Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Three Gates

The old Sufi taught that right speech had to pass through three gates.  The first gate asked, “Is it true”?  The second gate asked, “Is it necessary”?  The third gate asked, “Is it kind”?  The old sheik taught him that it would be better to be silent than to utter words that had not passed through the three gates.
For those that do not know, Sufism is the mystical side of Islam.  This teaching is very similar to the kind of teachings also uttered by the Desert Fathers and Mothers of the early Christian era.  I tend to think that many basic teachings such as this one can be found in all the major religions.  This is a great teaching regardless of what religion or philosophy you follow.  Who among us couldn’t do a better job of guarding one’s speech.  I try to avoid complaining, gossip, and any kind of hurtful speech.  I am human, however, so there are times I do all of these things.  I strive to minimize complaining by focusing on gratitude.  Workplace gossip is an easy trap to fall into.  I think the best way to minimize workplace gossip is for leadership to be as transparent as possible and for everyone to always tell the truth.  I am doing better with minimizing hurtful speech because age and the awareness of my own weaknesses has taught me to be more patient and tolerant of others.  Even though I don’t always remain silent, I also believe it is better to be silent than to speak a lot.  I can't remember who said it but I did read once that “one should not speak unless your words improve the silence”.     

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