Right Speech

“Right Speech” is a part of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path.

Ancient Buddhist texts typically define it as a series of four or five abstentions. For example:

And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

Oren Jay Sofer breaks it down in a way I find particularly helpful — first in the traditional four types of speech to refrain from, followed by their parallel four types of speech to cultivate.

Abstain from:

  • False speech
  • Divisive speech
  • Malicious, harsh speech
  • Idle, useless speech

Cultivate speech that is:

  • Truthful
  • Helpful
  • Kind (gentle, good-will)
  • Timely (context-sensitive)