quarta-feira, julho 26, 2006

Speak Easy

As a person with a tendency toward impulsive speech, I've often found it helpful to use an inner protocol that helps me determine whether the remark I'm about to make would be better left unsaid. A teacher of mine once remarked that before you speak, it's a good idea to ask yourself three questions:
Is this true?
Is it kind?
Is it necessary?

She called these questions the three gates of speech; versions of them can be found in many contemporary Buddhist and Hindu teachings. Remembering to ask them will at least give you pause, and that pause can be enough to hold back torrents of trouble.

IS WHAT I'M ABOUT TO SAY TRUE? One thing I like about these questions is that they open up a big space for contemplation. For example, does "true" mean only what is literally true? You know you're lying (hopefully!) when you willfully distort or deny facts. But what about slight exaggerations? If you leave out part of the story, is it still true? And where does opinion fit in? What is the "truth" about your friend's boyfriend, whom she sees as smart and interesting and you see as pretentious and arrogant? In sorting out truth from partial truth, lies or distortions, how do you account for personal perspective, which can alter our view of objective events to the point where two people can see one scene in radically different ways? Over time, you'll want to sort all this out for yourself. But in the short term, asking yourself "Is this true?" is a good way to become aware of certain dicey verbal tendencies — the slight exaggerations, unsupported assertions, and self-justifications that burble out of your mouth. Personally, I give myself a pass on storytelling. But when I catch myself saying in a tone of authority, "Patanjali never would have said that!" I've learned to ask myself, "Do I know that for sure?" Often, I'm forced to admit that I don't.

IS IT KIND? It may seem obvious that some remarks are kind and some are not. But what happens when kindness seems at odds with the truth? Are there certain truths that should not be spoken — even kindly — because they are simply too crushing? Or is it a form of cowardice to suppress a truth that you know will cause pain? What if your words could destroy a friendship, unmake a marriage, or ruin a life — do you speak them?

IS IT NECESSARY? "I've had words literally stick in my throat," a friend once told me, explaining why he had come to the conclusion that, when he's confronted with the conflict between kindness and truth, the best choice is simply to remain silent. But sometimes we must speak out even when we dread the consequences. It's obviously necessary — if we want to prevent wrongdoing — for an employee to let the boss know that the accountant is fudging the books, even if the accountant is a close friend. It's necessary at some point for a doctor to tell a terminally ill patient that she's likely to die soon. It's necessary to let your lover know that you're unhappy with him—before your un-happiness gets to the point where you're ready to pack your bags. But is it necessary to tell your friend that you saw his girlfriend with another guy? Or to join in the daily office discussions of the latest management screw-ups?

A few years ago, a young woman I'll call Greta spoke to me after a workshop. In her early teens, her father had sexually abused her. She'd been working with a therapist, and she'd decided that as part of her healing she needed to confront her father and also tell her sisters about it. She knew that this would shatter her very traditional family, humiliate her father, and perhaps not give her the satisfaction she wanted. She worried deeply about whether she was doing the right thing.

I suggested that Greta ask herself the three questions. To the first question "Is this true?" she had an unequivocal yes. She disposed of the "Is it kind?" question quickly and fiercely, believing that what she was about to do was a form of tough love. It was the third question, "Is this necessary?" that brought up her doubts.

Greta decided that speaking up was necessary, particularly because her sisters were still living at home. The effect on her family has been just as difficult and painful as she had feared; nonetheless, she believes she made the right decision. In this kind of process, we make decisions based on the best criteria we have. The consequences, intended or not, are not always in our hands.

I like to use these questions not as mechanisms for censorship but as reminders, as invitations to speak from the highest level of consciousness I'm capable of at any given moment. We all carry inside us multiple impulses, and we are all capable of operating from many layers of ourselves — from shadowy parts as well as from noble intentions and feelings.

But the magic of words is that they can, in and of themselves, transform our consciousness. Words and thoughts that vibrate at a higher level of resonance can change our inner state as well, and they certainly have an effect on the environment around us.

in "Me Talk Pretty" por Sally Kempton - Yoga Journal, Maio 2006

sábado, julho 01, 2006

Enjoy The Silence

Serve o presente post para celebrar o primeiro mês do Baltasar e como aqui ainda não havia nenhuma foto ao colo do pai... Porém, agora só haverá mais fotos quando ele fizer um ano (ou se no entretanto se justificar por alguma razão), uma vez que este blog tende a ser mais que o blog do Baltasar. Além de que ele quer preservar a sua privacidade. Por outro lado quem o quiser ver, sabe onde ele mora e ele até gosta de visitas.

Fiquem com um recorte de jornal!

Mês 1

O tema que vos deixo aqui tem vários significados: o de que o Baltasar gosta do silêncio (assim como gosta de o quebrar quando tem fome), o de que eu gosto de o ter nos meus braços e o de que a partir de hoje haverá silêncio... Apareçam!

"All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm

"Enjoy The Silence" - Depeche Mode (por Failure) Ouvir excerto