Guarding Our Tongues
The Bible in James 3:1-12 warns: ‘Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
‘When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
‘All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.’
Young and inexperienced souls behave in the manner described in the first part of the above quote, while the wise more highly evolved ones make an effort to take good care of their tongues. They do this because they are aware that the Universal law of cause and effect, also known as the law of Karma, decrees that everything has to return to its source. They appreciate that every thought, word and deed any one of us sends out into our world in some way must find its way back to its sender. That is why wise ones, when they have nothing good to say about someone or something, they shut up and keep quiet.
As we are sociable and talkative creatures by nature, learning to watch the words we speak and thereby take charge of our tongues is one of the most difficult things we have to tackle on our pathway through life. That is undoubtedly why as early as the Bible’s Old Testament told us in Proverbs 18:21: ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue. And those who love it shall eat the fruits thereof.’ In ‘Spiritual Unfoldment 2’ White Eagle adds to this: ‘Keep control of your tongue, so that it says no unkind and hurtful thing. Bear in mind the feelings of those to whom you speak and do so gently and thoughtfully, without anger and haste. When you do this, my dear children of the Earth, difficulties fall away, sorrow recedes into the background and you cannot help but become aware of the gentle presence of the Master within you.
‘We ask you to render a service to yourself and that is holding your tongue. It is one of the hardest tasks that can be asked of you. You ought to see the mists that surround you and your world that is caused by idle chatter. When there is so much of it on the Earth, even the Angels can to nothing but bow their heads, because they are then unable to minister to you. Whenever you are tempted to say: ‘I think or believe so and so. I like this person, but I don’t like that one,’ instead of speaking, be silent and wait and see. If you can also restrain yourself from expressing any foolish opinions about the affairs and the state of your world you will greatly assist the Angels in their work.’
And then there was the philosopher Socrates, in ancient Greece 469 – 399 BC. He was famous for his great wisdom and therefore only too aware of what kind of damage careless gossiping can do. One day an acquaintance came running up to him excitedly and said: ‘Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students?’
‘Wait a moment,’ Socrates replied. ‘Before you tell me I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.’
‘Triple filter? What does that mean?’
‘Before you talk to me about my student let’s take a moment to run what you’re going to say through some filters. The first one is truth. Are you sure that what you are about to tell me is true?’
‘No, I just heard about it.’
‘All right,’ replied Socrates. ‘As you don’t really know whether what you have to say is true or not, let’s try the second filter, the one of goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?’
‘No, quite the opposite!’
‘Ah! So you want to tell me something bad about someone, even though you’re not certain it’s true?’
The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.
Socrates continued: ‘Well, if what you have to say is meant to be of some use to me, you may still pass the test, because the third filter is usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?’
‘No, not really!’ came the reply.
‘If what you want to tell me is neither true nor good and not even useful, why tell it to me at all?’ asked the sage.
Deeply ashamed of himself, the man walked away.
This is but one example of the wisdom for which Socrates was held in such high esteem by his contemporaries. His message is as poignant and valid for us as it was in his time.
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