Shuck and Jive

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mindful Speech

I am preparing for my sermon on the Letter of James. Chapter 3.

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire.

I found this by Thich Nhat Hanh in his book, Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames.

The Fourth Mindfulness Training:
Deep Listening and Loving Speech
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I vow to learn to speak truthfully with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family to the community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small. (p. 211)


  1. Thich Nhat Hanh is such a source, an amazing source of wisdom. I can remember with great clarity the first time I encountered his words in 1986... and those words continue to touch me.

    And what an interesting juxtaposition of James and Thich! Nice - this is but one of many reasons I love this blog. You lead us to think in entirely new ways.

    That said dear John... you have no idea how much I needed this today and how full circle it brings something.

    I have a terrible temper, it really flares. Well I had a bit of a flame on a blog as I reacted to someone else's pain and woundedness with my own anger.

    It has bothered me ever since - and that includes assisting at a wedding (I am sacrament girl this weekend) and at vigil mass.

    Good thing Jesus is such a cool dude. And then he sends someone like you with new insight and wisdom.

    Thanks John.

  2. Amen, John.

    We all need to hear this.

  3. Amen all.

    This was on Bill Moyers Journal last night. Several bloggers said it brought them to tears...especially the music, which starts at 4:00 minutes in. Call it mindful song...

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  5. James is listed in my newly restored list of early Judeo-Christian texts.

    At the moment, due to the scanner and my minimal work, it is in a very ugly state. But I've put it up there for you. I might make it more beautiful and helpful at a future date.

    The books I listed contain 95% of the works.

  6. **Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others**

    I think both of these are things that we all struggle with. But this does lead me to the question ... how closely is the inability to listen tied with the idea of absolute truth? If I'm convinced that my way gets one to peace, and thus there are certain steps to get to that peace, can I truly listen to the other person?

    I'm not saying we can't tell the other person "Let me share with you what helps me." This is telling the other person, "Let me share with you what can only help you." And sometimes, that viewpoint contradicts the idea of listening to someone.

  7. how closely is the inability to listen tied with the idea of absolute truth?

    Pretty close, I would guess. Mistaken beliefs about ourselves, others, life, and truth do not help us with our suffering.

    Thich Nhat Hanh has been helpful. I highly recommend his book, especially for anger in relationships.

    What I am learning from him is that it begins with the truth of our own suffering.

    What I really value about Buddhism is that it is so practical. It is about practice that makes us more aware of our emotions and attitudes and how to respond skillfully.

    We do it for ourselves and then we can be a blessing to others.