“Before you speak, ask yourself: Is it kind, is it true, is it necessary, does it improve upon the silence?” -Shirdi Sai Baba.
We often speak to fill the silences – whether awkward or otherwise.
Sometimes, it feels warranted, you are visiting with someone and they say nothing at all and it looks like the mandatory hour or so has to be spent. You can’t close your eyes and meditate or sit and paint or read books and so on. You feel obliged to entertain the people you are visiting with.
Some people fill those silences with serving-eating-food activity, not always because it’s meal time!
Sometimes with family members too, you feel like breaching the silence, not because you have anything to say, but because you feel you ought to say something.
So, ”Before you speak, ask yourself: Is it kind, is it true, is it necessary, does it improve upon the silence?”
Often, you can meet the criteria ‘Is it kind’ and ‘Is it true’ and dish out a genuine compliment for example.
But possibly, it is not ‘necessary‘.
What words are necessary?
Perhaps the tv anchors babble unnecessarily. But may be it engages someone and fills their lonely hours. Who knows?
May be it is ‘necessary’ to fill the silence in a visit, so that your companions will not feel bored, depressed, unloved or imprisoned in your society. Maybe it is necessary to joke and make them laugh or share some emotion and words are the medium.
Maybe you can fill the silence with a game or a bhajan or an activity of some kind. Or you can watch tv together.
Does it improve upon the silence?
Can anything improve upon the silence?
Vedic chants, the babbling or brooks, the chirping of birds, the sounds of waves crashing on the beach…..
Words full of love and illumination.
These are hard to come by unless you are chanting the bhagavad gita for example.
Perhaps, it is not necessary to speak, perhaps extended visits are not necessary. Maybe an awkward silence is a clear indicator that the visit has come to an end. Maybe silence Is Best!