The Four Gates of Speech

One of the  offerings in John Friend’s Anusara Teacher Training Manual, is the “four gates of speech,” which I believe comes from Buddhist practice.  The four gates are:

1.  Is it truthful?

2.  Is it necessary to say?

3.  Is it the appropriate time?

4.  Is it a kind thing to say?

It is easy to see this application in terms of speaking with others, though not always easy to practice, especially in a group setting where the culture is to condemn and criticize.

A more subtle practice of the four gates is how we talk to and about ourselves.  I am someone who was raised to have a very strong internal judging voice.  Although with the steady practice of yoga affirmation, my tendency for self-judgment has eased, the propensity reasserts itself when I am stressed.  I have taken to asking myself, when I hear the judging voice, does it pass the four gates of speech?  I find it a challenging practice, but a necessary one.  When we honor ourselves (we can honor ourselves and our own light and still know there are ways we would benefit from expanding or shifting), we will more easily honor, recognize, and affirm the light in others.



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