Mangala Sutta 10

With apologies to subscribers to this blog – this post is out of order, accidentally not published when I thought it was, but I thought I’d go back to it anyway. It’s from the third verse:

Great learning and craft,
Well-trained in discipline,
With every utterance well-spoken;
This is the greatest blessing.

Well-spoken speech (subhāsitā vācā) expands on the previous line about being well-trained in discipline, and is also one of the elements of the Noble Eight-fold Path. The usual list of components of right speech are: truthfulness, harmonious (non-divisive) speech, gentle speech, and useful (not idle) speech. There’s also the question of timing; is it the right time and place to say these (planned) words?

Of all the activities we do in a normal day, talking is often one of the top three, after breathing and moving our bodies. Since we do so much of it, it’s worth really looking in to HOW we are talking. Is what we’re saying true? Is it worthwhile? Is it helpful? Is it necessary? After many years of considering these questions, I find the main result is that I listen (marginally) better than I used to, and am (at least somewhat) more careful of others’ sensitivities when I speak. My personality hasn’t fundamentally altered, just a few rough edges have been worn away; a worthwhile result in my estimation.

So, this verse altogether asks us to educate ourselves, to carry a set of moral guidelines internally, and to present ourselves to others verbally with skill. Simple but perhaps not easy.

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