What’s Worth Saying?

What filter, if any, might we wish to place between the phantasmagoric smorgasbord within our cranial vault and each sound that pops out of our mouth?

Steve Roberts color photo:cool 12 year old boy in shades pondering
Arresting, emotionally powerful, meaningful, memorable––those four terms may define effective communication, but they don’t mean much until we’ve decided that the idea in our noggin is actually worth banging our gums on.  So how do we do that?  What filter, if any, might we wish to place between the phantasmagoric smorgasbord within our cranial vault and each sound that pops out of our mouth?

The late Eknath Easwaran (1910-1999) is among the spiritual guides for whom I have a special fondness.  When it comes to what passes our lips, he has some wise advice based on the Arab proverb: The words of the tongue should have three gatekeepers.

The first gatekeeper asks: “Is this true?” 

If we get by that hurdle, gatekeeper number two asks: “Is it kind?”

And when we’ve determined that what we want to say is both true and kind, the third gatekeeper asks: “Is it necessary?”

Those gatekeepers, to me, are cheerleaders of love.  Their questions help us create both silence and sound from the exact same place––the place in every heart where we hold reverence for ourselves and others.

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