120: Wise Speech (Sort Of)

We have Jenny on to teach us about wise speech. Wise speech, or right speech, is one of the 5 precepts of ethical conduct in Buddhism. Jenny, with her exposure to the Recovery Dharma and Refuge Recovery programs, explains what wise speech is, and we try to learn how it applies in our daily life. We explore the universe of 12 step world to see if any of the principles taught in 12 step programs are equivalent to this idea of wise speech. We look at false speech, malicious speech, harsh speech, and idle chatter as types of speech that we want to avoid. We give our own takes on how useful we feel wise speech is to our lives and if we totally agree with Buddha. Ultimately, taking more time to set the intentions or goals we hope to gain from what we are about to say seems like a pretty good idea that we don’t necessarily practice enough. Listen in to learn all about wise speech. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

Books Mentioned in this episode:

The Four Agreements – don Miguel Ruiz

The Five Levels of Attachment – don Miguel Ruiz Jr.

Click the links above to access these titles on Audible and sign up for a free 30-day trial. When you use our link to sign up, we earn a small commission!

Honesty episode

Zen episode

Work episode

Polyvagal Theory episode

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

welcome back it’s recovery sort of i’m jason a guy who does not speak very wisely and i’m billy i’m a person in long-term recovery and we have jenny today hi i’m jenny i’m a person in long-term sobriety and we’re going to talk about why speech which is an interesting concept that i have never heard of exactly i have a feeling once we get into it there’s probably some 12-step equivalent-ish type thing but i think it’s interesting that like there’s this buddhist concept and therefore a recovery dharma concept of wise speech and we don’t know anything about it so that’s why jenny’s here so maybe we just start there what the hell is my speech so when i was active in 12 steps like when i did the 12 steps with a sponsor she introduced me to the um like a speaking concept it was does it need to be said does it need to be said by me does it need to be said right now did you have that yeah i’ve heard that somewhere along the way i don’t know that any of my sponsors actually told me that but i i picked it up somewhere yeah and that’s been a part of something i think i’ve picked up probably through buddhist teachings and meditation it’s like i don’t always need to just say whatever i think without thinking about what i’m gonna say okay yeah that was probably the first time i considered like how you know like in recovery how to treat speech maybe before that though um do you guys remember the book the four agreements did did either of you read that one never read that i have not read it i actually read the dude’s sons book okay the five levels of attachment oh that does sound interesting i’ll have to check that one out the four agreements i read that one actually i probably i think i read that one in my drinking days like because i was probably seeking some kind of spiritual balance though i didn’t really have those words for it but in the four agreements one of his strong suggestions was impeccable speech and then that came up in recovery circles too that just reminds me of that meme where like it’s just like some asian sign above a urinal that’s like p impeccably or something like that p with precision and grace i don’t know why that comes to my head i look at too many memes well um yeah i guess so that that that was a lingering thing in my head about impeccable speech i mean communications interested me for a long time but not until i got into a buddhist recovery program did i start um learning like kind of rules around speech that would make for a better life i guess we’ll put it so um feel free to jump in if you have any questions i’m just stuck on the four agreements while you were drinking i’m like yeah agreement number one uh beer before liquor or something yeah i don’t know it was a short book like i definitely was not a big reader in my drinking days i used to be before i was a big drinker and then reading kind of fell awayside but this book was small and i think i i took it in like a day and then went back to drinking reading reading got in the way of my drinking but uh i guess that’s a small book so i i got that read drunk is that a thing

do people even try i think it makes me dizzy just thinking about it i get bored pass out mind wanders like i used to be a really big reader in high school and then that’s what happens to me when i read now i get bored fall asleep just don’t teach this concept too well because i feel like most of my speech isn’t why i speech and i’m okay with it so i don’t want to get two eyes yeah this whole podcast is not why speech

um and i’m i am not perfect like i when i you know what i’m going to tell you what i’ve learned about buddhism and why is speech it’s like perfect i don’t believe it or not just leave now bye guys the only reason we had you all here um so uh where were we okay so first of all i am not an official buddhist teacher i am just like a buddhist aficionado like everything i know about buddhism i’ve learned from like refuge recovering recovery dharma i’ve watched podcasts i mean i’ve watched youtube and podcasts uh like tar brock jack cornfield um and doug secular dharma i have to give a shout out to him he’s taught me a lot about buddhism so i’m not any kind of certified buddhist teacher i’m just gonna tell you guys what i’ve learned this is so judgy of me but you said those two names and i was like oh white people buddhism yeah and they’ll call it that too they know yeah but they’re trying to do better they’re trying does that does that like clarification of that you’re not a buddhist teacher does that come from like a a self-worth kind of thing like i better clarify i’m not good enough before i start maybe it’s a disclaimer as if like hey if i get it wrong go easy on me don’t you think anybody who’s well-versed enough to know you got it wrong would go easy on you because they have wise speech i don’t know sorry old habits die hard i don’t know i’m therapising her podcast

so i’m going to start with in buddhism there’s the eightfold path and why speech is one of the folds we’ll say so a quick run down of the eightfold path it’s um wise intention and wise understanding that’s the wisdom section wise intention and wise understanding that’s in the wisdom section don’t get too hung up there hold on i’m just thinking the next section is the ethics section that’s why speech wise action and why is livelihood ethics and then finally is the mind section why’s effort why is meditation why is concentration so that’s a quick rundown of the eightfold path now we’ll go back to why speech which is in the ethics i i got so many questions like why is it folds why is it eight folds i don’t know i don’t like laundry is it a laundry list i guess it’s just kind of like the language of the era you know it’s often represented by a wheel eight spokes in a wheel that’s not folds i don’t know so the eight spoke path the eight spoke past nine that doesn’t sound really good either flowy maybe because they’re overlapping like you can’t have one without the other it’s true that’s that’s true maybe because it’s they work together all the time they’re not it’s warm and fuzzy like laundry when you take it out of the dryer and you fold it it’s like oh that’s exactly full of paint that’s what they were thinking it’s so warm what little scent of a breeze to it use dryer sheets um oh i thought we all knew dryer sheets were made up and they don’t really need them um the the wise thing like the wise is in front of all those folds like the wise folds uh i just seem so subjective like who’s judging the wise right because you got the wise people on facebook you know the fake news and sheeple and all that they they think they’re wise and then the people follow and the scientists think they’re wise and like that’s very like it just leaves a lot of room for well you’re not judging somebody else it’s your actions it’s your own do your best use your best wisdom with these that sounds dangerous in our world do you want everybody to follow the rules billy or to follow their own wisdom i’m a rule follower so i like people that follow the rules hmm yeah i don’t know i don’t know if i trust everybody following their own wisdom but that might not be wise speech with me to put people down like that all right sorry well ideally they’re cultivating a nice inner self so that they are doing well i have a feeling this idea of all these wises the different ones in the the path none of them are specifically about like a rule or a right or a wrong they’re probably all more focused on like what’s kind and loving in treating other people nicely not what’s right or wrong or what you’re owed or who did you wrong and you know they’re not supposed to lose an eye because they took your eye or like it’s not about that it’s like how can you be good yeah it really is it’s just intuitively like hey what’s the kindest least harmful way so when i do break down the rules because buddhism has i guess they’re not they’re guidelines they’re not rules the buddha’s like hey if you want less suffering follow these guidelines i wonder if it should be like kind instead of wise like kind speech well kind intention similar to you i i try to not think of wise as in smart but like the wise is more of you should be like thoughtful in what you do you should not just be reactive but you should like think before you do these things and actually like and try to incorporate them into your life not just do whatever you feel like all the time so maybe the the wise is also a hangover like fold like maybe it’s just a word for another era where like thoughtful is more the interpretation of it like that makes more sense and you can’t use mindful because that’s way overused oh yeah that’s why people buddhism too and so sometimes instead of wise they say right

speech yeah i’m going with billy on this one thoughtful that makes more sense well i think what they’re trying to indicate is you know it’s like your highest self like so it’s all like using your intelligence your kindness your um all the best of you put into that so it’s incorporating the best of you noblest yeah it’s a foo fighter so yeah anyway all right i’ve held us up long enough let’s get to this wise stuff so um why speech so is uh like is is um part of the eightfold path and now when you work the eightfold path it’s not like 12 steps where you do them in order you’ll learn them in a certain order but when you like work them you kind of do them all at once i know that sounds intimidating but some situations call for a little of this and all that so you know like you know when you’re communicating with uh your boss you want to use wise speech and like wise effort you know or you you combine the different aspects of the eightfold path as the situation needs it you know like you’re gonna choose you well you know it all starts with intention let me go back to that intention especially with speech if you set out the intention you’re like i wanna do my best and i wanna speak you know from my highest self that’s where it begins and wise intention is like the first one you learn in the eightfold path at least in the ways i’ve learned buddhism is that the first in the list it is yeah it’s the first in the list and that’s how i’ve learned it like with recovery dharma and refuge and you start with intention like what’s your intention so that’s like a foundational principle yes not honesty i feel like in 12-step honesty is like that first foundational principle which we just talked about recently that’s a good one but i i feel like intention comes even maybe before that or maybe intention is a part of honesty like that self-honesty piece can we compare to the word willingness that they throw around and talk stuff do you think intention is willingness i don’t think of intention as willingness yeah you did say the the thing about like you kind of work all these at once but i feel like even though the steps are laid out to work in a certain order one at a time we commonly hear in a meeting or not like you live these long before you work them or understand them or any of that like you do start applying them even before especially when you start trying to apologize in your first week that’s that’s true and i’ve heard you know like oh every every day i wake up and do the first three steps like people do the 12 steps every day you know so so yeah intention i don’t know if that has an equivalent in in our spiritual principles i can’t think of an equivalent i mean i feel like it involves some of them though like you need the self-honesty of the intention that you’re setting right like what is my intention going into this situation is it to get over on somebody or is it to really help somebody else like so you need some some of our principles to get the intention but i don’t know that we have a well funny enough when i think of intention immediately in recovery what i think back to is like people don’t shouldn’t judge you by your intentions they judge you by your actions like i’m not judged by my intentions and where that for me comes from is i’ve heard it sort of explained that like when i was using i wasn’t like it wasn’t like yeah i’m gonna go steal from my family so that i can get more drugs and do all this stuff it was like i did it i’m like man that was terrible or when i said i was gonna show up for somebody’s birthday party or get somebody a present or do any of those things my intention was to do those things my actions never followed up with that intention so my intention meant nothing you know my intention is worthless because my action didn’t represent my intention yeah and i’ve kind of heard that too that similar idea like when we’re in active use you know we think people are going to judge us by our intentions but they don’t because they never see them they only see the actions that don’t follow the intentions that aren’t good but then you know the idea of recovery is to live more in line with our intentions because that’s what people are judging is the action part of it but and i’m sure you know this probably starts as like a get to know the intention and then be able to follow it like that’s probably the rest of the seven folds is the ways to actually live in that intention but that yeah we need a new step we need step point five well i don’t think buddhists approach life from the standpoint of like you’re totally [ _ ] up mess piece of [ _ ] you need to reevaluate your life you know when we come into recovery that’s what we’re coming in with like we’re coming in with you’re totally screwed up in a [ _ ] mess so you need to just sit down and shut up and listen up well and that’s i you know i know we like to say that this is a spiritual not religious program but really like our whole western society is based around christianity oh for sure and christianity’s beliefs are people are [ _ ] sinners at heart and if you don’t do something about that you’re just a piece of [ _ ] like you to do something and you know get your jesus or whatever it is to to get better because at your core you’re bad like that’s where christianity starts is you’re bad and this is going to make you better and like i don’t i agree i think buddhism and other philosophies are like oh no we’re we’re good we just need to find ways to be that well i guess at some in some respects it is important that our intentions are good because if my intentions all along are to like steal from people and hurt the people that i love then i got no hope of changing that behavior like if that’s my intention from the [ _ ] get-go you know then we’re really in trouble step .5 we realized our intention sucked the buddhists do believe that you are good on the inside so you know when sick people come in to the program you know like it’s like well this person is uh consumed by greed hatred and delusion right now so you know using compassion and kindness and patience help them get well it’s like therapy yes yeah yeah buddhism therapy go good together i don’t want to take us too far off track but like this is kind of the debate in america right now right i feel like one side of the the people feel like people are bad to begin with right and they’re like no we can’t give out uh child stimulus credits permanently because people will spend them on drugs and not go to work right like that’s the argument right like or we can’t give out this money we gotta drug test people because we just know they’re gonna they’re [ _ ] stealing from our taxes like and then the other half is like well we just want to give these people the benefit of the doubt and give them some money so that they can try to not be poor right so it’s very much this this kind of debate in our world today of do we can and i think that holdover of people are bad to begin with and we should always come from that angle that’s very much a christian belief and it’s it’s weird when you think of christianity and all this love and peace and joy and [ _ ] but like what you realize is no that’s a judgmental you know i think people start as being bad and we should protect ourselves from that i’m like well i mean my experience with christianity is that’s been the difference of the versions that have appealed to me over the years versus the ones that haven’t like i was raised in that catholic very judgey or a center kind of way and that pushed me away from a relationship with god or anything and at other times i’ve been involved with churches or and organized christian religions that do focus way more on the love side of things and weigh less on the judgey kind of thing so if you look you can find it but you’re right in in common it seems like especially the older ones like the older the religion it’s more the newer non-denominational non-secular ones that seem to be more focused on like the loving aspects well and i don’t want to be taken wrong here i’m not saying that christians are bad people or that that’s their focus but i think christianity as a religion has is based on the idea of original sin and you’re born with it and you have to do these things to not be bad like it’s not that i’m saying that everybody who practices christianity thinks that way or wants to hate people or any of that like it’s just that it’s now ingrained in our society and our pop culture beliefs like it it’s a very ingrained idea that people subliminally yeah yeah undertone or whatever right exactly yeah it’s not that i think that practicing christians are you know necessarily consciously operate from that but i do think it is so in our our fiber right now like this is what we believe yeah and it’s funny i find myself saying that kind of stuff to people all the time like and not for buddhist reasons but just in general i believe most people are good most people want to do the right things most people don’t want to cause harm in the lives of others and so i try to approach people that way i mean that sounds like wise speech billy


let’s go back to the y’s okay so um let me include here um in buddhism they have the precepts have you heard of that so these are i guess these will be in comparison to like the 12 commandments but in buddhism they have the five precepts bare minimum oh there’s only five that’s way more difficult other sections of buddhism have like up to 36. but these five are usually across the board in all the different varieties of buddhism and the five are no killing no stealing no sexual misconduct no lying that’s the speech one and no intoxicants um no lying the buddha was very firm about honesty and i guess that’s where you can tie it into the 12 steps the buddha was very firm like yes you should always be honest bare minimum huh so that’s part of the five priesthood we need to have him on our honesty episode because we just decided that was not the case yeah we decided it’s not great all the time how did we listen to that one i’m sure i heard it um we’ll have honesty it is honesty part two we just recorded it all right well maybe i’ll be around for honesty part three i can speak up for the buddha there you go i’ll get somebody who knows more yeah well you’ll take the test and tell us what it would have done all right channel my inner buddha we all have a boot inside that sounds like it’s sexual misconduct


it’s a very i tell you this tells you what i think of myself every time she says uh no sexual misconduct as a buddhist precept like i think she said that on another episode i was like who’s judging this sexual mystery right what is sexual misconduct i don’t know if i agree with this one all the rest of them sound good no killing sure no sexual was kind of i don’t know i might be one i might be a little misconduct anyway so why is why speech important to recovery yes i’m sure all three of us have a ton of stories of how we have lied manipulated to get what we want um but then also like that’s just yesterday yeah yeah um and then this includes why speech includes all the ways we community communicate especially you know these days texting uh social media emails so it’s not just speaking it’s all the ways we communicate and we should include listening to all the things we take in all the information we take in um oh my god i live friday okay let’s hear about it so i was supposed to go hang out with my buddy we had planned it a couple weeks ago oh my god you’re gonna confess this right i am jack i’m sorry already if you’re listening um we were supposed to hang out i was looking forward to it we were supposed to hang out right after christmas but then he had to work and then we planned this next hangout and then we didn’t my wife and i did not ever get my daughter’s basketball games on our calendar and so she had a game at six o’clock and i didn’t realize it um so i was feeling ill all week and then thursday i felt really ill i left work i went and got a covet test negative yay so friday came oh i told him thursday night i was like man i don’t know i’m not feeling so hot you know we’ll have to see tomorrow so then friday came and i had missed my daughter’s basketball game thursday night because i didn’t feel well and then she had one friday and i felt like i was supposed to be there now i did feel better friday i felt like it was more complicated and sounded more like a lie if i said hey i do feel better but i realize my daughter has a basketball game that i didn’t know about and i can’t make it i felt like it was less lie sounding if i just stuck with not feeling well and i didn’t want him to think i was lying to him which is sad because i think he trusts me but i was like this just sounds like too much to explain through text to say that i i do feel a little better but so like if my daughter didn’t have a basketball game i would have went and hung out it was really my daughter’s basketball game to help me out right i felt good enough that i would have hung out friday night but i just went with i’m still not feeling good it’s not going so yeah sorry jack that’s not the truth that’s weird though i felt like the truth sounded more like a lie and i was worried about it if you really overthink that one yeah i probably did daddy excuses always win so you just say gotta hang out with my daughter nobody can argue with that no but yeah it just it didn’t after i like if i had never said i felt sick i could have said that well you know what it’s a lot about practice too why speech is a lot about practice and being compassionate with yourself so i would say don’t beat yourself up too much about this but maybe try better next time yeah okay they’re lying

until it makes sense again so um in our uh in our addiction too we caused uh harm like we said some mean [ _ ] who’s who here said mean [ _ ] to their partner well you didn’t you didn’t have a wife when you were in active addiction man i was drunk with a husband i said some mean [ __ ] i can’t believe he’s down right

you don’t say mean [ _ ] to your husband now let’s call him up i don’t think so i i try not to harm him or you know what do you consider me and [ _ ] well when i was drunk i’m not even it’s too embarrassing i’m not going to tell you that stuff but yeah i don’t even have to ask that honestly i know i say mean [ _ ] now i don’t have to really confirm we really do talk nicely to each other i’m not saying we don’t get mad every once in a while where the honesty piece comes into problem sometimes the honesty can be mean yeah yeah i just i don’t know i just i don’t want to live that way like yeah my my dad and stepmom used to always argue and it was so uncomfortable to go over there i just don’t want to live that way yeah me and my wife don’t argue a lot i mean it’s really pretty rare i’m a walk-awayer i’m not an argument on when you catch me well especially now recovery like i have the like the language of the practice to be like hey you know what i’m getting a little worked up can we just take five and i’ll i’ll do that you know but things are pretty chummy okay i hope so we we said being [ _ ] to our partners yeah so yeah and other people i mean like other people like i did awful [ _ ] in the bar like you know and i we would you know pull pranks and lie and you know we’re just [ _ ] bullies you know it was terrible oh yeah so not in the bar but on the street corner there’s definitely a lot of line and manipulating and yeah

once you’re in that game i’m just you know you also become a victim of it i mean and that’s the karma part once you you know if you’re gonna live that life it will come back to you you know the same way you treat people as how you get treated anyway um something else to consider with why speech is how you talk to others is a practice and how you talk to yourself so your inner voice how you talk to yourself is how you talk to other people you know and how you talk to other people is probably how you talk to yourself so when i’m being a [ __ ] to other people chances are my inner language is also pretty shitty follow me yeah i’m not sure if you’re saying it works in a specific order but i definitely use that as a tool in therapy when people talk about like being judgmental of others that’s like oh well let’s look at that because that’s exactly how you’re judging you too yeah right yes yeah so i i yeah they’re definitely related yeah um you know as a practice now in another episode we talked about the inner critic sharon my inner critic who was not so you know we had to get i had to get like a better language in my head and um it’s you know it started with like it was back and forth i wouldn’t say there was an order but the kinder i spoke to myself when i caught myself speaking unkindly to me i you know i would correct that and then i found myself being more patient and considered with other people my life was frustrating and it was back and forth and you know it kept elevating and now it’s pretty good so all the angry people we see in facebook comments really just hate themselves probably yeah yeah they’re probably pretty unhappy that’s what i think yeah oh yeah absolutely i mean that’s how bullies are they’re probably bullied at home so you know they have a shitty life at home so they project it out to kids co-workers you know people to bus stop whatever i think that’s a good way to get people to feel compassionate for bullies but i don’t know that i think that’s true i don’t think that every bully has a terrible life and that’s why they’re mean to other people oh but i do though i do believe that yeah

sometimes it’s bad like i feel bad for the worst people well we should i don’t think that we shouldn’t but i’m just saying i i think what that is a rationalization to help us feel compassionate towards him like he can still like if someone’s hurting other people they’re probably still angry or hurt for some reason but it may not be the severe abuse that they’re suffering at home it could have just been they didn’t get the xbox they wanted so they’re gonna go to school and punch some kid smaller than them it’s weird we’re in different places with that like you don’t believe it’s true you believe it’s true and treat them with compassion and i believe it’s true but i like want to hit him with the [ _ ] compassion stick like a really hard compassion stick like i will pull you into [ _ ] being nicer like the zen people do well i guess where i’m coming from is does it really matter like i should be compassionate towards those people no matter what the reason is i don’t need to make a story up for why i think they’re the way they are that doesn’t really matter what matters is how am i treating them and you know i can still be compassionate towards them despite whatever narrative i tell myself in my head of why they’re doing what they’re doing yeah i don’t know that’s a waste of thought i mean i i don’t know if you’ve all seen all the marvel movies or whatever that’s my world but like when you think of a guy like thanos as the villain who wants to wipe out half of the universe because there’s not enough resources for everybody and it’s gonna get bad like understanding his backstory is what makes you feel like oh i i do kind of get that if he was just a guy who was like no i just want to kill half the [ _ ] people because [ _ ] him right like i don’t feel any attachment to him now now he’s just a piece of [ _ ] so i don’t know i don’t know that i can have compassion without understanding that there’s something that happened that kind of created this person in the way they are but if you don’t ask them you don’t know you’re just making up a story well i don’t necessarily make up a story about any great tragedy or anything i just to me uh it’s like a flower that you plant in your you know house like even though 10 years later you know it’s blooming it’s beautiful it’s green whatever i don’t know that someone watered it and nurtured it and put it in sunlight but i do know that something happened to get it to be a beautiful you know thriving plant ten years later like i don’t have to necessarily make up the specific story but i i know things don’t just happen right like i do know there is a story there’s something that led them there it doesn’t necessarily matter what but something led them to be this person like it didn’t just they weren’t they didn’t come out of the womb like smacking their mother like [ _ ] give me that [ _ ] milk like i don’t think that happens like that i think there’s always a story i think people are too varied to say that that’s true i think there are some people that are just bad not most but some are i don’t know and i guess my point is i don’t think it matters like i still can be compassionate towards people despite why they do what they do why would i be compassionate to a bad person i don’t think people are just bad i don’t know this is my night maybe it’s my name like i just i think everybody’s good well something you know what i mean like everyone’s not everything like they’re there are people that are born with whatever mental health defects or whatever that they just don’t have certain sociopaths and psychopaths and all those those are things that exist that are independent of surroundings that’s their story though that’s what happened to them born with mental health issues or brains that don’t operate right like there’s some story is what i’m getting at there’s something that they didn’t i mean i guess in that sense they did just come out that way but that’s still their story nature to me yeah i think i said that makes bad things sometimes yeah my bad i think i said it the wrong so sociopaths come from poor nurturing not nature they’re not born sociopaths it comes from how they were brought up i said that backwards there’s no official no no okay i thought i’m not saying i just been working on this area of my life so and it’s in my meditation and stuff like that like i run through life telling myself a lot of stories about why a lot of things are and why this is that way and and like for me that’s not really the the point of how i want to live i want to live just being open to the situation that’s in front of me and just reacting in the best self that i am not trying to make up stories and excuses for why these people do that or why i do this or you know it’s like that underlying narrative telling myself all these stories in my head is a like that’s caught up in my own self-centeredness so i’m trying to get away from that i mean i think as humans we are storytelling meaning making people that’s what our brains do and usually it is after the fact of something happening and so it kind of doesn’t really help changing it or our understanding of it so i agree necessarily not to put too much stock in the exact story but i think for me i have to believe that there is a story that a person ended up not being the kindest gentlest nicest airing on the side of humanity person like if i just believe that oh you know it’s possible they woke up one day and we’re like ah [ _ ] people i hate them like i can’t like that person anymore i can’t have compassion for them if that’s just a true decision if i believe that and that there’s no story yeah i don’t know yeah impossible really like yeah i’m really thinking about where you’re coming from billy and for me at this point i probably could meditate on it more but like it that would be too bypassy like just to be like okay everybody’s fine for some reason there’s something about me i do have to put some kind of story behind it you know even if i don’t know the story i can be like well i can imagine it might be this and that’s why they got there well if i really i’m sorry i don’t think that’s okay so if i related it back to addiction let’s say you know addiction same i think a lot of people say a similar thing like nobody’s just an addict for no reason it’s usually some trauma or something that’s born out of somewhere and that i mean i don’t know that i would disagree with that but that trauma can be in some cases what i would consider so minor they were slighted by a parent or treated a little differently than another sibling and it’s like that’s [ _ ] not really trauma but to that person it was traumatic you know and so for me the reason why people are addicts is not as important as what they are and what i can do for them now i guess just treating them with respect that’s right bottom line just going to treat you with respect don’t care about the story right well then if you if you hear gabber mate talk like his point is to change the question from why are you like this to what happened to you and your story that this is what’s going on now right and not that part of that can’t be the genetics you were born with but it’s more moving away from the shame based question of why are you like this right because people like if i’m feeling really depressed and i can’t get out of it and i can’t do these things i want to do in my life saying why am i like this is a shame based question it’s like what the [ _ ] is wrong with me whereas what happened to me that i’ve gotten here that’s more of a curiosity and an exploration question where we can move into like starting to have compassion for ourselves and i guess that’s where i’m coming from it’s like i need to believe that there’s some story even if that’s genetics even if that’s you were born this way and you can’t help it like there’s some story that makes you today make sense and makes it not your fault that’s my goal i don’t want it if it’s somebody’s fault then i [ __ ] hate them gotcha yeah you’re gonna make that shitty person because it’s your fault then that we got issues but i don’t believe that that exists personally hmm

i just i guess i do i believe that exists but it and i guess for me it doesn’t like i shouldn’t change the way i treat that person because i believe that exists you know what i mean like for me i and i’m not saying i do don’t get me wrong i’m not perfect by any means but my general philosophy is that i should treat that person the same no matter what i mean because even if if okay if i know someone’s a drug addict and they suffered all this trauma and abuse and neglect and everything else doesn’t necessarily mean i’m inviting them into my house to sleep on my couch because they’ll still steal all my [ __ ] like you know what i mean like i don’t know that’s getting way off

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back to speaking wisely thoughtfully my speech now it was a good side track back to speech important too is observe how you are speaking and the reaction to it so when you speak i’ll give you some guidelines a little bit when you when you speak when you speak honestly when you are speaking helpful and beneficial with kindness um when you’re considering your audience so that you’re clear um and the timing is good you know you’ll observe a good reaction to that you’ll res you’ll you’ll see that it was good for you good for your audience your listener or whatever but when you don’t follow those guidelines from the buddha you’ll observe that it’s bad so it’s you get that instant reward and i know a lot of people are like god do we have to do this every single time and um well kind of yeah you know until you get you get practice you know like slow down pay attention on what you’re doing and then observe when you when you do things right you get a good reaction when you do things poorly not so much but always be kind to yourself and just try to do better next time and that’s the practice of why speech what’s a good reaction like from the people you’re talking to yeah i mean like so if it was was it beneficial to them did you guys move forward are you still feeling at peace and you know like not negative i guess so how can you always be honest and still like i feel like people’s reactions to honesty aren’t necessarily positive all the time like that can hurt that’s tricky yeah yeah it’s tricky um i wish i had an example off top of my head but like yeah so it’s like your wife is like how do i look you know whatever it’s like maybe not your favorite dress or something you know how would you do that positively could be like you know i like the purple one better i don’t know you know like if you just you know baby you always look beautiful you know something like that you know well i don’t know well part of it i think comes back to uh i’m gonna use listening but it’s not even maybe listening as much as like observing how the people like paying attention to how the people are receiving what you’re saying or how they’re reacting to what you’re saying i think matters in that context because like jason and i can disagree on stuff and we’ll sit here and talk and we’ll kind of go back and forth but i don’t ever particularly feel insulted and i don’t think he does but i can have some of those same conversations with my wife and she very much gets really pissed at me she feels like i’m being angry and argumentative and you know what i mean so uh i feel like paying attention to how the person i’m talking to is reacting to what i’m saying is important totally and the timing too so what if you get home and you want to talk to jen about the same things we talked about today but she’s got other things on her mind work kids whatever and you’re trying to explain to her about this wise speech discussion and you know if she’s not in the time and space for it yeah it’s going to come out all wrong she’s not going to hear the message so you have to consider all those things right yeah i’m like on the other end of this i think i i not that i think being in tune with the people around you and that you’re talking to isn’t useful at times but i don’t want to base whether i’m succeeding at wise speech or or my intentions by other people’s reactions because i feel like people’s this is kind of goes back to the idea that i used to believe that there was this one right way i could act and live that no one around me would be offended or hurt by and i don’t believe that to be true anymore like i can do all the right things in my life and somebody is still not happy with them like that’s just reality like when i’m doing the right thing for my wife it might be a kid that’s not happy or when i’m doing the right thing as a parent my kid’s definitely not happy and when i’m doing the right thing for me my wife’s not always happy like somebody’s always upset by my right thing and so that’s i don’t want to judge my rightness or what i’m doing or how well i’m doing it by other people’s reactions at all yeah and this is maybe slightly different than some of that but like i had a situation at work on i think it was friday with one of the guys that i work with is uh very i don’t know which denomination but definitely old school christian like you know hardcore and he was talking about he lives over in new jersey and was talking about you know the crime rate over there and stealing people’s cars and he’s saying stuff like you know we need to go back to the days when if people stole things we just cut their hands off and things like that and i’m like and i want to go that’s [ _ ] ridiculous like that is not a way that people live nowadays like we’ve learned that one that doesn’t really fix the problems anyway it never did punishment doesn’t fix problems and secondly like who wants it is that a fair punishment for somebody feeling something to cut their hand off like but the the point is like i start to get riled up and i start to want to say something and then i like to think my unintentional wise speech brain kicks in and says is anything i’m gonna say gonna make any difference to this person and is he do i really feel it necessary to try to change his beliefs or get into some what i’m going to consider and this is probably judgey to say but a waste of my [ _ ] energy and thought to get into some philosophical debate with someone that i think is completely irrational you know so i just refrained and said well if you really want to deal with a lot of these problems if you address poverty you would see that a lot of these problems would reduce on their own and then i just left it at that who’s uh whose taxes pay for all these handles people that can’t work anymore no they can’t yeah i mean it just it was ridiculous comments and you know it’s like do i re is that is it going to be worth my energy to start engaging in that round of conversation that is why you know i think you handled it wisely but if you really thought this man was gonna go start chopping off hands and you didn’t say something then that would be not my speech like if you really thought he was gonna go literally chop off people’s hands you it is important for you to say something but you know this guy’s just kind of blowing off steam and uh trying to make something colorful or whatever draw attention to himself right so i’m just trying to picture if we could learn to steal with our feet is that what happened we’d evolve to have like feet thiefs i’ve seen those people type on keyboards and [ __ ] with their feet yeah maybe they’ll be crypto thiefs

so moving on with wise speech um it’s important to refrain from false speech divisive speech do you know what divisive means i do but why don’t you tell us more about it okay because that is a weird word but they always say in buddhism i had to like kind of get some clarity on that but divisive is dividing so to me i always picture like the politician who’s like uh what in their speech is like putting down a certain section of society or you know that’s how i think of divisive speech mentality yeah yeah anything that separates the buddha was not down with um harsh speech and idol chatter let’s talk about idol chatter so idol chatter is like gossip small talk that kind of stuff but listen

but there is a difference between small talk and connection talk so like say you’re in uh you’re in a workspace with somebody and um you might indulge in quote unquote idol chatter because you need to connect with this person if you’re gonna work together um it’d be nice to know a little bit about them or be like hey you see that sports game you know or whatever so have some shitty bengals winning yesterday i was upset about that too anyway good job connecting you too and uh so um i have a gossip story to tell you um so when i first started down the buddhist path so i have i have um these three really good girlfriends and we get together as often as we can which isn’t very often these days but like coffee or whatever and our old practice used to be we would gossip a lot like it just that’s how us moms were you know and uh when i started i worked do that too so not just moms yeah so when i started exploring buddhist recovery and they’re excited for me they they’re great cheerleaders for my recovery and um i said hey one of the rules is um why speech which includes gossip so you know we gossip a lot i’m gonna have to cut that out and the girls were like yeah i think i think we should just let that go and they were all like in agreement like yeah and now our conversations have so much more depth like because we’ve removed that like if we catch ourselves gossiping we’re like ah you know what maybe we shouldn’t talk about that now our conversations honestly have filled in with much more meaningful stuff like when we took gossip out we just we have better conversations um that’s not how i saw that going yeah i thought you were gonna say they stopped coming over right no no like um they said they were that was a good idea and then they went and gossiped about that right their own group talking about yeah they were in like chat group that i’m not part of can you believe that jenny doesn’t want to gossip anymore the [ _ ] is wrong with her so and again not for the specific purpose of why speech but i’ve noticed that about myself like i and we talked about some of this on the podcast at one time too is like at work when i’m talking to other like talking to other supervisors about other employees and how to do that in a way that’s beneficial versus a way that’s just gossiping about oh so and so did this or this person did that or what a pain in the ass you know and i try to stop because it makes me feel like i don’t like that part about myself there’s a underlying like that’s not the way that i want to be i don’t want people to talk that way about me when i’m not around so why am i talking about them when i’m around you know yeah definitely like when people gossip if if i’m part-taking and i hear gossip and i i know that when i’m not there then it’s me like you know that’s just how they are so yeah but so i they usually choose friends that don’t do that you know what’s a real hardship route uh this one this is a challenge though um skipping ahead so i’ve you know uh i have neighbors who engage in racist speech and yeah that’s hard it’s hard you know if it’s really blatant like somebody called uh obama the n-word and i was like yo we can’t do that you know but even if it’s like that that low-key like um they’ll mention somebody was black like it has nothing to do with the conversation but they’ll like slide then and i’m like how is that important to the story like what are you trying to convey here but i don’t say anything i’m just like ugh i hate where this is going you know or um this is usually like with my neighbors and so people i want to like keep the peace with don’t want to like like ruffle feathers so this is something i really have to work on is like when do i speak up how do i speak up compassionately i usually just end up being silent which is also kind of a like a crime you know like i i should say something but this is like i want to do better with this like i want to speak up more when there’s like racist speech but i just don’t know how yet working on it yeah it’s hard sometimes i mean especially when you can feel in your environment outnumbered um and it’s like how do i speak up without attacking or or you know alienating myself at the same time because to alienate me doesn’t necessarily help right like if i just make myself on the outside of the group now i’m just another person they don’t like and the group doesn’t really change or shift and really i think the goal is to help awaken people you know and you can’t do that if you’re the outsider as well right usually i do the old like oh look at the time i gotta go you know like kind of thing i just kind of excuse myself if things get like politics can get kind of heated or if i just feel like the conversation’s going like kind of a racist way i’m just like gotta go well i’ve learned and this is maybe more of a tactical thing is a lot of the typically a lot of what people are bringing up is quote unquote racist problems we have those same exact problems here in cecil county in predominantly white neighborhoods you know what i mean like we have winding brook and lakeside and you know these other what i’m going to call the bad areas of town and it’s all white people doing the same exact [ _ ] as is happening in any you know these other neighborhoods that may be more colorful and i just try to bring that in some way into the conversation like oh yeah well i live in cecil county and we have that exact same problem and we don’t we’re like what 10 you know minority in this community like it’s we’re predominantly white people you can go into some of these neighborhoods and see the exact same thing so i don’t think race is a the big driver there and that’s usually how i’ll slip that stuff into conversations you’re quick you think of things quick i don’t always have like the data yeah yeah because i felt the same way like i always feel uncomfortable with that you know it’s it’s an uncomfortable place to be and this is a racist area it’s it’s getting better yeah it’s just a hot conversation nationwide like it’s a hot topic nationwide and i just you know just trying to do better you know like if i can if i’m going to do anything i want to do it right you know so uh something else i’m just kind of jumping all around i want to make sure i include everything using speech to ask for help too so like someone in addiction you know if they were using my speech like we we hid our addictions we didn’t ask for help we didn’t tell people we were suffering but if we were using my speech if we were practicing that we could have been like oh my god i’m hurting oh my god i’m addicted oh my god i can’t stop like we’re not using that and if we’re not being honest with ourselves that makes it even harder you know so this is why why speech is important to recovery what do you guys think about sarcasm i love it sarcasm is terrible

he says sorry my communication is sarcasm i used to be a lot more sarcastic till i came to recovery i’ve chilled out a lot um some of it was so mean i don’t want to be mean anymore i don’t is my sarcasm mean give us examples of mean sarcasm oh i don’t know i guess like this i’m out of practice man but like you know the subtle put down i guess i use that a lot with my kids yeah at home like my wife nice job there yeah my wife has been a huge pusher of no sarcasm like mean what you say and say what you mean like this you know no sarcasm with each other in the house which is hard because i’m same i’m sarcastic a lot and she’ll she’ll bring it up so it’s gotten better it’s still prevalent at most other areas of my life but not at home as much i can imagine your workplace being kind of oh all the guys yeah yeah i’m picturing like my kids making a sandwich and like botching the job all up and me being like why don’t you spread the bread on the jelly it’s doing great there son like maybe now it’s a good time to observe the reaction to that observe how you feel how they feel they usually laugh because it’s like a it’s it’s not crying on the inside they might be they might be but it’s just i don’t know if it’s sarcasm or like this this tendency to find joy and humor in the absurd right like there’s that like i’ll say a statement that’s like so out there and i obviously we both know that’s not what they were trying to do but like it just you know it seems so ludicrous that it’s like entertaining for us and there is funny sarcasm and then more sort of mean like you said like the put downs and stuff can be going back to my wise intention it’s it’s a way for me to connect okay i think i hope it’s not possible for them like but i i feel like it’s a way for us to share in a moment of like huh you know yeah you didn’t do it well it’s not a big deal but let’s make a joke about it so that might not even be sarcasm it’s like a little connection dad son jab you know maybe when i get with old friends like from new jersey i slip right into an old sarcastic like way of speaking and i kind of have to i get home and i see myself using it with my husband i’m like whoa whoa shake it off like i just picture that that movie uh a league of their own and john lovitz is on like the platform with the they’re about to go off to you know join the club and he’s like see the way it works is the train moves not the station and that’s that’s what i picture in my sarcasm every time because the girl like didn’t look confused about getting on the train or whatever and he was saying the train moves not the station and like that’s the kind of thing i do with my kids i think that’s funny that’s a good one well i know it’s sarcasm is definite like the main form of communication with a lot of the guys in my life definitely in my recovery circle it’s very sarcastic and jokey and sort of put down-ish and what’s weird is i try not to do that a lot like there are opportunities i take my jabs and make my jokes but it’s definitely something i’m like oh this doesn’t always feel good yeah that’s the observed parts and then there’s always the debate about white lies like what if you’re white lying oh we decided that was fine you missed it okay yeah we’re good with it all right well the buddha would say rigid honesty um and but when it comes to white lies if it’s like just do the lesser of two evils like if um telling your wife she didn’t look nice you know i’m like how do i look you’re like oh you know like the lesser if you tell her yeah you look great babe it’s because otherwise you’re gonna make her feel terrible you know like if you so your cheeto binge is showing

um so um you know pick the less if you can’t tell the truth at least pick the lesser of the two that will cause harm so that’s probably where we came with the white lies that’s kind of was the idea behind why we thought uh maybe it’s not maybe rigid odyssey isn’t the way because if it’s going to be more hurtful and less helpful in that moment to tell someone like a hard truth i think the example they used was someone like going on stage for a speech and do you want to tell them right before they walk out there like that’s a terrible speech like you don’t want to do that because then it just kills their confidence and then they’re going to walk out there and really bomb so you just say oh it’s great go get them you’re going to be awesome yeah right so um that’s kind of my wrap up i don’t know if you guys have any questions just so just set your intention practice the best you can and observe how it goes and see if you can do even better next time questions interestingly like i pictured before you taught us about my speech that like the idea would have been more in line with what we came up with in our honesty conversation like this we came up with the idea that this we didn’t come up with it but we were reading about this idea that honesty is a virtue and virtues according to you know old greek philosophers aren’t necessarily supposed to be one end of the other of the spectrum it’s not like always lie or always be honest virtues are supposed to have a balance between two points and like going through the question list we did on our quiz on our honesty episode it was a lot about this idea of like no i should probably not be honest with my wife when she asked if she looks fat lately i should probably not you know tell my new mother-in-law that the sweater she just got me as a gift is hideous i should probably not tell people their speech sucks when they don’t have time to change it like and i think there was a lot of concepts in there that led me to believe that that was probably why speech like let me really think through my intentions here is what i’m saying going to be useful or helpful to this person and let me really you know this idea of thoughtful speech like what is going to what result am i going to produce where i feel like you introduced it and it kind of follows that concept but it also you know the buddha’s idea of like honesty at all times sort of i don’t know it doesn’t doesn’t sit as well with me as i think just thoughtful speech does in general well if the goal is enlightenment rigid honesty is necessary but he also talked about the middle way you know like you know finding that middle path like that virtue scale you were just talking about yeah that’s kind of what we thought of when we were doing it we were like oh this is very buddhist he’s very middle path but if he was like always be honest i don’t know maybe people didn’t ask him hard questions yeah well do they say anything in there about like or is there any conversation around confrontational speech i mean because you’re gonna have situations where you have a strong viewpoint that is worthwhile say you know say it is a conversation with someone that matters about access to treatment or whatever around recovery and you’re passionate about that and it’s something that you want to advocate for you know how do you and you’re going to meet controversial opinions on that is there any of those things this that the guidance i think is the same like you want to do it you know it sounds like timing’s important you want to be honest and kind and respectful and do it to the best benefit of all parties involved so i think the guidance is still it’s just trickier it’s just a lot trickier well i think it is important for me too to try to look at my intentions and things a lot at the base like what is my intention here do i think i want to change this person’s mind do i think i’m going to make them think the way i want them to think you know if that’s my intention that’s probably not so great because then i’m going to get argumentative and defensive and it’s going to turn into a battle versus maybe i’m just going to try to open their mind a little bit and give them some information to think about and and maybe look at this a little differently like that is a more helpful way of approaching those conversations for me yeah any other examples of unwise speech lately no none i can think of i i think for me i mean i i love the idea of why speech i i don’t know that 12 step necessarily has an equivalent i feel like we just go in we’re like honesty that’s that’s the speech honest speech um honest open and willing and i guess my take on this which uh buddha would agree with because he says everybody should find their own path and not just blindly believe in his uh right isn’t that what his thing is everybody should get their arms onto yourself yeah so my take on why speech is that i need to put more more thought into the intention ahead of time like what is the goal because i don’t necessarily and i don’t think most people do i think we just we just talk like we’re just programmed where these computers we spit out these statements when things come up and that’s what happens right people give us a one we give them back a zero and and that’s just a programming thing we have and i think slowing down thinking about what are my actual goal with what i’m saying am i trying to make them feel bad am i trying to make them feel like they have room for improvement am i trying to like subtly you know suggest a different behavior for them to that might work better for them in their life like what is the actual goal and then knowing that i think i can speak from a wiser place so yeah i think the the wise intention idea is cool and and my wise speech version is not necessarily based around it’s not based around dishonesty it’s not like i’m trying to lie but it’s more like how do i get where i’m going in the most compassionate and kind way possible and maybe that’s the thing with with 12 step fellowships why we don’t see or why after a period of time people drift away or maybe find other avenues of spiritual growth so a lot of us me included come into recovery with no understanding of you know honesty like we think we know what it is but we’re not living honestly we’re not doing it so we learn about that like in basic steps so you can’t try to describe to someone who’s never been living honesty all the subtleties you know of when it’s okay to be honest and when it’s not you just be like look just just be honest okay just be honest if you can do that for a little while the subtleties will come like in some time with some practice we’ll figure out where that doesn’t work yeah and so we come into recovery and we learn these basic foundational principles or virtues you know maybe is a better way to think of it and as we develop we might have to look at some other avenues of spiritual growth or virtue growth because we can’t rely on just those basic principles anymore you know i took such offense to it when my my therapist ages ago told me that like the the the basic 12-step groups the nas the aas she’s like yeah they’re like elementary school and i was like [ _ ] you right it’s everything because i was driving right and you know i gotta say and this isn’t like a put down i’m not trying to make anybody feel like they’re less than or any of that but it it does from my outside exploration seem a lot like that like kind of like you just laid out like they give us these basic general concepts and then you know maybe if you move into some of these other 12-step fellowships they get a little more refined in those ideas maybe that’s middle or high school and then you know there’s another world outside of that of like internal growth that you can seek through other spiritual paths or therapy or you know some other way that is like the graduate school of well see and i agree with you 100 percent my uh bang on the table thing with that is yeah but if people would stick around we could bring some of that into the people that have been around like if everybody who wants to get further spiritual growth goes somewhere else then we never evolve past elementary school like that’s all we ever are as elementary school because every time people get along the way they’re like i’m going somewhere else but i i think that’s actually not how it would work and i think it’s actually because of the detriment of the new people right like billy madison putting an adult into well and you know yeah it would be this idea of like kind of like aa’s pamphlet says you know don’t talk about other things besides alcohol in here or the alcoholic might not get it when he walks in the door like if we were talking in our meetings and our fellowship about all these you know more refined concepts the guy who just wants to stop shooting heroin is going to be like this isn’t the place for me i don’t even know what the [ _ ] they’re talking about anymore that’s where the y speech comes in see i’m going to know when it’s the new guy that conversation is a different conversation that i’m going to have with the guy at 10 years they’re going to have with the guy at 20 years you know those are different conversations but like you know like i mean if they’re working like their graduate school program they don’t have time to go back to volunteer at the elementary school yeah yeah i don’t i don’t see it working honestly because i mean if i go in and share if they’re like hey come share your experience strength and hope i’m going to talk about what’s going on for me now and there’s not a i’m not going to say there’s not there’s very few meetings that don’t have a new person there like so i’m just never going to be at the same place they’re at oh that’s true i mean but but what i think of is there were times in meetings where i heard people say things and it was like yeah whatever and now that i’ve been there for a while i’m like oh i see what they were talking about you know like from staying around now those things make more sense maybe i don’t know i just i but i understand watching it yeah and i but i just i understand why people sort of end up venturing to other places or going other avenues because it’s it is hard i mean most of what you’re going to hear is well and there’s a reason that people going for their doctorate don’t go sit in a third grade class and we don’t have second graders in doctor school with them like there’s a separation for a purpose like they’re just in two different places they wouldn’t benefit from being in the same place i don’t think

that’s a never mind i won’t even go down that route that’s why our educational system’s [ __ ] because we don’t have smart people teaching the dumb people what they need to know we have somebody who doesn’t know anything teaching somebody else who doesn’t know anything but maybe i’ll join in that conversation isn’t there anything about your what you know you learn teaching or something like some concept of that you learn it better by teaching then anyway that’s a whole that’s why my kids go to hippie school

all right so take your wise speech uh take your wise intentions go out there and and think about what you’re saying stop just responding immediately to everyone you know that reactionary response that we have based in you know our nervous system we’ve talked about that a little bit or our feelings or you know let’s actually think through this to the the heart of the matter and come from there have a good week bye

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