If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say...

Valuable advice from the late Thai master Phra Ajaan Dune Atulo, known to his students as Luang Pu

Phra Ajaan Dune Atulo

Head of Buddha
In one of Luang Pu’s branch meditation monasteries there lived a group of five or six monks who wanted to be especially strict in their practice, so they made a vow not to talk throughout the Rains Retreat. In other words, no word would come out of their mouths except for the daily chanting and the bi-weekly Patimokkha chant. After the end of the Rains they came to pay their respects to Luang Pu and told him of their strict practice: In addition to their other duties, they were also able to stop speaking for the entire Rains.

Luang Pu smiled a bit and said:

“That’s pretty good. When there’s no speaking, then no faults are committed by way of speech. But when you say that you stopped speaking, that simply can’t be. Only the noble ones who enter the refined attainment of cessation, where feeling and perception stop, are able to stop speaking. Aside from them, everyone’s speaking all day and all night long. And especially those who vow not to speak: They talk more than anyone else, it’s simply that they don’t make a sound that others can hear.”

From Gifts He Left Behind, compiled by Phra Bodhinandamuni and translated by Thanissaro Bikkhu.

Image: Head of Buddha, Andhra Pradesh, India, 2nd Century, Limestone, Art Institute in Chicago, © Christopher Trott

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Dominic Gomez's picture

Scarecrow: "Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don't they?"
(from "The Wizard of Oz")

True Sangha Action's picture

When we must force ourselves to focus on not speaking or on practicing correctly, we are not practicing correctly.

bkalivas's picture

Yes. Aren't we talking when we do this? Good article.