A Day Of Right Speech

By: Venerable Rev. Brian Chang-Jin Kenna

Bob Ross is one of the most influential painter’s to ever put brush to canvas.  But along with his magnificent artwork he is also remembered for what he said and how he said it.  With his soothing voice, encouraging quotes, and mild mannerisms he inspired countless numbers of people to take up The Joy of Painting.  Even now, years after his death, his advice on life offers confidence and reassurance that it’s OK to make mistakes because they’re just “happy little accidents.” 

This exercise is devoted to setting aside one day to devote to Right Speech. We will commit to using speech in kind, harmonious & meaningful ways that empower others.

Begin your day a commitment to use speech in a way that promotes harmony, kindness and compassion.   Really focus on what you say as well as how you say it, as inflection can be just as powerful as the words themselves. Try to discover ways to keep your words positive and encouraging, even if you yourself are not feeling that way.  Remember what our precepts say about speech:

I undertake the training of verbal empowerment; I will abstain from meaningless speech.

I undertake the training of kind speech; I will abstain from harsh speech.

I undertake the training of meaningful speech; I will abstain from frivolous speech

I undertake the training of harmonious speech; I will abstain from slanderous speech.

Take note that 4 of our 10 Precepts deals directly with Right Speech.  This is something we need to cultivate and work on in our practice.  It’s not always easy, we get caught up in conversations that may not really be meaningful.  We forget to let people finish their thoughts & sentences and interrupt to get out own points across.  Discover how silence can speak volumes.   These are all things we can incorporate into our practice daily.   

At the end of the day reflect back on your Day of Right Speech, take some time to contemplate on what was positive and what were “happy little accidents.”   Then tomorrow you can do it all over again.  That’s the thing with the practice of Right Speech, is that it’s every day not just one.    



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5 responses to “A Day Of Right Speech

  1. Wayne

    Greetings Brian, The give and take of speech is what allows us to both teach and learn. Silence is an often overlooked aspect of training in speech. I added an addendum precept as a way to engage this training: I undertake the training of deep listening; I will abstain from running my mouth all the time.

    I bow,
    Wayne Shen Cheng

    • David Shen-Xi

      Indeed, Wayne Shen Cheng. Listening IS SPEECH too, and one of the core elements of what makes us human. It’s the path to harmony and good will. Listening is the “action in silence” and the way to an awakened body-mind. This is one of the reasons you are a good teacher of dharma. 🙏🏼

    • Brian

      Be Still & Embrace Silence. Two things that seem simple in idea, but present real challenges in practice.

  2. Niall Kenna

    Before we can say anything! we must listen,
    Measure twice cut once, so listen twice and speak once

    • Brian

      Indeed Niall,

      Far too often we are already forming a response to what is being said to us, that we stop actually listening to the other person. We may be hearing them, but not really listening to them.

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