The Power of Words
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2007-12-18
Controlling our speech is a key spiritual practice. Remember Gurudeva's advice: "Think before you speak and speak only that which is true, kind, helpful and necessary." "Using profane language is a curse upon the system we call life." To accept life as our creation and not somebody else's takes our observation. If there's too much unresolved or disturbed activity in the subconscious mind then we can't get through it to the superconscious mind.
Recently a baby girl was born to a family of devotees in the USA who named their daughter Iniya, which means pleasant or sweet. This beautiful name reminded me of the chapter in the "Tirukural" entitled "Speaking Pleasant Words." One verse, for example, reads: "To utter harsh words when sweet ones would serve is like eating unripe fruits when ripe ones are at hand." That's a good verse. No one would do that. A few devotees have found the acronym TH(I)NK... Oh, excuse me I jumped ahead. Controlling our speech is certainly a key spiritual practice. Gurudeva gave a useful maxim in this regard: "Think before you speak, and speak only that which is true, kind, helpful and necessary." A few devotees have found the acronym TH(I)NK (with a silent I) a helpful way of remembering Gurudeva's advise that speech should be: T-True, H-Helpful, N-Necessary, K-Kind. So, think before you speak means two things. Means the acronym as well. Attending the first Sunday of the month homa at the spiritual park is an excellent way to be filled with the blessings of Lord Ganesha. However, to keep those blessings with us in the days and weeks that follow, control of speech is indeed necessary. Refraining from speaking unkind words of others, arguing or swearing requires control of the mind, requires utilizing our willpower to do what we know is the right and spiritual thing to do.
So, that's that one. In looking that up on our web site I came across Gurudeva's "Publisher's Desk, January 2001."
"Swearing and Backbiting and Gossip
"Using foul, denigrating language is a mindless habit for many, and few realize it's profoundly negative effects."
So it's one of the points Gurudeva made, he makes it rather strongly here, which I'll read in a minute, but let me tell the story first cause the whole thing may sound out of context. So many years ago it was a great learning experience for me. Carpenters were building our neighbor's house, Greg Smith's house, and they were very loud spoken so you could hear them all day long swearing away, you know, every fourth word was a swear word. And if something went wrong and one of them would start yelling and screaming and quite often would just jump in his car and with tires squealing drive away. [laughs] So this was all going on next door, you know and so in the monastery we don't get to see much of that. [laughs] But, you know the point is that once you get into the working world, you know, construction workers may be a little bit above normal, but swearing is acceptable in many work situations. You know, not major swearing but just kind of grumbling every, things don't go right, you know it's usually if like, you're a waiter, you just drop a dish and it breaks out comes the swear word. Or, if you're a carpenter and you hit your thumb out comes a whole long sentence. [laughs] Etcetera, so you know, it's just accepted as being OK. So, the challenge is to not have that acceptance, popular acceptance, wear off on you if you're subject to that environment. So, that's what Gurudeva about to talk about.
"Many people, even those who consider themselves religious, go through life using profane language to express their frustrations at each difficulty they meet. Do they know the effect of these negative mantras? Apparently not. People who swear--even if it is just under their breath--are cursing themselves. What does that mean? It means they are holding themselves back in life. They are demeaning themselves and making themselves unsuccessful. Their lack of success will create even more frustrations within the home, and more swearing. Even thinking a swear word is a negative mantra.
"Why do people repeat mantras? To generate a positive force for successful life. Why do people swear mentally, under their breath, or verbally, or at their children, or at their wives, or wives at their husbands? To vent their anger, spite or sarcasm, or just by mindless habit. But in the process, they unleash a negative force that will ruin their lives, break up their homes. (That's Gurudeva right? Very bold. [laughs] Ruin their lives. I don't want to ruin my life, no. Ah, he was very forceful.) ...ruin their lives and break up their homes. Every time you swear, that swearing goes into your subconscious and hooks up with all the other swear words you've said since you were a kid.
"Many people habitually swear as figures of speech. But all speech has its effect. Such mantras block their future and bind them to what they wish on others or crassly blurt out. This is a good way to curse oneself, to be sure, to build a big balloon of negative energy. Under that negative force, they will never be able to relax or enjoy a vacation. Many people live together as a family, but their home is broken, their lives are broken, because they broke their own heart and took their own courage away simply by swearing a repeated mantra. Using profane language is a curse upon the system we call life."
OK, don't forget that one.
So, Gurudeva goes on to talk about gossip and backbiting but we'll save that for another day. Oh, look at all these words here.
So, I thought I'd go to another aspect of speech from "Cognizantability."
So, "Aphorism Twenty-Eight:
"Speaking without due consideration and discrimination causes intellectual and psychic upheavals. Therefore, the control of speech is the second step in the transmutation of the creative forces.
"Speech is the second step in the transmutation process. To speak is to create, as to think is to create. Both go hand in hand. As a child is to man and woman, so is word to thought. Hence the control of the mind and tongue is of the greatest importance in the transmutation process. (Meaning getting energy from the lower chakras into the higher chakras or from the instinctive and intellectual mind into the superconscious mind.)
"Excessive talk overloads the subconscious mind, thus making it extremely difficult for the superconscious to express itself.
"You know what it is to have a basement full of things you have no use for. This basement may easily be compared to your subconscious mind. Thoughts and words can be compared to things. In your basement you have a furnace that supplies heat to the entire house. Your furnace can be compared to your superconscious mind. If your basement is too congested, you may not be able to get to the furnace to light it and heat your home. So it is within the storehouse of your subconscious. Silence lends itself to understanding. It allows you to perceive, then cognize, for is it not true that we talk excessively in our effort to understand what we are talking about?"
That's a good one. [laughs] So, excessive talk. Avoid excessive talk.
"Observation is the first faculty of the awakening of the superconscious regions. This observation is cultivated by abstinence from excessive talk.
"This aphorism is self-explanatory, for we can plainly see that -- in recognizing the fact that we have created our surroundings, and everything that happens to us, by our thoughts and desires of the past -- it takes the observation of our creations to bring us to the point where we can reconcile them with the thoughts and desires that created them."
So that's a very good point. So you can't see that or recognize that or accept that unless you have a certain quietness in the mind which helps cognition or insight take place. It's one of the basic challenges of life, is to accept life as our creation and not somebody else's. It's just so easy, particularly when things go poorly, that it's somebody else's fault. And we're just not able to see how that's still our creation. We always want to take credit for the good things and blame the bad things on someone else, right? That's human nature. Things go poorly; Oh they're against me, it's their fault, they did this this, but if it goes right you're ready to take credit. So, but it's not the case, both are the same. We're equally responsible for creating both of them. We create enemies. Enemies don't create themselves; we create our enemies. We create our friends. We create the whole thing. So to be able to accept the good and the bad, the positive and the negative, equally as our creation, takes our observation. And observation comes from avoiding excessive talk.
One last one, "Thirty-First Aphorism:
"Continuous observation will become paramount through the conscious mind when transmutation is practiced. With the control of the speech, the forces will continue to be transmuted.
"Observation brings us closer to seeing forms as they are in relation to other objects. In this I am suggesting the mind and thought as form or objects. When observation is practiced, we lend our lower nature willingly to the great all-knowing superconscious mind and blend our Ego into the essence of time and space, thus bringing forth understanding beyond the realms of reason. Continued observation unfolds perceptive meditation upon what we observe, and perception unfolds the power to cognize. Cognition is the result of perfect subconscious concentration."
So, that's a good statement, particularly the last one is; summarizes it quite succinctly. Subconscious, lack of subconscious concentration is when we're disturbed. Or worried, or trying to make decisions without our full mind on something. There's always this stir going on underneath which we're not necessarily aware of because we're in the conscious mind, but it's going on there. It's kind of in the background and so we need to get that under control in order for the superconscious to get through it. Otherwise, it's like Gurudeva said with the basement analogy. If there's too much junk in the basement we can't get to the furnace. So, likewise, if there's too much unresolved or disturbed activity in the subconscious mind we can't get through it to the superconscious mind.
OK, well thank you very much.
[End of transcript.]