The Four Gates of Speech

In the last few days I seem to have been caught in the vortex of a maelstrom of words, flying around the very globe with incredible intensity, passion, and power...

Some of them truthful, some of them not...

Some of them hurtful, some of them uplifting...

Some of these words have brought tears to my eyes, because they were so touching, or because they engendered such sadness...

How can such a community of yoga practitioners be so grateful, and gracious, and vindictive, and unloving as well? And yet, how could we not? We are all part of the same human family with all its foibles and limitations...Still, we loosely assent to and try to embody, an ancient code of ethics, The Yamas and Niyamas, with so many souls already radiantly striving towards greater luminosity...

I have read the words of colleagues and friends who have spoken of a shared teacher whose instruction and genuine care has been nothing short of transformational in their lives. I know what they speak of - because they have given words to my own experience...

But I have also been privy to words and jokes that have been hateful, and spiteful as well, and spread all over social networking communities...

In my own writing, to others, and particularly here on this blog, I have tried to write about things that are inspirational or that are, at the very least, informational. I have strived, to take the high road, as my own teachers encouraged me to do these last few years, when I traversed a difficult time...

And so, yesterday, I was reminded of the Four Gates of Speech, an ancient Sufi practice, by my friend and colleague, BJ Galvan. John Friend, our shared teacher - often reminds his students to employ these questions, and at least consciously, I have tried not to hurt others through my words - written or spoken. And if I have, it has been inadvertent, and for this, I am deeply sorry!

This world, would be a much better place if we observed this practice, and asked ourselves:

Are these words true?
Are they necessary?
Are they beneficial?
Are they kind?

The practice bids us to not say what we consider articulating or writing - if the answer to any one of those questions is a "no."

As I try to watch, the flurry of words being flung far and wide, as best as I can without attachment, I am reminded of this wonderful practice. It is an opportunity for me, to not judge others for their words and actions, but to consider instead, the power of my own words. We have the ability to deeply affect others by what we say, and do as well...Practitioners of yoga know of the power that is inherent in words, and mantras, because of the teaching of Matrika Shakti...

At the end of each day, I like to review my day, and consider my own "bon mots" and good deeds. Did I make a difference in someone's life today? Did I smile at the tired cashier? Did I reach out to a stranger? Was I patient and caring with loved ones? I like to think of two imaginary pots before me, and depositing those actions and words like coins in my pot. I only hope, that at the end of every day, and especially my life - that my good words and deeds exceed my personal failings.

Comments

Leslie Salmon said…
Olga,
Thank you for the reminder you were reminded of (whew!). We have been given an opportunity to stand in our own light (also a 'John-ism', I think), especially with the Times article; and people are watching and listening. Our words are powerful, not to be wasted on negative, 'snipey' conversation. Thank you, again.
Olga Rasmussen said…
So true Leslie! A gentle reminder, especially, for myself, as I crafted this post. Last night, before I went to sleep, I kept thinking of these 4 gates, and how well I was keeping them! Love, and blessings,
Olga
dance2it said…
I recently came across a nice version of the from Sai Baba: "Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence?"
Olga Rasmussen said…
Thanks for sharing this one - lovely!

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