Right Thinking, Right Speech and Right Action

right thinking, right speech and right action schematic representation

by Jayaram V

Three questions you should frequently ask yourself. Am I thinking the right thoughts? Am I speaking the right words? Am I taking the right actions? The first one is the steering wheel, the second one the gear, and the third one, the gas pedal - Jayaram V


Many times, we are tempted to shift the blame for our problems and suffering to others. When we do not find anyone to blame, we blame God or extraneous circumstances. It is true both extrinsic and intrinsic factors play an important role in shaping our destinies. However, while we have little control over extrinsic factors, we can to a great extent control what happens inside us and what we can accomplish through our thoughts, words and actions.

The right approach is when suffering arises we must first hold ourselves responsible for it. We must look at ourselves and know how we allowed it to happen either through our actions or through our complicity and negligence. We must look for the causes within ourselves honestly and truthfully, removing the blinders which we usually put upon our minds as part of our self-denial, to find out the root causes of our suffering and deal with them.

Most problems in our lives arise from our thoughts, words and actions. No matter who we are and what we do in our lives, these three shape our lives and destinies. Thoughts are the source. Words and actions are their extensions. Together they shape your life and destiny. Therefore, if you want to change yourself and progress in your life in the right direction, you have to focus on these three. We may not always find the connection between these and our experiences because we do not remember everything that happens to us. A lot of our experiences and perceptions remain hidden deep within our consciousness. We cannot unravel them easily. However, through concentration, meditation, regression and reflection, and if necessary with professional help, we can eventually find a connection between our present problems and past experiences.

Whether you are a materialist or a spiritual person, whether you believe in God or not, the following three are important for peace and stability in your life. By practicing them diligently, we can achieve both peace and prosperity in a balanced way, without compromising our moral and spiritual values. The following discussion is based on few Buddhist percepts concerning there eightfold path. However it also draws inspiration from other sources.

There is no exaggeration in stating that our thinking, words and actions influence the course of our lives. They are also the most visible aspects or outward manifestations of our personalities. They define our lives and our character for the world in general. Other people come to know about you and your character through them only. Therefore, if you want to pursue right goals the right way and progress in the right direction, you have to begin the process primarily by focusing on these three and making necessary improvements. Our lives will be better off and we will be better off, if we focus primarily on these three. Together, they act like the trident of Lord Siva, the destroyer of the worlds, with which you can dissolve the darkness, ignorance and inertia of your mind and body and bring cheer and vitality into your life.

  • Right thinking
  • Right speech
  • Right actions

Right thinking

Right thinking is based on facts, truth, understanding, discretion and reason. It is free from bias, ill will, ignorance, delusion, ulterior motives and negative emotions such as fear, anger, greed, pride, and envy. It leads to fulfillment, peace and stability. It is also the basis of right speech and right actions. Right thinking creates right attitude, mental clarity, goal clarity, enthusiasm, inspiration, courage, confidence, hope, cheer, resolve, insight, intuition, foresight and attentiveness. With right thinking, one can avoid conflicts, resolve problems, improve relationships, create awareness and empower oneself.

Right speech

Right speech arises from right views, right thoughts, right knowledge, right intentions, understanding, compassion, humility, thoughtfulness, respect, reason, consideration, balance, peace and stability. Right speech is polite, gentle, patient, thoughtful and unimposing. It facilitates conversation and understanding, rather than inciting passions and emotions. Like right thinking, it is also free from bias, ill will, ignorance, delusion, ulterior motives and negative emotions such as fear, anger, greed, pride, and envy. Right speech does not hurt or harm others, does not debase them, does not take refuge in falsehood or slander, does not use harsh and critical words, does not distort truth and does not create discard or disharmony. Right speech leads to peace and stability within oneself and others. Right speech is free from idle chatter, frivolous talk, vanity and haste.

Right action

' Right action arises from right thinking, right knowledge, right effort, right discernment, right awareness and right intentions. Right action is that which facilitates one's progress in any endeavor without compromising one's spiritual or material wellbeing and without causing harm to oneself or others. It arises from diligence, discipline, determination, focus, sacrifice, virtue, dexterity and detachment. Right action does not hurt or harm others. It facilitates cooperation, appreciation, respect and understanding. It is free form malice, stealing, fraud, deceit, envy, greed, pride, lust, delusion, anger, fear and other negative emotions. It empowers rather than being oppressive. It influences rather than being dominating. It is goal oriented or purpose oriented. It leads to peace, harmony, balance, stability, learning, awareness and righteousness.

The triple strategy

Right thinking leads to inner transformation. It results in right intention, right awareness, right words and right actions. Right speech leads to harmonious relationships, and a better appreciation and understanding of you by others. It results in cooperation, friendliness and peaceful coexistence. Right actions results in manifestation of your thoughts, material success and spiritual well being. Together they enrich your life, empower your thoughts and lead you in the direction of your dreams and aspirations.

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