III Wise Speech
What is Wise Speech?
It is abstaining from false speech.
It is abstaining from deceptive speech.
It is abstaining from harmful speech.
It is abstaining from slanderous speech.
It is abstaining from harsh speech.
It is abstaining from idle chatter.
It is the cultivation of truthful speech.
It is the cultivation of helpful speech.
It is the cultivation of speech on the Dharma.
This is Wise Speech.
(My commentary: Members of my group will be quite familiar with this list. We recite these lines as we move out of our meditation period and into our check-in confabulations. The practice of Wise Speech is the third step of eight, ahead of meditation and concentration. Now I am aware that this list is not heirarchical, but still, it's high on the list. Speech occupies an interesting place in our lives. It's a window into our thoughts and it's a form of action that feels somehow less consequential than physical action, even though, that's really debatable. Practicing Wise Speech as outlined above can be extremely challenging, especially when starting out. It's a great place to begin Buddhist practice, maybe even better than meditation, at first. Even after years of practice, I know that I occasionally violate the final prohibitions on idle chatter and harsh speech.)
IV Contemplation on Wise Action
And what is Wise Action?
It is abstaining from taking life.
It is abstaining from stealing.
It is abstaining from sexual misconduct.
It is supporting the Dharma.
This is Wise Action.
(My commentary: This is a very short list of the ethical precepts of Buddhism. Many lists for lay practitioners include prohibitions on using intoxicants and lying. The latter is already covered in Part III, Wise Speech. As to the former, intoxicants: here in the heart of California's wine country, the prohibition on intoxicants can be troublesome for many people interested in Buddhism. One interpretation is to allow consumption of alcohol, but not to the point of clouding one's mind. The problem is that once you've had even one small glass of Syrah it's hard to see the mind clouding. I go through periods of complete abstinence, but I'm not currently in one now.)