What You Say is Who You Are

by | Apr 11, 2022

What You Say Is Who You Are
“Kind speech can change the destiny of a nation”

In my last blog post I wrote about the dignity of kndness and how it is the ultimate declaration of a real human being. Now I want to take a closer look at how you express kindness.

There’s truth in the old saying, “talk is cheap because words are plentiful”. Words are an unlimited resource for dialogue. Language is at the top of our brain’s evolutionary ladder and serves us well for communicating everything from the simplest to the most grand thoughts. The myriad effects of what we say run from comfort and illuminating to cutting and harmful, so what we say to, and about, others has enormous consequences.

Because we have a highly developed cultural society, and because we have big brains, we talk a lot. Much of it is useful, but much more of it is simply rambling and long-winded chatter. I remember Eva Wong, one of my dear qigong teachers, saying that discursive talking is an immense drain on our innate energy; it is one reason why silence is so highly regarded in all wisdom traditions. The most prevalent form of discursive talking is gossip.

Everyone loves to gossip. It seems so natural and effortless to talk about other people, especially when we are among friends. We feel supported by folks that we think will agree gossipwith our opinions so we talk freely without much restraint. Sometimes this gossip can be a positive expression of praise and admiration for someone; this gives us a good feeling about them and ourselves. But too often it is critical and injurious; then this negativity creates a dark cloud over our feelings about them and, too, about ourselves. When our speech is negative, we feel negative – we actually are negative. This pall may be subtle but it causes us to become narrow in mind and closed in heart.

The great zen master Dogen, when speaking about the value of a community, said “kind speech can change the destiny of a nation”. Suppose we took this seriously and slowed down our tendency toward negative gossip, gave more thought to what we are about to say. What would happen if we made a conscious effort to speak positively about others and to listen more closely to what others have to say? We would feel better about ourselves.

When we spread rumors and talk in derogatory tones it shows that we suffer from a bias of negativity; we don’t feel good about ourselves so we don’t feel good about other people. This is another global pandemic: the feeling that we are basically different from other people. We are under the misconception that we are over here and every one else is over there. We lose sight of our basic human traits: everyone wants to be healthy, everyone wants to feel safe, everyone wants to be loved.

We can lose the true dignity of our humanity because of what we think and what we say. The Dhammapada tells us, “Our life is the creation of our mind. If a person speaks with an impure mind, suffering will follow as surely as the wheels of a cart follow the tracks of the ox that pulls it.”

We can rid our mind of impure thinking by making the purposeful effort to use kind speech. The expression of saying something positive, supportive and kind to another person actually changes our reality. We become genuinely kind. Even for a short time, that feeling of human diginity is hugely beneficial for your health..and their’s. Every expression of kindness adds good health and happiness to your life.

There’s truth in the old axiom that if you can’t say something good about the other person don’t say anything at all. That’s where silence is golden. But you can take that further along kind speechthe path of enlightenment and actively cultivate a compassionate heart by expressing kind words. It’s actually a practice where you consciously use considerate, even affectionate, words to communicate what needs to be said without a negative bias.

This isn’t make-believe; this is really expressing what you truly are – a kind and compassionate person who is speaking from their full humanity. No matter what you need to say to someone – or about someone – it is possible to speak from a heartfelt sense of kindness. When we do this it is a monumental step toward mitigating the anger that is endemic in our modern society. It closes the gap of separation that causes suffering and allows us to relax and open up to the full potential of our precious human life.

The exercises and meditaions in Spring Qigong are designed to cultivate the field of loving kindness for better health and happiness in this season of Rising Yang Qi.