Happy Thursday Big Rock Yoga CommUNITY! Although we have seen many grey and rainy days lately, I hope each of you have found a source of internal light from yourself and from those around you. There’s an ancient Sufi saying that I’ve been referencing and thinking about a lot this week. The saying is “Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates. At the first gate, ask yourself, ‘Is it true?’ At the second ask, ‘Is it necessary?’ At the third gate ask ‘Is it kind?” There is so much that I love and value about this saying, particularly the order in which the gates are presented: truth, necessity, and kindness. I would like to offer some thoughts about each gate.
Gate #1: Truth
Truth does not have a concrete existence. Truth is like a chameleon. If the chameleon is on a green tree it will be green in color. If the chameleon is next to an orange flower, it will be orange. Truth, in much the same way, is determined by context and environment. The important thing to notice is just as the chameleon becomes whatever color it is surrounded by, we must honor the truth of our environment both as it is and as it is not. So often, we create a story about our existence instead of truly acknowledging reality. By creating a story, I mean we don't see the true existence—we see/create a projected existence or reality. When we speak from a created truth, or created reality, we are not speaking to the true truth. Here’s an example from my own life where I failed to speak from truth. My partner and I had made plans to go out for a drive when we he got home from work. We often like to take drives at night just to get out of the house and spend time together. He texted me and told me that he would come home as soon as work was done. I was excited. Even though we were just going for a drive, I wanted to dress up pretty. So, I got ready and waited for him to get home. Truthfully, I was tired from the day, but I really wanted to spend quality time together. Without realizing it, I fell asleep on the couch waiting for him to get home. When he got home, instead of listing to the reason why he was late, I started attacking him with comments like, “You just don’t want to spend time together.” I was not speaking from truth. I was speaking from my created story that I had made up about him not caring when in reality, he had an important conversation with his boss that kept him delayed. Instead, I should have acknowledged that I was tired, and that he might be tired after work as well. I should have honored the existence of the situation, instead of creating a story against reality. Because I didn’t speak from truth, we both got upset and started attacking each other with our own created stories instead of acknowledging the situation as it was and as it was not. Speak from truth—speaking from anything else gets messy and exhausting.
Gate #2: Necessity
This gate is synonymous with using essential language. When we are essential with our language, we have an awareness and are conscious of the necessity of what we say. We are often so wasteful with our words. We say a lot of things that should not be said. We’ll call our friends and spend thirty minutes talking about a co-worker or a family member or whoever that we are in conflict with. While it is perfectly normal to share our stresses with others, we often push the envelope. Instead of acknowledging the source of our problem with a situation or another person, we’ll spend time being critical and passing judgements. We’ll say a lot of things that we don’t need to say, and never say what we should say. For example, if a person was the best candidate for a job, but a less qualified person was hired instead, this person has every right to express disagreement with the hiring decision. However, it would not be necessary to talk bad about the person who got hired. This gate goes beyond relationships with other people. We often fail to say what is necessary to ourselves. We’ll bury our voice beneath layers of unnecessary worry and thinking and negative self talk. Our unnecessary thoughts become unnecessary words that create unnecessary problems with ourself and with others. Say what is necessary. Be essential.
Gate #3: Kindness
As the saying goes, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Even though we often think of kind words as being uplifting, cheerful, and optimistic, I believe that kind words go beyond sunshine and cherries so to speak. I believe that speaking from kindness is speaking from a place of compassion and love. It may not seem kind to tell your friend that her addictive habits are hurting your friendship and that you are concerned about her, but if your words come from a place of compassion and love for your friend, then even this conversation can be kind. If we seek to speak from kindness, then we are likely to emphasize the good in others, in our environment, and in ourself. Kindness supports both truth and necessity. I believe that if we speak from kindness, we’ll create fewer lies and regret saying fewer unnecessary things.
I wish each of you a wonderful weekend and beginning of next week. Personally, I believe the truest, most necessary, and beautifully kind words we can speak are “I” and “Love” and “You.” Say “I love you” to someone you love. Say “I love you” to yourself.
All Good Things,