Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassaIntroduction to 3.4.2 Vibhaṅgasuttaṃ-4
What is Sammāvācā - Right Speech
This chapter presents various suttas that support understanding and applying the outstanding principles of right and noble speech. Sammāvācā
is probably the most difficult link of the Ariyo Maggo
to be maintained and is depicted here in a further short selective part of the Vibhaṅgasuttaṃ1
often stands on slippery grounds in an environment where one can so easily fall into the trap of wrong speech not only due to ignorance but mostly due to hope of āmisakiñcikkhahetu
– some imaginary little gain.
Right speech is characterized by the abstention from the four constituents of wrong speech: ‘musāvādo, pisuṇā vācā, pharusā vācā, samphappalāpo – ayaṃ, bhikkhave, micchāvācā
’ – ‘false speech, backbiting and slander, offending and harsh words and useless chatter, this O’ Bhikkhus is wrong speech!’
Safeguarding right speech through the determination to uphold it by avoiding unwholesome verbal actions, reinforces positive social behavior and wholesome conduct. However being embedded within the Noble Eightfold Path, as the first link in the threefold section of sīla
, indicates its importance for spiritual achievements. Upholding all the three parts of moral and ethical standard enhances harmony and peace, not only for the outside world around but it also operates as a base for mental calm and natural harmony within, itself again a prerequisite for spiritual development:
Sace cuto sīlavatato2 hoti, pavedhatī3 kamma virādhayitvā4;
Pajappatī5 patthayatī6 ca suddhiṃ, satthāva hīno7 pavasaṃ8 gharamhā.9
If one cuts oneself off from moral conduct, one trembles, failing in action;
And then desiring and craving for purity, he will find himself like someone lost - far from his caravan and far from home.10
The ability to communicate orally and in writing is one of the special features of mankind – words can bolster friendship, concord, boost amity and convey wisdom. But words can also create disharmony, break friendship and foster enmity, yield conflicts. Performance of wrong speech is linked to micchāsaṅkappo
where the drive to achieve possible desired benefits results in the volition to deceive, delude or harm, thus rooted in rāga
and – moha
will result in detrimental effects while maintaining sammāvācā
represents a prerequisite for higher achievements. Right speech is always based on commitment to truthfulness which again grounds in wisdom:
Na tassa paññā ca sutañca vaḍḍhati, yo sāhaso hoti naro pamatto12
The ability to comprehend is the substance of well spoken words,
The substance of learning and understanding is concentration.
But wisdom and learning won’t augment for a reckless and negligent man.
Pāli lesson (with audio) 3.4.2Linux users: If you are not able to playback the embedded audio in the PDF, you may download the audio .
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