Buddhism in Plain Terms

Embracing The Art Of Speaking

< Buddhism in Plain Terms < 白话佛法共修分享    

The Buddha once said, “All of you should guard your speech. Bad karma of speech would result in consequences more terrifying than a ferocious fire”.

Talking has become so habitual that oftentimes, we are quick to express our mind, forgetting that our words can have effect on others, and we can’t make it as if those words were never said. The pain others feel from the sharp words we spit out can be real and unbearable.

Let us be reminded that kind words breathe life into others, but nasty words crush spirit, and hence, we should spout lotus through our mouth (口吐莲花). 🌸

In this pack, we will share with you:

💬 words can make or break a person;

🕒 the importance of being tactful and timely in our speech;

🎶 tone is important – it is not what we say but how we say it; and

💢 ways not to be blunt in times of frustration and anger.

Not to be missed is the inspiring story of Dale Carnegie – a renowned American author – whose life was completely transformed because of the kind words his stepmother spoke to him in their first encounter.

Last but not least, let our words be an instrument of wholesomeness as Master Lu once said, “One is halfway to achieving Buddhahood if he is able to guard himself from creating negative karma of speech”.🌺


< A Story of Transformative Power of Words >


Master Jun Hong Lu: Since young, the renowned author Dale Carnegie was known for his atrocious character. At the age of nine, his father remarried and hence, his stepmother came to live with them. They were very poor then and they lived in the countryside. His stepmother was from a wealthy family.

In the initial encounter with his stepmother, his father said, “Darling, you would better watch out for this boy; the worst you can ever have in this county. He has driven me to my wits’ end. For all you know, he may throw a stone at you before the next morning or do something unthinkable”.   

To Carnegie’s surprise, his stepmother walked up to him with a smile, lifted his head, and in all seriousness, she looked at him. She turned back to look at her husband and said, “You are wrong. He is not the worst boy in the county, but the smartest and the most creative. The only thing is, he has yet to discover an avenue to engage his passion”.

To Carnegie, those words were so heart-warming that he almost teared up.

It was with these words that he started to forge a friendship with his stepmother. In fact, those words became the driving force of his life, and in the later stage of his life, Carnegie went on to create the ‘28 Golden Rules of Success’, and became the world-acclaimed spiritual mentor and guru of success of the 20th century.

Before his stepmother appeared in his life, no one had ever complimented his intelligence. Instead, in the eyes of his father and his neighbours, he was nothing but bad. Just that one sentence that his stepmother spoke, his entire life was completely transformed.

At the age of 14, his stepmother bought him a second-hand typewriter and said, “I believe you will certainly become a writer”. After accepting the gift and bearing her well-wishes in mind, he started submitting articles to a local newspaper.

Recognising the magnanimous nature of his stepmother and having personally witnessed how she changed their family with her warmheartedness, Carnegie was determined not to let her down.

The strength exuded by his stepmother fuelled his imagination and creativity. It was as if the infinite wisdom in him started to connect, making him one of the wealthiest and most renowned authors in America. He also became one of the most influential personalities of the 20th century.

This underscores the importance for Buddhist practitioners to be an inspiration to others, and to be of service to others. One word is all that it takes to salvage a person’s spiritual life. Conversely, one word of insult or sarcasm can destroy the inner quality in him. 

Source: Master Jun Hong Lu’s Public Talk, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 21 October 2019


Spouting Lotus Through Your Mouth


Master Jun Hong Lu: “Right Speech” (正语) means to refrain from telling lies, scolding others or being sarcastic to others. You should only say good things about others and this is what is meant by “To spout lotus through your mouth” (口吐莲花).

“Wow, long time no see, your face has the best glow!”,

“Long time no see, you look so high-spirited!”,

“Wow, congratulations! You are into spiritual cultivation, vegetarianism, chanting and making vows. That’s just awesome!”

This is what it means by “spouting lotus through your mouth”.

On the contrary, those who don’t practise “Right Speech” will spit out, “What is so great about him? Do you think you are the best and I am not?”.

Remember, when you speak righteousness, others will heed you. Conversely, when you speak wickedness, others will repel you.

Source: Master Jun Hong Lu’s World Buddhist Fellowship Meeting, Jakarta, Indonesia, 21 April 2017 


The Power of Words: Seeds of Wisdom, Harvest of Positive Karma


Caller: Hi Master, what are the benefits of kind words (语言布施)?

Master Jun Hong Lu: A person, who has a loud and clear voice, with an amiable disposition will be well liked. One who is able to speak kindly will have enduring wisdom, and he will gain the adoration of many. Would you prefer to be with someone who always speaks well of others or with a person who, for no reason, will hurl sarcasms or insults at you?

Caller: Not the latter, but the former. In the video programs where Master narrates the story of the Buddha, you mention that light will emit from the Buddha’s mouth. Does this good karma have anything to do with the Buddha’s unrelenting quest to propagate the right dharma (说正法) and practise of right speech (说正语) that made it possible for others to feel the luminous light that He emits?

Master Jun Hong Lu: Absolutely! There’s light in every part of His body. It’s not only His mouth, even His ears. Every single part of His body will emit light. How can a space be deficient in brightness where there is sun? Even the moon is bright, let alone the sun.

Caller: I see. It means that all the six sense organs  – eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and consciousness – are impeccably pure and clean.

Master Jun Hong Lu: That’s right.

Source: Wenda20200828 08:27, Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program


Decoding the Essence of Kind Words


Caller: Master, during a recent dharma convention in Malaysia, you mentioned the Bodhisattva told you, “Kind words that we speak of others will earn praises from all Buddhas of the Ten Directions” (嘴巴里说别人一句好话,你可以赢得十方诸佛的赞叹).

Does it mean to speak a kind word in itself is meritorious? What constitutes a kind word? What are the criteria? Please enlighten us, Master.

Master Jun Hong Lu: The criterion is those words must stem from the heart and are truthful. What are the examples of kind words that garner the most merits?

“Wow! You are so well-cultivated!” 

“Gosh, your merits are immeasurable!”.

Such words are encouraging and allow others to feel the joy of dharma. Your words serve as a motivation for others to push forward in their spiritual cultivation. If you are able to make a Buddhist practitioner forge ahead in his Buddhist practice, you are garnering boundless merits for yourself. It goes to show how powerful these words are.

On the flip side, if you say,

“Oh my, you look really good and you have such a good glow on your face”. By saying so, do you think there is any merit to be had?

“Gosh, the new leather shoes that you bought are so shiny and they look very much like rain boots”. What point does such a statement serve?

What constitutes a kind word? If you say the following, you are essentially spouting lotus through your mouth:

“Oh, you’ve changed for the better”, 

“Wow, we must learn from you”, 

“We must strive on with diligence”. 

People who willingly speak such words will amass immeasurable merits. Do you understand?

Caller: Yes, I do. Master, what about the phrase, “I rejoice the good you do” (随喜赞叹您), is it considered good words?

Master Jun Hong Lu: “Praise and rejoice” is quite formal and it will not make others feel really happy. Instead, you can just give praise in a more direct manner by saying, “Wow, that’s excellent!” or “Wow, your merits are boundless!”. Your merits will be immense if you embrace the things others tell you with praise and joy right upon hearing them.

Assuming, a person tells you, “Guess what, my child had a high fever a couple of days ago, and he recovered after I recited some Little Houses for him”, and you reply, “Wow, congratulations!”.

There is merit to be had when you can share the joy of others. He is essentially sharing his merits and positive energy with you. If he tells you, “Guess what, I dreamed of Bodhisattva”, and you respond by saying, “Congratulations! That goes to show that you are cultivating very well!”. The moment the dharma joy washes over him, the positive energy generated will rub off on you as well.

A simple example is you are at home and your mum is cooking, and you praise her, “Mum, why is the food you prepare so delicious? What a joy it is to eat it!”. What do you suppose your mother’s reaction would be? She may even say, “Eat more, my child, it’s all for you!”. Does this not equal to giving him all the merits?

Caller: Master, you explained it so well. It’s so fruitful to be speaking to you. Thank you, Master.

Source: Wenda20151227B 34:42, Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program


Embracing Harmony and Riding the Flow


Caller: Hi Master, you once mentioned, “A person who is tactful in his speech will be less likely to create negative karma or suffer from retribution”. Does it mean that being tactful reduces the chances of creating negative karma?

Master Jun Hong Lu: Being tactful with words is actually not a bad thing. From the perspective of the human world, firstly, he will not offend others. Secondly, his tactful speech will not harm others and in this regard, would you agree that no negative karma is created?

Instead, if this person says, “I am a straightforward person” and there he goes, offending everyone around him. Would you consider him forthright? The fact is he is creating negative karma!

When he steps on others’ toes, fights with them, and stirs up a lot of unhappiness, isn’t he creating negative karma? This is an important issue and it explains why tactfulness is a virtue.

That said, if what you say is not what you think, you will still create negative karma in your heart, and this is when you ‘lack Yin virtue’(阴德). On the other hand, if you are forthright and utter things that create negative karma, you ‘lack Yang virtue’(阳德). Both of these virtues are indispensable.

Source: Wenda20131117A 01:21, Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program



Question: If I do not wish to partake in my office gossip, can I just say, “I’m sorry, I need to excuse myself as it just so happens that I have something to attend to”? To  make such a claim when, in reality, I have none, is it considered telling a lie?

Answer: Do not turn the situation into an embarrassing one there and then. You can keep your silence while they chat, or you may even perform recitation in your heart. If condition permits, you may leave as soon as they start to gossip.

However, if you are already inside, use soft-power in problem solving instead of being forceful as the latter will make others feel offended. It is alright to use the above excuse occasionally, but at the same time you may say this to Bodhisattva, “I wish to be more diligent in my practice of Buddhism”. In this way, Dharma Protectors will understand and you will not be punished.

Source: Master Jun Hong Lu’s Discourse (Question 338), 7 October 2019


Timing, Attitude, Tone, Voice, Speed – The Art of Mindful Expression


Master Jun Hong Lu:

An ancient Chinese proverb says, “To speak appropriately is wisdom; to remain silent appropriately is also wisdom” “(言而当,知也;默而当,亦知也). What this means is that speech exposes a person’s character. To speak at the right time means you have wisdom, and to remain silent at the right time is also a type of wisdom.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for some people and they make this mistake daily, only to invite endless streams of trouble for themselves. If you know the tactics of speaking, when to speak and not to speak carelessly, this is a kind of soft-power wisdom (智慧的软实力).

Ziqin (子禽) asked Mozi (墨子; a Chinese philosopher), “What’s the benefit of excessive talking?”

With exceptional wisdom, Mozi replied, “Flies and frogs produce incessant noise day and night until their mouths are dry and tired, and yet no one pays any attention to them. Conversely, take a look at the rooster. it will crow at dawn and when it does so, the world takes notice and everyone will get up early. Is there any benefit of excessive talking?”

“The key lies in expressing yourself in the opportune timing as only then can this be considered as right speech”.

Source: Master Jun Hong Lu’s World Buddhist Fellowship Meeting, Brisbane, Australia, 17 June 2018



Master Jun Hong Lu: The way a person speaks represents his level of cultivation. It is important to speak at a measured pace. What’s the point of speaking at length if others cannot understand what you are saying?

Speak slowly and let your words reach the listeners’ ears so that they can digest your message. This is what proper speaking is about. Make your communication work by using your words to touch someone’s heart. Unfortunately, many people fail to grasp this principle.

Source: Wenda20150522 10:53, Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program



Caller: Master, is there any significance to a person’s voice?

Master Jun Hong Lu: Your voice foretells your life. Many people have weird voices, so it is not a surprise that their life turns out to be unpleasant.

Caller: So, we should project a loud and clear voice so that we can alter our fate and destiny?

Master Jun Hong Lu: Of course! Wouldn’t you think that Bodhisattva’s voice is loud and clear? Take a look at some men, they sound neither like a man nor a woman. What do you think?

Caller: I see. Therefore, it is not good to sound peculiar.

Master Jun Hong Lu: Once you sound weird, you will not be able to garner the positive energy, and good things will evade you.

Caller: Therefore, in the future, during interviews and when talking to others, does it mean we should make an effort to be loud, clear and righteous?

Master Jun Hong Lu: Yes, not only must you sound righteous, you must also look at others in their eyes. This is an expression of self-confidence.

Source: Wenda20190517 38:07, Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program



Caller: Hi Master, through the recitation of Buddhist scriptures, how can we rectify our habits of speaking in a harsh and blunt manner (说话很冲,语气很绝)?

Master Jun Hong Lu: You can recite the Heart Sutra. Be more compassionate towards others, and you must always listen to your own voice. There is no way for those, who are harsh in the way they speak, to be aware of their own flaws, and hence, they will go around offending others.

Caller: That’s true!

Master Jun Hong Lu: Humans tend to only see the faults of others and not their own. When you speak offensively, all you hear is the voice of others, not your own. Hence, it is important for you to learn to listen to your own voice.

Why do you think those broadcasters are able to control their voices so well? This is because the earphones they wear allow them to hear their own voices which makes it possible for them to keep tabs on the quality of their voice such that it is a mix of soft and strong tones. When they hear their voices, they become aware of the quality of their verbal delivery, be it too strong or overly soft. Take a look at how they work at those radio stations, why do you think the hosts always have a set of earphones on their heads?

Caller : Yes.

Master Jun Hong Lu: When you’re talking, sometimes you don’t even realise what’s coming out of your mouth. It’s not surprising for those who have verbally hurt others to say, “What have I said? What! What did I say?”.

Caller: So true.

Master Jun Hong Lu: Do you understand now?

Caller: Yes, I do.

Master Jun Hong Lu: The biggest human flaw is their inability to see their own flaws. Why do you think dancers dance in front of a mirror? This is because they need to evaluate their dance moves. Imagine, there is no mirror and you are dancing all day long; not knowing what you are doing, others may even think that you are crazy. It’s important to quote examples when you explain things to others. Do you understand me?

Caller: I do. I really like your examples, Master. One example can make me understand right away.

Source: Shuohua20180803 06:50, Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program


Sprinkle Laughter and Lightness into Your Conversations



Master Jun Hong Lu: Jokes and humour are the keys to life. All that it takes is a joke to instantly dispel the tension between a disgruntled couple, you need to have wisdom for this.

Caller: Personally, I’m just terrible at speaking.

Master Jun Hong Lu: Spend more time with me, your Master, and you will become more eloquent. I’m not joking. Let me share a story from my middle school days.

There was a classmate who never cracked jokes and he always looked stern, and seemed to have no facial expressions. However, he was fond of hanging out with me, listening to my jokes and imitating what I said. All this while, he had had trouble finding a girlfriend, but things started to change when he slowly acquired my humorous skill. He managed to find a girlfriend, started a family, and everything fell into place.

Humour is a potent antidote, a reflection of one’s true nature. Individuals who are humorous are highly intelligent. As for those lowly people, humour never comes easy to them.  Take a look at such individuals, they are just good at being mean and lowly with their words (他就会说那些下流话).

Source: Wenda20160311 01:34:39, Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program 


Put Yourself In The Listener’s Shoes


Master Jun Hong Lu: Let me share with you something that will appeal to young people. Young individuals are full of energy and vitality. Why do many older people struggle in terms of forging a good relationship with their children? It’s often because they fail to understand the young ones, and this is how the generation gap arises.

You must know that if you do not speak from young people’s perspective, they will never be able to accept the wisdom of the older generation. In fact, the wise will put themselves in the listener’s shoes during a conversation. Say for example, you are 25 years old, when I speak to you, I will make myself as if I am your peer.  

This is why when Bodhisattvas go about helping sentient beings to become spiritually awakened, They will be very targeted in Their quest and will take on whatever form that is necessary for Them to share the dharma. This is like having something in hand that matches exactly with what the other party needs.

Source: Master Jun Hong Lu’s Discourse to Young Buddhist Friends, 6 February 2012


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