Sticks and Stones
“Actions speak louder than words”; “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”; “A chain is no stronger than its weakest link”; “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”. There are loads and loads of old sayings and quotes that reverberate with truth in the instant that we hear them, however others aren’t so true. For instance, “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” has a level of truth, but not a level that most of us can embody.
In my experience the damage an errant word, a verbal tirade, or an ill considered conversation can have, is as long lasting and can cut as deep as any physical wound. The scars that are left from unwise speech may not be seen on the surface of the body, but they are there, throbbing with mental agitation, inflamed with self-doubt and weeping with the want of wholeness.
It is one powerful being that can hear derogatory and critical things said about them or to them and be left unhurt and impressionless. The inner strength required to hear someone’s negative opinions of you and your actions and not take them on is colossal. Substantial inner strength and inner peace are the hallmarks of the being who is unaffected by another person or groups unhelpful words. These powerhouses are also able to discern the truth and the untruth in others words. They can hear the things that may assist them, even if the words are dripping with the venom of disapproval. They can take on board what is good and enlightened and throw overboard the worthless and fictitious.
Becoming a being who “names will never hurt me” is the one part of a two step process. The other step is using words truthfully and harmlessly so we never hurt another sentient being with what departs our mouth.
We become someone who is unaffected by others words by being impeccable in our own words, our own actions and our own thoughts. When we are at ease with the way that we are living life, the fuss and fascination of the world wanes. Humility, honesty, harmlessness and helpfulness are one of the recipes that will evoke this clean and joyous way of living. At ease in ourselves and our behaviour, we effortlessly hear delusion, witness illusion and sense ego and ignorance.
Each individual act of cleaning up of our own life, reveals the depths of how incorrect and ill considered words can be allowed to move by us without a quiver in the heart-mind. The power comes from purity, the discernment comes from inner faith in ourselves and having honestly and thoroughly studied our failings and strong points. Having an untainted understanding of ourselves will aid in deciphering the words we will keep and utilise and the ones we will deny access to our consciousness. Becoming a person who names or words never hurt us, is a worthy undertaking for the wise soul. There are so many words and names right now that want access to our minds. The ability to not be infected by the harmful, at the same time as being inspired by the helpful names and words, may be worth some time and effort.
My mum use to say she would wash my mouth out with soap if I used swear words. I now think I would like to wash my own mouth out with soap when an unkind, untruthful and careless word leaves my mouth. Having worked diligently with purifying my speech for more than 10 years I have made good progress. I hear impure words quickly and rephrase or apologise more often. I hear speech in others, that if adjusted ever so slightly, would drastically affect the speaker’s life and the lives of the people around him/her.
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart,
be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.”
Taking split seconds to consider the possible outcomes of our utterances, polishes the language we release. Considering our feelings and the feelings of the listener, engages a level of compassion that is by-passed when we blurt out ignorant speech. Finding the optimum word and the optimum tone and pitch enhance ingestion of wisdom. Even honest and challenging words can be heard a little easier when the heart has coated them with love before we share.
Asking myself, would I speak this way, in this tone or volume to my teacher, Ram Dass, has helped me to tame a tongue that was as sharp and as deadly as a samurai sword. Slowly, ever so slowly, words that may help, may heal are becoming the majority. Words that have compassion at the core, words that vibrate with cleanliness and love are the only words that I want to leave my mouth, so that those who “names may hurt” will not suffer because of me.
Love & Strength
Hanuman Das/ Greg