Our tongue is like a loaded gun that we always carry within us
Suppose we have a powerful, loaded gun. We would be extremely careful that it doesn’t get fired accidentally.
Scarily, we all have a powerful, loaded gun with us, within us. That gun is our tongue – it is loaded with words. While words may not kill people physically, they can cause hurts worse than death. The Bhagavad-gita (01.34) states that worse than the pain of death is the pain of dishonor. And dishonor is often inflicted upon people by targeting them with derisive, dreadful words. Just as sadists delight in shooting innocent people, demonic people delight in using harsh words (16.04).
Even people who aren’t sadistic, if they shoot someone accidentally, that person may end up permanently maimed. Similarly, harsh words, spoken carelessly especially by people in authority positions such as parents, teachers or guides, can leave subordinates with lifelong psychological scars.
Of course, both guns and words have constructive use. Just as a gun can drive away or down miscreants, so too can the tongue dissipate or eliminate misconceptions that people may have. But just as those authorized to use guns may cause unnecessary hurts, so too can those who speak authentic knowledge, including authentic spiritual knowledge. If police are not careful while shooting wrongdoers, they may shoot innocent bystanders. Similarly, when we act as spiritual guides for others, we may want to use our words to destroy their misconceptions. But if we are not careful, we may end up speaking words that destroy their tender enthusiasm to enquire about life’s spiritual side. We need to carefully discipline our speech so that we don’t just speak the truth, but also speak it appealingly (17.15).
The tongue is indeed like a loaded gun – when this sobering truth registers within us, we become conscientious about the words we speak.
Think it over:
- How is our tongue like a loaded gun?
- How may we unintentionally wound those whom we want to guide?
- Have you ever been shot by others’ gun-like tongue? How can that experience strengthen your resolve to not let your tongue shoot accidentally?
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