When I posted yesterday and said that I needed to reconsider certain words and reconsider my ways of thinking, I know that it troubled some folks. BIV was afraid that when we disagree with something someone in a position of spiritual authority has said, that if we don't speak our mind it can be harmful to our souls. To a certain extent, I agree with this. There has to be a free forum for us to explore the truth. If we feel we recognize untruth, we should speak to that. This is a vital process we all need to be involved in.
But there is another approach to thought and speech, which is highly valued in the East. I found these words of the great Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, which captured so well a concern which has become increasingly important to me:
Right Thinking. When we produce a thought, we have to ensure that the thought is a good thought, a right thought, because if it is, it will bring us physical and mental health, and it will help the world to heal itself. Our practice is to try to live in such a way that every day we produce only good thoughts, thoughts in the direction of right thinking. We have to train ourselves to do that. A bad thought can destroy the physical and moral health of ourselves and of the world. So we have to be careful to produce only good thoughts....
Right Speech. First, we have to understand that thinking is action. When we say something, that speech will have an effect on our body, on our mind, and on the world. Good speech will give us joy and health — physical and moral health — and it will change the world in the direction of goodness. We should produce right speech, which inspires understanding, joy, hope, brotherhood, and sisterhood. Your speech is the seed, it is the cause. And what it produces in you and in the world is the karmaphala, the karma-fruit. Action as cause and action as fruit.
This is not fundamentally different from the teaching of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon, who reminds us:
But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not. (Mosiah 4:30)
There is a time when right thought and right speech will mean speaking out against injustice, or speaking out in favor of love. We should always strive for these thoughts and words! But there will also be times when right thought and right speech means stilling oneself, holding back, listening. Ultimately, how do we know the difference? Through conscience, through the Light of Christ in us, rightly guided by the Spirit. If we don't follow this, as King Benjamin says, we will perish.