Using the Power of Words Wisely (MLK’s Birthday)
Sunday Lesson 1/16/11
Rev. Jan Chase
A couple who have been married for 20 years were going to sleep when the following conversation takes place...
She: "Honey, if I die before you, would you remarry?"
He: "That's a morbid question!"
She: "No, I really want to know."
He (pauses to think): "Yes, I suppose after a decent amount of time I might remarry."
She: "Would she live in our house?"
He: "Well, the mortgage is almost paid off ¬ would you really expect me to move?"
She: "Would she wear my mink coat?"
He: "You know I paid $3,500 for that coat ¬ would you really want me to sell it for a loss?"
She: "Well, would she drive my BMW?"
He: "No. Absolutely not. She doesn't know how to drive a stick shift!"
Our words have power. Indeed they have the power to get us into a lot of trouble and sometimes they do.
Words also have the power to lift up another, a group or a nation, as Martin Luther King, Jr. did.
From the 3rd Teaching of the Buddha's 8-Fold Path: Right Speech http://www.boloji.com/buddhism/00110.htm
"We are often judged by our words. Long after we leave this world, our words shall remain. Words can often be sharper than the blade of the sword, bringing harm to the spirit of a person which can cause wounds that are deeper and last longer than that of a dagger. Therefore, we must choose our words carefully. The Buddha realized 4 methods of speech that bring peace to our lives and the lives of those who surround us."
3. Right Speech from http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/eightfoldpath.html
Buddha explained right speech as follows:
1. to abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully,
2. to abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others,
3. to abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others, and
4. to abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth. Positively phrased, this means to tell the truth, to speak friendly, warm, and gently and to talk only when necessary.
Right Speech from http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/8foldpath.htm
3. Samma-Vaca — Perfected or whole Speech. Also called right speech. Clear, truthful, uplifting and non-harmful communication.
This reminds me of our Christian Bible:
• The Hebrew Testament Ninth Commandment: "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." (NRSV, Exodus 20:16) False testimony, lies, false rumors, gossip and innuendo can ruin reputations. We must not use deception for revenge or selfish gain.
• The New Testament: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." (Mat 7:12) The Golden Rule present in all religious traditions.
So we have to teach and learn the “How Not to Speak,” before we are ready to raise consciousness to be lead by spirit how to speak from a spiritual perspective.
words--The vehicles through which ideas make themselves manifest. Words that have in them the realization of perfect, everywhere-present, always-present divine life, and our oneness with this life, are dominant in the restoration of life and health.
When spiritual words abide in man's consciousness, the word or thought formed in intellectual and sense mind must give way to the higher principles of Being. The whole consciousness is then raised to a more spiritual plane. Affirmations of words or of Truth realized in consciousness bring the mind into just the right attitude to receive light, and power, and guidance from Spirit.
The following story is from an unknown author found online at Inspiration Peak.com.
The next time you are tempted to say something hurtful to someone just because you’re angry, you might want to stop and remember this story: There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.
The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”
The little boy then understood how powerful his words were. He looked up at his father and said “I hope you can forgive me father for the holes I put in you.”
“Of course I can,” said the father.
This week has been a full one for me. I attended 3 meetings with the Superintendent’s Faith Based Community Round Table Anti-Bullying Campaign. School systems around the country are working to stop the harmful practices and effects of hurtful words and actions by children towards other children. As an Interfaith Group, we have decided to raise consciousness at the schools around Bullying by creating a program. We will put on assemblies for every 3rd grader, give their teachers curriculum to prepare them for it, prepare aftercare guidance, hold an art contest, and other things.
This book came to our attention. Don’t Laugh at Me that has a song with these words. If you have a story of being bullied, if you want to help with this school program or a program we are working on for all the faith communities, please see me!
Martin Luther King reminds us “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love; we must meet physical force with soul force.” Stride Toward Freedom
Charles Fillmore, co-founder of the Unity Movement defines Word, creative (in The Revealing Word) as "The creative idea in Divine Mind, which may be expressed by man when he has fulfilled the law of expression. All words are formative, but not all words are creative. The creative Word lays hold of Spirit substance and power. As spirituality increases we fulfill the law. Our word has power and is creative."
Yesterday Julie and Jacqi and I attended the Interfaith MLK event in Irvine entitled: Living the Dream: Building the Beloved Community. One the front of the program was this MLK quote from his book Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community? Martin Luther King, Jr. “We have inherited a large house, a great “world house” in which we have to live together—black and white, Easterner and Westerner, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Moslem and Hindu—a family unduly separated in ideas, culture and interest, who, because we can never again live apart, must learn somehow to live with each other in peace.”
There were Buddhists, Christians, Unity leaders, Hindus, Muslims (our friend Ahmed Soboh sas there) academics, a whole bunch of Pacific Islanders, and many more in COR Christ Our Redeemer African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Because the turn-out was not as large as we expected, we put 4 groups together and heard Dr. Ahmed Soboh speak about Muslims being targets of hate now. An African American woman seemed to totally empathize with him and with Muslims, seeing them going through the discrimination that blacks endured before.
A professor and community activist, Dr. Helene Slessarev-Jamir from Claremont School of Theology, spoke about the influence that MLK’s words have had on cultures around the world. King went to India after Gandhi’s death. But many of King’s teachers, including Howard Thurman, had been to India and learned from Gandhi. Then stories unfolded about how the nonviolent work of MLK has and continues to influence religions and cultures around the world. One of the men in our group, Bill Lesher, who is the past president of the Global Parliament of the World’s Religions, shared his story of walking with King over the bridge in Selma, Alabama.
Martin Luther King reminds us of the need to use our voices for good. “I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people, but the for appalling silence of the good people.” Why We Can’t Wait. King like Unity calls us to develop a higher consciousness and to speak from that consciousness to Create a World that Works for All.
“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.” The Trumpet of Conscience
What do you feel passionate about?
What is the Spirit of God calling you to speak out for and against in this world?
What words are you leaving in the Akashic Records for posterity? Words that hurt or words that heal?
Yesterday at the conference, Mark Waldman, a brain and spirituality expert spoke and gave a workshop. He talked about what the word "NO" does in our brain. It creates stress through out our body. The word "YES" however, brings us into a more coherent energy state.
I have found that the more I say YES the more blessed I am, and the better I feel.
Mark also taught us to speak mindfully, a process of speaking very slowly that I had never encountered before. We will work with this during our meditation.
“. . .If you have never found something so dear and so precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live. You may be thirty-eight years old, as I happen to be, and one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid. You refuse to do it because you want to live longer. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you or shoot at you or bomb your house. So you refuse to take the stand. Well, you may go on and live until you are ninety, but you are just as dead at thirty-eight as you would be at ninety. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit. You died when you refused to stand up for right. You died when you refused to stand up for truth. You died when you refused to stand up for justice. . .” from The Autobiography of Martin L. King JR
Posted on Sun, January 16, 2011
by Rev. Jan Chase