Wise speech is both an ethical and spiritual exploration. Committing ourselves to wise speech, we learn to listen inwardly to the words beneath the words. Attentive to the feelings, intentions, and thoughts beneath our words, we learn to cultivate the compassion, integrity, and kindness that bring harmony to our relationships and to our own mind.
Compassion and Integrity
Wise speech is rooted in compassion and integrity. It protects the people we speak to and protects our own heart from guilt and remorse. In learning to listen both outwardly and inwardly before we speak, we begin to appreciate the strength and fragility of the human heart.
Gathered around great philosophers in antiquity were schools, and schools were about training. Training, in turn, was about putting ideas into practice. Simple dialogue formulas and creative epigrams held the contours of a great teacher’s personality, but most importantly they defined the manner in which the philosophy was a lifestyle.
In antiquity, schools were not buildings but societies. They were social forces that defined the art of presence in the world.
Zen paintings are an example of the philosophy that says the essence of Zen teaching cannot be put into written or spoken words.
Multiple colors aren’t used in Zen painting – only the single hue of the ink. This is because it’s believed that true beauty cannot be expressed through colors and that colors are an imperfect expression of the ineffability of beauty. Therefore, colors are avoided.
What You See
Depending on the viewer, the ink takes on various tints and layers. It is said that Zen painting uses ink to express all five colors – green, blue, yellow, purple, and red. An infinite range of colors can be found within ink’s hue. What you can see is not all there is.
How can we expect to deepen in understanding if we do not live an ethical life? Living without integrity, we endlessly create the conditions for unpleasant mind states and feelings to arise.
A commitment to integrity is a commitment to living a life without residues, a life of loving kindness and freedom. Words, thought, and actions of loving kindness and integrity leave no trace of regret in our minds and hearts.