3.4 Think Before You Speak!

Man was meant to listen more and talk less. That is why as the great British statesman Benjamin Disraeli said: “Nature has endowed man with two ears and one mouth. If man was meant to talk more and listen less, he would have two mouths and only one ear.” Imagine how we would have looked, how strange with two mouths on the two sides and one ear at the centre.

 And mind you, the ears are like funnels, open all the time. There is no door with which you can close them. Whereas if you have to speak even one single word, that word must pass through two walls-two fences. There is firstly the fence of these two rows of teeth. There is secondly the fence of the two lips. Before a word can be spoken, it has to pass, it has to pierce through these two walls, through these two fences. Therefore we must think at least twice before we utter a word.

 A very wise man once remarked that of the unspoken word you are a master, of the spoken word, you are a slave. Once you have spoken a word you cannot get it back, do what you will. Therefore you must be very careful about the words that you speak. Once the word has left your lips, you will not be able to get it back.

 What are unspoken words? They are things you want to say, but remain unsaid, as thoughts in your mind. Once you have put the thoughts into words, once the words have left your lips, you cannot change them or control them.

 A young man went to his spiritual teacher and said, “I have spoken very harsh and unkind words to my friend, and he is deeply hurt. I am afraid I have lost my friendship with him. How can I make amends?” The wise teacher gave him a fresh sheet of blank paper and a pen; he said to the young man, “Write down on this paper all the harsh things you said to him.”

The young man did as he was told, and showed the paper to the teacher.

“Now tear up this sheet of paper into as many small bits as you can,” the wise teacher said.

 Soon, the single sheet was torn into a hundred tiny bits of paper.

 “Throw the bits out of this window,” the teacher told him.

That was easily done! It was a windy day and the tiny bits were scattered far and wide even as the young man watched.

“Now, go out into the street and collect as many bits of the paper as you can,” the teacher ordered him.

The young man was taken aback. “But…but, that will be difficult …” he stammered. “It will be difficult indeed, but do give it a try,” the teacher suggested.

The young man went out. He returned half an hour later, exhausted. He had not been able to get hold of a single torn bit from the paper he had torn up just a while earlier!

 “This is what happens with the spoken word,” the teacher said to him. “Once you have spoken the words aloud, it is very difficult to take them back. Therefore, learn to think before you speak in anger.”