Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I'm about half-way through The Heart of Buddha's Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh who wrote the book The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh that I wrote about a little while ago. So far it's a wonderful book that describes Buddhism broadly but also brings it down to earth very specifically.

The chapter on "Right Speech" starts with this description of Right Speech.

Forth Mindfulness Training
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am determined to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain and will not criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I am determined to make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
I don't think anyone should be forced to follow this code and I'm not suggesting that it become a bloggers code or anything. I just find that it resonates with my personal philosophy that is evolving over time.

In this context, I now regret the tone in which I wrote the whiny post about the W Hotel not wanting to store a bike for me. I was frustrated and annoyed and wrote something that was probably somewhat cruel considering no one was really at fault. After I posted that note, I sent the link to the W. I got a call from someone responsible there who apologized to me. I realized that I really didn't need an apology and what I really wanted was for them to try to improve generally if possible. I really didn't feel good having made someone feel bad, but since I wrote that post in a somewhat cruel way, it probably did make people feel bad.

Anyway, I'm not trying to become a buddhist monk or anything, but possibly because of my new rather non-violent diet, I'm feeling more and more at peace and less and less happy about any cruelty or un-mindful actions on my part and regret silly things like that whiny post.


There is a sutra on the eightfold path, that contains a wonderful passage on Right Speech. This version is from

Self-purification through well-chosen speech

"And how is one made pure in four ways by verbal action?

"There is the case where a certain person, abandoning false speech, abstains from false speech. When he has been called to a town meeting, a group meeting, a gathering of his relatives, his guild, or of the royalty, if he is asked as a witness, 'Come & tell, good man, what you know': If he doesn't know, he says, 'I don't know.' If he does know, he says, 'I know.' If he hasn't seen, he says, 'I haven't seen.' If he has seen, he says, 'I have seen.' Thus he doesn't consciously tell a lie for his own sake, for the sake of another, or for the sake of any reward. Abandoning false speech, he abstains from false speech. He speaks the truth, holds to the truth, is firm, reliable, no deceiver of the world.

"Abandoning divisive speech he abstains from divisive speech. What he has heard here he does not tell there to break those people apart from these people here. What he has heard there he does not tell here to break these people apart from those people there. Thus reconciling those who have broken apart or cementing those who are united, he loves concord, delights in concord, enjoys concord, speaks things that create concord.

"Abandoning abusive speech, he abstains from abusive speech. He speaks words that are soothing to the ear, that are affectionate, that go to the heart, that are polite, appealing & pleasing to people at large.

"Abandoning idle chatter, he abstains from idle chatter. He speaks in season, speaks what is factual, what is in accordance with the goal, the Dhamma, & the Vinaya. He speaks words worth treasuring, seasonable, reasonable, circumscribed, connected with the goal.

"This is how one is made pure in four ways by verbal action."

Abandoning idle chatter, he abstains from idle chatter. He speaks in season, speaks what is factual, what is in accordance with the goal, the Dhamma, & the Vinaya. He speaks words worth treasuring, seasonable, reasonable, circumscribed, connected with the goal.

Thanks for this Adam. Does this mean we have to abstain from Twitter? ;-)

"I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain"

Blam! 70% of the blogosphere disappears!

You know, there's nothing wrong with an occasional snarky comment to a friend, as long as it doesn't stray into cruelty or meanness.
Friends are friends and that sort of thing can strengthen the bonds of a relationship, if the spirit is right. It can build camaraderie, if it is tempered with consideration.

I think you know all of this already, though. I've never found you to be a mean-spirited person, but rather someone who is open and attentive to people, thoughtful, considerate and of course, a total dork.

right speech was something of a code on The Well in the late 80s/early 90s. John Coate conferencing manager at the time would use it to cool disputes, calm frayed nerves. Basically... Respect. Listen for what people are trying to say, interpret positively rather than looking for negative. Of course it didn't often work...

Hope you find something in the Book that helps you our Spirtualy.

My mother taught me that criticizing was not good, maybe she is a little bit Buddhist. For every bad thing about something/someone that you would criticize you can always think about a good think that can be praised. If I HAVE to criticize something I try always to put emphasis on the good points and after that I suggest the other person the bad points that could be improved.

But, as Jim O'Connell said, sometimes between friends is good to say things straight, it will make you think a lot about your self if a good friend tells you to correct and attitude, or bad behavior. I guess that's the paper of our parents when we are young.

I'm gonna get the book.

As a friend, here is a straight punch: you are becoming a carrot sucking wimp. ;-p

Don: Yeah? Well, #(*$&% you! ;-P


Nowadays it's really easy to forget that whenever we say good things or bad things about someone -no matter how or when- it DOES have some effect. Recently I took a seminary *altough some people tend to say this NXIVM guys are a cult* and some stuff really made sense for me. They kept saying that if you are not talking something positive about a human being, you better keep your mouth shut, specially if you don't know who that person is. Another topic that really got my attention was the power of silence as well. When you are on a group of persons and someone is talking bad things about someone else usually we tend to keep quiet, and somehow our silence could be a motivation for this talker to keep going and going saying cruel things about someone else. This whole NXIVM stuff was really based on Buddhism in so many ways, I didn't feel it was that "amazing" as some friends told me, but at least got me into reading more about Buddhism. I'm getting the book as well.

Joi, you are perfectly right to voice your gripes about the W Hotel. You spoke honestly and backed up what you said. There's often no nice, harmless way to make a legitimate complaint, and it would be a dull world indeed if no one had the balls to proffer a considered opinion. And maybe the W will change as a result of what you said. I'm glad you are leaving the post up.

you continue to inspire me toward veganism. thanks.

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a lotus for you,