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The pain of this show enabled me to figure out what it was—besides my student-of-suffering stance and, specifically, my study of right speech—that drew me to these programs. It is because if it weren’t for practice, that is how desperate I would be. There’s just a hairsbreadth of circumstance between me and them. This is so clear to me now. Without practice, I would have no ground except my latest desire, no obvious way to serve, and nothing in my life that could evoke my genuine, compassionate self. Without practice, my interactions, like those of the washed-up celebrities, would be only about greed and attention—endless desperate need.

After a year or so of investigating right speech, I was adequately chastened and, more than that, I was exceedingly grateful for the precepts. The pleasures of gossip and exaggeration, of humorous put-downs and wicked repartees, faded for me. Now there are no more little ka-chungs in the heart. At least none over gossip anyway!



Originally published in the July 2009 issue of the Shambhala Sun.
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