Our thoughts are things and every time we speak, we are using sound to create patterns in mental substance and if we could see on the inner, more subtle planes we could actually see thought forms. They are forms that are created in emotional and mental substance and these forms that we create when we speak stay with us.

Robert: Hello, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Inner Sight. Our show today is going to be on the power of speech and I’ll begin with this, there are three things you should think about before you speak: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? I heard that quote from Sarah McKechnie, who of course is here with us today. I like it a lot because so often words are wasted and so often, we don’t examine our thoughts and it’s very good to place a high value on our thoughts because everything that we say really affects other people. Sarah, tell us more about that quote.

Sarah: Well, first of all, I would have to say that I didn’t originate that comment, and secondly, I’d have to say that I don’t always live by it by any means and maybe that’s why it meant so much to me. It was a revelation. I don’t know where I came across it, but I shared it in a talk I gave last fall at a symposium that we held and one of the people attending was a junior high school teacher. She thought it was a really interesting insight too, so she took it into her classroom and put it on the wall of the classroom and discussed it with her students and they thought it was quite fascinating and in fact, they began to use it as a way of correcting each other. When one of them would get off some really snappy retort, another one would say, now was that really necessary? So, I guess it hits home, doesn’t it?

Robert: It certainly does. I like another thought from Alice Bailey and it is as follows: “the purpose of all speech is to clothe thought and thus make our thoughts available for others. When we speak, we evoke a thought and make it present, and we bring that which is concealed within us into audible expression. Speech reveals, and right speech can create a form of beneficent purpose, just as wrong speech can produce a form which has a malignant objective. Without realizing this, however, ceaselessly and irresponsibly, day after day we speak; we use words; we multiply sounds; and surround ourselves with form worlds of our own creation. Is it not essential, therefore, that before we speak, we should think?” I think that’s a very profound statement.

Sarah: It gets to the essence of speech, which really carries on from the initial opening comment, is it true, is it kind, is it necessary? It’s all based on the recognition that when we speak, we give substance to an idea and we in a sense anchor it on the plane of conscious communication with others. That doesn’t mean that staying silent doesn’t have its own kind of communication, because the thoughts we think are also communicated. But there’s something about speech that really propels an attitude or an idea or a concept into a kind of cannonball that can strike others in a way that’s either good or very harmful. There’s a real power to the spoken word.

Robert: Seeing that there is more talk than ever before, what does that indicate, if anything?

Dale: Yes, I think there is more talk today and it’s because there has been a speeding up of communications and that’s added a lot to our speech. Everybody’s walking around with their cell phones and they’re constantly talking and there’s also the internet. Although they’re not speaking with sound, they’re speaking with words over the Internet, perhaps in chat rooms and so forth. I don’t know if there’s a lot of substance, but there’s a lot of talk and people are spending a lot of energy on that.

Robert: Does that indicate anything, that there is so much talk? Is it a sign of the times or does it have any meaning that we’re talking so voraciously these days?

Sarah: I think it probably indicates that people are highly agitated and energized today, and probably the effect of all the media, television, radio, the Internet, computers. All of this is agitating the minds of people and that’s probably demonstrated in the fact that everybody’s talking constantly and communicating. There’s a need to communicate, but most people are just making noise a lot of the time, and “most people” includes me in that. Real communication means literally to share in common. And if you think of that definition, that makes you re-evaluate whether what you are talking about with another person is really necessary, does it really communicate, share in common?

Robert: And I’ve been thinking about what you said earlier, too, about the effect of speech that we have on people, and I think you’re right. With speech, we can either lift people up and bring them to the heights of their self respect, get them to really think well of themselves and turn them around maybe even as far as attitudes, opinions, their self-image, or we can also as you said before, bring them down low with speech, especially if the person speaking is someone who we have a lot of respect for. So, I think you’re right we have to be aware that speech is very powerful. With speech we can do a lot of harm or we can do a lot of good. We can change the world with speech for the positive or the negative.

Sarah: I suppose it all depends on what our underlying purpose is. When we speak, what’s the reason for us to speak in the way we do? If we could really get at what’s mobilizing our thinking process, a lot of the time it might be a desire to set another person straight. We have this phrase, “I just wanted to get it off my chest.” People speak in a way that can cause so much harm because they’re not thinking about communicating. They’re not thinking about sharing something in common with another and achieving a deeper level of understanding. They’re just expressing themselves, they’re releasing force so that they will be unburdened and that’s, I think, where a lot of the harm comes in.

Robert: And it’s amazing as we look back on our lives, I think we remember every harsh word that was ever said to us.

Sarah: As well as the harsh words we’ve said. It goes both ways.

Robert: Yes, that’s true. And harsh words seem to take on a life of their own, and we can’t recall them once they’ve been said. Even an apology sometimes doesn’t do it because the other person has been wounded. It’s similar to that saying that you can’t unring a bell. So, because speech is so important and powerful, I think it’s really good to do what Alice Bailey suggests, to think before we speak.

Sarah: She said another thing, which is very brief; she said, “talk less and love more.”

Robert: I like that one too. But what can we learn about a person just by the way he or she speaks?

Dale: I think we can learn a lot. We can learn things by the words they use, the intonation or the refinement of their speech, whether it’s crude or whether it’s cultured. That says a lot about the person and their command of the language. There are many things that we can learn, because when people speak, they’re revealing or bringing through what they are on the inside. That’s one of the purposes of speech; as it says, “the purpose of all speech is to clothe thought and thus make our thoughts available for others.” The quote goes on to say, “we bring that which is concealed within us into audible expression.” The way we speak and the words that we use when we speak conveys a lot about a person and what we are inside.

Sarah: And it may not be what the person intended to reveal. Something that he or she is not aware of might be coming through, and that’s where it’s so hard to know how one is really expressing oneself and how another person is receiving what one says. It comes from us, but we aren’t on the receiving end.

Robert: Why is speech so powerful? I think to some extent we’ve answered that already, but would you have anything that you might add to that and also can it be an expression of spiritual power?

Sarah: Absolutely it can be an expression of spiritual consciousness. Sound, as I understand it, is a medium that conveys power. If you look at the power of prayers and incantations and chants and hymns in all world cultures and religions, sound is used to approach God or to approach divinity and to appeal, to invoke the presence of divinity in the world and in one’s life. That’s done through sound, through words. So, it is a medium of power and it can be an expression of great spiritual power, not only in the way that it’s used to approach God, but in the way that we speak to other human beings. The capacity we have to express understanding or to find just the right thing to say to another person, just the right idea said at the right time can be enough to give someone who’s really struggling or suffering enough insight to come out of whatever the situation is that’s causing them such difficulty. There’s an ancient spiritual text that says about speech, “Enter thy brother’s heart and see his woe. Then speak. Let the words spoken convey to him the potent force he needs to lose his chains yet lose them not thyself.” In other words, what we say can help set a person free to do the work he needs to do to liberate himself.

Robert: Yes, that’s well said. And it must be highly spiritual too, because the beginning of Genesis says that in the beginning there was the word and the word was God.

Dale: And to go on from that, the world was made by the Word of God; God spoke and the worlds were created. But he hasn’t finished his sentence yet, there’s more to do because it hasn’t reached perfection.

Robert: It’s interesting. Some ancient writings that I was reading not too long ago, relating to the beginning of Genesis said that along with the Word in the beginning, there was also the frequency. This gave me pause for thought. Those people who are aware of what I’m talking about might be insightful enough to understand just how powerful the word is from that statement.

Sarah: Another word for God is Logos and Logos means word.

Dale: It gives an example of the creative power of sound. If God uses sound to create the world and everything upon the world, then you can see what a powerful source of energy this is, using sound. Everything vibrates.

Sarah: And we’re wielding that power when we speak.

Dale: That’s absolutely right. Our thoughts are things and every time we speak, we are using sound to create patterns in mental substance and if we could see on the inner, more subtle plains we could actually see thought forms. They are forms that are created in emotional and mental substance and these forms that we create when we speak stay with us, they’re in our aura, they stay present with us and they create the atmosphere that we build around ourselves. If we think that what we say is gone and it disappears, I don’t think that’s quite right. I think a lot of our thoughts hang around. As long as we give them life and direction, they will remain alive. Therefore, they are actual things and forms, but on a very subtle level of thought.

Robert: It’s profoundly interesting. What are the positive and negative aspects of speech and can it be a way to serve others?

Sarah: Well, certainly some of the negative aspects of speech include gossip, criticism, selfish words, hate speech, that we all are guilty of I suppose. That brings up those amazing discussions about whether free speech entitles one to say things that are truly hateful and endangering to others. There is another kind of speech that can be negative. It’s the light, bantering speech that wastes energy in a sense, and really doesn’t accomplish much. We talk about people being “all talk and no action” and that is an example of that. The United Nations is another example where often the accusation is made that they just talk. But, without that talk, who knows how many conflicts might have precipitated into war. So, talk can be a way of working through differences and achieving some kind of understanding. Sometimes it’s very laborious. But certainly, the UN’s an example of that old cliché, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” It’s not true. Words do harm and there have been some terrible things said within the United Nations debate against different nations and peoples that do wound.

Robert: Our words mean so much, and they mean so much to children who are so vulnerable and innocent. They look up to adults, and they often look up to adults for self definition. I remember this man where I grew up who owned a grocery store and he had five sons. One day he was up on a ladder stocking shelves and he yelled out, “hey stupid” and all five boys came running. It was such a tragedy and a shame that they responded to that name, but that was the image that they had of themselves. None of those boys ever graduated from high school either and I’m wondering whether or not that had something to do with the father’s perception of them. Is it ever appropriate to speak forcefully? And if it has to be done, how can we do it without touching nerves and harming people?

Dale: I think yes, one can speak forcefully, but I think it’s the intent behind your words that matters. If your intent is to wound or to hurt another person, then that’s going to be heard in the voice. Parents have to speak forcefully to their children very often, but if the parents love the children, which hopefully they do, then that’s going to come through in their voice.

Sarah: Wouldn’t you say too that the goal would be understanding? You can speak forcefully if you are genuinely trying to create a greater understanding, but if you speak forcefully to set someone straight, to express anger, to put them right, then that’s speaking forcefully in a way that harms.

Dale: Sure, and sometimes you have to speak forcefully because someone is going to do something that’s destructive and maybe even destructive for him or herself. You may have to get the point across of, don’t do this otherwise something bad will happen. So, there are times when being forceful is necessary. It’s considered tough love.

Robert: Yes, I absolutely agree with you on that.

Sarah: But it doesn’t demolish the self-image that the person has. You could speak forcefully and truthfully without undermining the very foundation of another person’s sense of self worth.

Robert: I think when you speak forcefully in that way, deep within the other person is the knowledge that you’re really exuding tough love. Why is it so difficult to learn to speak proportionately or appropriately?

Sarah: Because we don’t see the whole picture, we don’t have a corner on the complete truth. Each of us sees reality in terms of our own point of reference, but it’s only one point of reference, it’s not the complete view and we forget that, so we speak as if we have the complete understanding of a situation and we don’t. Speaking proportionately also means that one learns to speak in a way that another person can hear and receive. There’s a technique called “By thy God” which is an interesting way of saying you speak to another person according to his or her values and beliefs, not your own, speaking in a way that they can respond to and be inspired by.

Robert: I think that’s very important when we’re speaking to use language for the person and to remember the purpose of speech is to communicate and if we’re using language that people are not familiar with, then it’s not going to be effective speech. I think also that speech often takes the form of criticism and we should think before we criticize because criticism can be so harmful. Since we’ve established here, that speech is so powerful and so important, what are some of the techniques for learning to speak harmlessly?

Sarah: Well, one is as I said, to remember that we don’t possess the whole truth. We can preface our views with something like “in my opinion” or “I see what you mean” or perhaps say something that indicates that you realize your own viewpoint is just that, and not the complete truth. Another example would be, to never speak or write when you’re angry, but rather wait until you’ve calmed down. Never ever write a letter when you’re angry or you’ll live to regret it. That should be a rule everybody follows. Another technique is one that many people do each day at 5:00 o’clock when they take a moment to link up with the divinity within and they pledge themselves, “May I fulfill my part in the plan of God through self-forgetfulness, harmlessness and right speech”, and then do an evening review at night before you fall asleep, looking back over your day and try to evaluate how speech was used.

Robert: Speech can be so powerful and I think we’ve touched on that in so many ways during this show. We might want to ponder on this thought, that goodwill is the touchstone that will transform the world. Goodwill is love in action. It is the energy that draws us together in right relationship. There is a world prayer called the Great Invocation. It’s a call for light and love and goodwill to flow into the world and into our hearts. Let’s listen for a moment to these powerful words.

Sarah closes with the Great Invocation.

(This is an edited transcript of a recorded radio program called “Inner Sight”. This conversation was recorded between the host, Robert Anderson, and the then President and Vice-President of Lucis Trust, Sarah and Dale McKechnie.)

(Transcribed and edited by Carla McLeod)




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