The Five-Minute Buddhist Books

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The Five Precepts: The Fourth Precept

Rule number four is to refrain from incorrect speech. Right Speech, if you remember was a step on the eightfold path all by itself. Not only is right speech promoted and valued with Buddhists, but here ‚ÄúWrong Speech‚Äù is singled out for special negative treatment. We all know how damaging our words can be. Buddhism is all about seeking Truth, whatever that may be, and falsehoods work against that goal, often causing suffering in the process. Our words are powerful, and that’s really all that needs to be said. Even Thih Nhat Hanh had little to really add to this precept. In his words:

“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 or community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.”

There’s not much I can add to that. Lying is bad.

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