As the saying goes, “The tongue wounds more than a lance”; a careless slip of the tongue can be the cause of misfortune. The Sutra of the Method of Contemplating the Bodhisattva Universal Sage, also called the Sutra of Repentance, explains that “the tongue produces the unwholesome karma of five kinds of evil speech,” and the Eightfold Path’s injunction of right speech cautions us that lying, being “double tongued,” or duplicitous, slandering others, and speaking frivolously can all become causes of self-inflicted woes.

But isn’t it habitual complaining that obstructs our practice most of all?

The thing about complaints is that once we start grumbling, the intensity of our discontent can double or even triple. What’s more, our carping about things also has a negative effect on the people around us. We spoil everything with just our own mouths alone. This is “bitter speech” by which we ourselves create suffering.

I know a person that is the exact opposite of this who finds satisfaction in everything, and always expresses this contentment in words. This person says that when you praise something unremarkable, such as your partner’s everyday cooking, by remarking, “It’s delicious, it’s delicious!” amazingly it really does become delicious.

Whether words of discontent or words of gratitude issue from the very same lips is the difference that utterly transforms human relationships as well as the environment.

Nikkyo Niwano

From Kaisozuikan 9 (Kosei Publishing Co.) pp.44-45

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