One sunny June day, right before Summer Vacation, I stood in my middle school Language Arts class, holding my report card. Class was over, kids were scattering, and I had an “A.”
My friend, Larry, stood in front of the teacher’s desk. I walked up to him and lifted his hand that held his report card.
“I have to talk to the teacher,” he moaned.
“You got a “C,” I shouted. “Man, I got an “A!”
“Shut up!” Larry screamed at me. I felt embarrassed and sorry.
In that moment, I learned a quick, simple lesson in the suffering brought on by glorifying myself while putting down others.
Living and traveling around in southern Nepal two thousand, six hundred years ago, Buddha knew how strong speech is in our human lives. What we say and how we say it can cause us and the people around us so much pain, and so much happiness. Before we say a word, we are aware of why we are speaking, what we are saying, and what effect our speech will have on the ears that hear it. Then, we speak at the right time. We speak the truth. We speak affectionately. We speak beneficially. And we speak with a mind filled with good-will. This is the speech that brings us and everyone around us happiness.
Speech can do that. Put those five elements of right speech to use and see what happens.