Upright Speech

"Upright Speech" number 62 of 200 from Robert Aitken's book Miniatures of a Zen Master.

In this miniature Aitken Roshi reminds us that sometimes our speech has a bad smell as in "don't talk stink". There is no end to practice and realization. Zen is an ethics based practice. These ethics are embodied in the Eightfold Path and the precepts.

Speech can be hard to tame. Speech can be hard to encourage. Both saying too much and not saying enough are equally a problem. Thoughts and speech seem to go together. Loving thoughts generate loving speech. Deluded thoughts generate deluded speech. Tame thought and speech is tamed.

Or maybe it is the other way around. Loving speech leads to loving thoughts. Deluded speech leads to deluded thought. Tame speech and thoughts are tamed.

In practice, probably both. Although we can not control our thoughts, any more than we can control the beating of our hearts, we can develop the skill to control our speech. This is hard work. It as thought we are back in kindergarten. Can we mentor that young child within us? Can we remember the Golden Rule when we talk? Speech is such a powerful force.

Any error or confusion created by my commentary on Miniatures of a Zen Master
is solely a reflection of my own delusion and ignorance.
Any merit generated by this activity is solely the result of
Aitken Roshi's clear teaching and is dedicated to
all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas throughout space and time.