The Eight-Fold Way: Understanding and Truth

In the last post, I talked about the fact that I have come to associate questions with each of the terms of The Eight-Fold Way and I briefly discussed the first.

Today I want to focus on the second and third terms: True Understanding and True Speech.

Traditionally, true understanding—also rendered as “right intention”—has to do with liberating emotional intelligence in your life and acting from love and compassion. The idea is that thoughts are the forerunners of our actions; that what we think, along with what we say and do, create karma.

The traditional meaning of true, or right, speech is more obvious: clear, truthful, uplifting and non-harmful communication. It is using communication as a way to further our understanding of ourselves and others and as a way to develop insight.

My questions:

True Understanding – What do I need to understand?

The simple answer is, of course, just about everything. The number of things I don’t understand, at least as well as I could or should, overwhelms the number I do. But again, as I said in discussing the first question, for true awareness, the point is to recognize what crosses your mind at the moment of this asking. We often do such a good job of concealing from ourselves that which we should most be considering. This is a good way to catch yourself a little off guard and perhaps realize what is most troubling you.

True Speech – What am I lying about?

Let us all hope that the answer to this one is NOT just about everything—though it can in fact be a trivially easy question if you happen to be stepping out on your spouse or embezzling money from your office. On the other hand, it becomes a very interesting question if you see yourself as a truthful person, a person who does not in fact lie. So, try telling yourself the answer is “nothing.” Go ahead. Try it. I guarantee you that if you keep asking the question, hourly or daily or whatever works for you, something will cross your mind. Again, the point is to catch yourself out, to note that answer that flits through your mind at the moment of asking. Then let it go. That’s all right.

Don’t focus on the answers to any of these questions.

Just recognize.

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