Saturday, January 5, 2013

6 points of mindful speech

Posted in a number of spots at Gampo Abbey are Chögyam Trungpa's 6 Points of Mindful Speech. I am working with these points as a practice (my comments are in blue below each one).
The eloquent silence of Gampo Abbey
1. Precision: Enunciate your words clearly.
Can I hear the beginning and end of the words that I speak? Do I trail off at the end of sentences? Do I project? Can I remember that when others have to strain to hear me, frustration and confusion can arise?

2. Simplicity: Choose your words well.
Do I need as many words as I'm using? Do I ramble? If so, is the rambling because of insecurity, cluttered thinking, a desire to monopolize the conversation, or something else?  

3. Pace: Speak slowly, without speed or aggression.
Do I speak as though I'm handing words to the listener, or as though I'm tossing words at the listener? When I “accost” people with fast talk (even though this may not be intentional), it increases anxiety and frustration.

4. Silence: Regard silence as an important part of speech.
Do I honor the silence between words? the silence between taking turns with another person when talking? When I don’t honor the silent spaces, I butt in, run my words together, and start thinking of what I'm going to say next instead of letting my words be informed by a bit of space. When I talk over top of silence, is it because I'm uncomfortable when things are quiet, that I think that my words are more important than those of the other person, or for some other reason? 

5. Others: Listen to the words, texture and quality of others’ speech.
Beyond listening to what another person is saying (the words), can I listen to how they speak? Hearing only the words of another person is like reading the lyrics of a song without hearing the accompanying music. I can glean a lot by listening also to pitch, rhythm, speed, and so on. I may find that they are saying something different from, or in addition to, what their words convey.

6. Self: Focus mindfulness on your speech.
When I bring awareness to exactly what I speak, as well as how I speak it, I can clarify instead of confuse, uplift instead of frustrate, and unify instead of divide.
Maybe having big Buddha ears would enhance our ability to listen.
On Talking, Kahlil Gibran from "The Prophet" 1923

You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts;
And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, 
and sound is a diversion and a pastime.
And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered.
For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly.
There are those among you who seek the talkative through fear of being alone.
The silence of aloneness reveals to their eyes their naked selves and they would escape.
And there are those who talk, and without knowledge or forethought reveal a truth 

which they themselves do not understand.
And there are those who have the truth within them, but they tell it not in words.
In the bosom of such as these the spirit dwells in rhythmic silence.
When you meet your friend on the roadside or in the market place, 
let the spirit in you move your lips and direct your tongue.
Let the voice within your voice speak to the ear of his ear;
For his soul will keep the truth of your heart as the taste of the wine is remembered
When the colour is forgotten and the vessel is no more.