Choose words that make the heart soar, not sore
The human heart is very sensitive to words. Few things can dishearten an inspired heart as much as callous or critical words. And conversely, few things can enliven a depressed heart as much as comforting or compassionate words.
Indeed, the Bhagavad-gita itself is a testimony to the transformational power of words. It was spoken to a dejected Arjuna to help him understand his indestructible spiritual core and the inexhaustible nature of God’s love for him. Internalizing these timeless spiritual truths restored Arjuna’s morale. This transformation in the Gita’s original student demonstrates its essential purpose – to make the human heart soar with the inspiration coming from spiritual wisdom.
If our words make people feel that the propagators of truth are too smug and self-righteous to be tolerated, leave alone trusted, then we do a disservice to both them and the truth that we are meant to represent.
To inspire people thus, the Gita does need to counter their misconceptions, as it does with Arjuna’s bodily conception (02.11). But chastising words can misfire, thereby hurting and alienating people. Knowing this danger, the Gita keeps such words occasional. And, more importantly, it places them within the context of a loving, trusting teacher-student relationship that the student has voluntarily chosen to enter (02.07).
As an overarching guideline for speech, the Gita (17.15) urges us to speak the truth, but non-agitatingly. Accordingly, when we share Gita wisdom, we need to speak in a way that encourages, not discourages, others in moving towards the truth. Even true words when spoken insensitively can hurt others unnecessarily, just as a surgical scalpel when used carelessly can wound patients unnecessarily. If our words make people feel that the propagators of truth are too smug and self-righteous to be tolerated, leave alone trusted, then we do a disservice to both them and the truth that we are meant to represent.
Instead, if we moderate our speech, we help create in them the foundation of trust from which Gita wisdom can make their heart soar in its flight towards the divine.
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