, and really learned how to integrate it or expand what's happening meditation into the rest of your life. So meditation, just not just a refuge, relief from your life, but rather, it's the source from how you live your life. And if you that and you want to kind of grow into your life with a sense of freedom, integrity, openness, truthfulness, love and sensitivity that comes from meditation, if you want to spread that into your life, so the Your life is integrated with this. Then practice generosity and speaking. Do it as an exercise, do it as a way of learning about yourself. Do it as a way of, of stretching yourself, doing it do it as a way of understanding other people better, to be attuned to them. Rather than just attune to yourself, he better better attune to other people, attuned to care for them, and, but not at your own expense. Because you want to stay rooted in generosity. And then you can't sacrifice yourself because you have to really be available for yourself for this upwelling of this beautiful quality to be there. If we diminish yourself or forget yourself or sacrifice yourself too much for others. Maybe other generosity is not really there available. So to practice generosity, as a practice, to learn about yourself to learn, but others to learn about how to relate to other people. And I'm confident that if you're jet, if your speech is generous to others, you might actually be benefiting more than the other people. Because we all benefit from the The, the, from our own generosity, when that generosity comes with this upwelling of the heart, this freedom of the heart, this loosening up of the constrictions, the fear, the defensiveness, the resentments, the ambitions that get in the way of simple ordinary generosity. And you might argue with me that, that this is maybe not such a profound spiritual thing to do, or maybe a little bit of a, of a sentimental way of practicing or something artificial way of practicing. And that's far from what I intend to get across. But rather, it's a vehicle It's a means by which to really get deep into our hearts and minds to understand it to find out what really makes us tick. And to question it and maybe even debated than with yourself and really find out is, are you really coming from the best place, the most nourishing the most healthy place for you when you speak. And if you learn to speak with generosity, you'll come from the best place. I'm confident that you'll come someplace that will help you to grow into phenomenal health, freedom and wisdom and understanding, so to speak with generosity. So, when the Buddha taught about speech, he talked about five minutes he said different things at different times, but there's a point one, one list of five criteria for speaking
and do and generosity is not one of them. But but maybe all five of these are the means or the support to help us understand how to speak generously and as a gift. And what they point to is that, for the Buddha, Buddhist life, practice life is also a reflective life. It's a life that reflects and considers what it's doing. It doesn't just act impulsively you intuitively. But there's a consideration. And that consideration can be second nature does not be a lot of work. But sometimes it's completely appropriate to actually step back and think, go through these like five criteria for speaking. So the first one is the question is what I'm going to say now, what I want to say, is it timely, is it the right time, for me is the right time for the other person is the right time to have the conversation. It might be something very important that needs to be talked about. But it's not that time for it, someone is stressed out, they're busy, they're doing something else, they can't focus. Their mood is not really available for a real conversation, but what needs to be talked about? a different time, the more receptive the different time they're more ready and available. So is a timely? And and and when did we ask the question is a timely? You take into account the circumstances of the other person? is a timely for them? And would it be better to wait until it's the right time? The second is, is it true? What I'm going to say is a truthful. And and here's where it's so useful to be true to oneself, to be honest about to oneself, and to grow. And this self honesty, self up to truth and truthfulness in itself. But self truth, self honesty, in particular, is a is a guaranteed way to grow spiritually guaranteed way to grow on this path of liberation and freedom. I keep going back and be really honest, this is what's happening this way. And not just with the first thing you see. But that to keep looking what's really going on here what's happening here with me, what's really true here, it's a way of healing to do so it's a way of creating healthy relationships to really stay close to what's true. And sometimes what's true, is not the right time to speak to other people. But it's always the right time to note for yourself. So you consider is what I'm saying is true. Is it? Is it a lot? I don't know probably most people don't lie automatically. But is it a lie? Is it a falsehood? It might twisting a little bit? Am I adjusting what I'm saying? So it's mostly true, but I'm putting a little spin on it in order to make it look better or something? Is it true? The third is, is how I'm going to speak? Is it gentle? and gentle? might mean is it harmonious is its is it with a tone of voice that is friendly, that is that people would want to hear that feels, you know, a voice that supported for others, as opposed to a voice which is harsh. That comes across a kind of critical or angry or, or demanding or something? So, so is is what I'm gonna say, Can I am I gonna say it is a gentle or is it harsh? The fourth is, is it beneficial? Is what I'm going to say going to be beneficial is have a good purpose. And and part of that also is that maybe you'll say yes, it's beneficial, because of what my purpose is I have for it. However, I don't think the person is going to be receptive. So yes, I hope it could be beneficial. But in fact, when I realize a person is not receptive, I'm just going to waste my energy to keep saying this to the person that over and over again. And so to maybe it's not gonna be beneficial to say at the even though, in theory, it should be. Maybe there's no point to saying and actually maybe maybe it makes it worse if the person is closed to hearing what I need to what I want to talk about. Is it beneficial as other connotation other associations as well. Is it going to have a good impact on people, it's gonna have a good consequence. If I say this, maybe I feel it's a truth maybe I feel like I need to, you know,
I can say gently, but maybe the person will get angry, maybe the person will not want to see With my talk with me anymore, and so the doors are closed. And that's maybe not beneficial to have that kind of reaction. So is it beneficial that people learn from it to people change benefit in a beneficial way because of how we speak what we're saying? Is it beneficial. And there's a lot of speech, which was not particularly beneficial. The yesterday I was at a talk, and public talk, and, and I kind of thought that the talk wasn't so you know, very good talk. To say it simply. And, and I could find it so strange that I had this inside, I could feel this compulsion to want to tell my companions, you know, that wasn't a good talk, was it? And I look at myself and say, why would I want to say that? Why bother? Is it beneficial to say that? It may be it's true, that it was the talk wasn't particularly good. But why would I say that out loud. And what's, maybe there's another approach, I can have to talk about what the person talked about, and maybe I can highlight what was beneficial, maybe there was something beneficial, what the person talked about, and then we can all benefit in the conversation. If we spend time talking about how it was not a good talk, do we benefit from that? So is it timely is a true is what I'm going to say gentle, is it beneficial. And the last one is, is do I speak with a mind of loving kindness, align a mind of care have a mind of friendliness. And and sometimes there's difficult conversations to be made. But can I do that with a mind of kindness, of kind regard or friendly regard for self and others. And this is in the teachings of the Buddha, this has a very high value very puts tremendous importance on this idea of coming from a kind loving space. Coming from metta. And kind of my my assumption in my understanding of why the Buddha put such a high level of importance on the coming from loving kindness is that the alternative, the more often so often, is to come from a place that's not beneficial. To come from a place maybe of ill will, is to come from a place where there's not much freedom that goodwill met is when is really genuine, when it really is so comes with again, this upwelling of the heart, when it's healthy and nourishing, it is an expression of freedom, it comes from the kind of letting go of attachments and clinging, we're no longer contracted around something or tight around something. And so this idea of opening to the world. And so anything less than that, it goes in the opposite direction, to this wonderful Dharma path, the direct path of freedom. So if, and that's the big, big word. If what a person wants what you want, is to really take what you're maybe learning in meditation about yourself and the capacity for freedom for peace, for ease for love, finding it here in meditation, and, and want to kind of not leave it as something you do only in meditation, but to learn how to bring that into the life so that you live that, because maybe that's where the real honesty, real integrity, real, being true to yourself, really resides in this place of, of being being free. And to bring it into life. This is one of the great satisfying tasks. And it was certainly for me as a teacher, this is kind of what I love to hear this is what people want to do is to is to integrate or bring it into the whole of their life. And so, today, I'm suggesting that one way to do that is to practice generosity with your speech. Have your words be gifts to the people you speak them to, and, and learn how to do it in a timely way and speak what's true. Speak in a gentle or caring way. Speak with what's beneficial and speak
with a mind of loving kindness, a heart of loving kindness and in doing that, especially To the beneficial one, there's a feedback loop that we're constantly want to kind of reassess and see, how was that gift received? Was that a useful way to do it, because perhaps it takes a while we'll learn how to be generous in speech, so that it feels authentic for ourselves and, and is not to. Maybe contrived so that it makes other people actually uncomfortable. Because there's just too much trying to be generous, how to make it natural and simple. And, and so that when we speak, maybe we help people smile, we help people readjust their direction, which their mind and heart is going from talking about how a public talk was not such a good thing wasn't a good talk and, and kind of commiserate with each other. Oh, that wasn't so good. Versus talk about something that was beneficial, that kind of is a spark of joy and delight. And, and, and, and we benefit from shit talking about it. And so how can we spread joy, delight and benefit and growth, to grow in the Dharma? One of the great ways to grow in the Dharma is to be truthful. Maybe there's very little growth in the Dharma, without truth, that being true, true, honest to oneself. So those are my thoughts this this day, and I hope that it gives you some suggestions of how to practice in your life. And I hope that you benefit from it and then maybe run it as an experiment for a week and see what you learn in the process of practicing generosity and speech. So thank you very, very much.