2011 was my year of Right Intention, the second of the Noble Eightfold Path. Right Intention was a tough one: mostly residing within my head. i set myself to commit to abstaining from attachments, preventing ill-will, and stopping harm. i found myself indulging attachments often, and often caught feelings of ill-will even when i did not act on them. in these moments, i reminded myself the connection between Right Intention and Right View--remembering that the intention of ethical conduct can only be built upon seeing what is actually happening in the world, rather than skewing my view to my attachments or fears.
as with Right View, i feel as though i could spend a lifetime devoted only to Right Intention. however, since i have set myself to the task of covering the each of the Noble Eightfold Path, i must move on while also keeping in mind the power and necessity of Right Intention (and, with Right View, both elements of Wisdom) as i move on to Ethnical Conduct.
2012 is devoted to Right Speech. as i reiterate, the Noble Eightfold Path is not a sequence, it is one path with eight elements. however, i hope that through concentrating on one element per year, it will ease pursuing my ultimate goal of deeper mindfulness, true compassion, and working toward the liberation of all beings.
Right Speech is extremely important in the core beliefs of Buddhism. not only is it the first aspect of ethical conduct in the Noble Eightfold Path, it is one of the five precepts, along with abstention from taking life, abstention from stealing, abstention from sexual misconduct, and abstention from drunkenness or intoxication to the point of heedlessness. as with many spiritual traditions, Buddhism apparently puts much stock in the importance and power of speech.
in short, Right Speech comprises four main points: abstention from false speech or lying, abstention from divisive speech, abstention from harsh or abusive speech, and abstention from idle chatter. put positively, right speech means telling the truth, speaking toward concord, speaking pleasantly, and only speaking necessarily.
in more detail, the abhaya sutta states that according to Gotama:
In the case of words that [are] unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial (or: not connected with the goal), unendearing and disagreeable to others, do not say them.
In the case of words that [are] factual, true, unbeneficial, unendearing and disagreeable to others, do not say them.
In the case of words that [are] factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing and disagreeable to others, have a sense of the proper time for saying them.
In the case of words that [are] unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, but endearing and agreeable to others, do not say them.
In the case of words that [are] factual, true, unbeneficial, but endearing and agreeable to others, do not say them.In the case of words that [are] factual, true, beneficial, and endearing and agreeable to others, have a sense of the proper time for saying them.
in order for things to be said, they must be both true and beneficial. if they are disagreeable, they timeliness is of utmost importance. finally, even if something is true, if it is not beneficial, it need not be said.
if we desire to admonish others, we must then also consider the following:
 Do I speak at the right time, or not?
 Do I speak of facts, or not?
 Do I speak gently or harshly?
 Do I speak profitable words or not?
 Do I speak with a kindly heart, or inwardly malicious?
only upon considering these five can we admonish another.
i also interpret Right Speech as encompassing the written word as well, and it incorporates what many have termed as Right Listening--especially for the "timeliness" aspect of Right Speech.
as my community, i report this to you to ask for support and mutual respect in the continued search for the path forward. and if you find solace in the Noble Eightfold Path, that we can walk it together:
1. Right View (wisdom)
2. Right Intention (wisdom)
3. Right Speech (ethical conduct)
4. Right Action (ethical conduct)
5. Right Livelihood (ethical conduct)
6. Right Effort (mental development)
7. Right Mindfulness (mental development)
8. Right Concentration (mental development)
As with last year, I close with a quote about Right Speech from here.
Right speech is the first principle of ethical conduct in the eightfold path. Ethical conduct is viewed as a guideline to moral discipline, which supports the other principles of the path. This aspect is not self-sufficient, however, essential, because mental purification can only be achieved through the cultivation of ethical conduct. The importance of speech in the context of Buddhist ethics is obvious: words can break or save lives, make enemies or friends, start war or create peace. Buddha explained right speech as follows: 1. to abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully, 2. to abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others, 3. to abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others, and 4. to abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth. Positively phrased, this means to tell the truth, to speak friendly, warm, and gently and to talk only when necessary.
i look forward to working on this year of Right Speech.