Is there wrong speech when I don’t do what I say?

Right speech is a path factor of the Noble Eightfold Path and it is beneficial to train in wholesome speech.  Right Speech (sammā-vācā) is defined as follows:

  • musāvāda veramaṇī: abstain from false speech, lying;
  • pisuṇāya vācāya  veramaṇī: abstain from slanderous speech, malicious speech, divisive tale-bearing speech that incites one against another;
  • pharusāya vācāya  veramaṇī: abstain from rude or harsh talk; and
  • samphappalāpā veramaṇī: abstain from idle or useless chatter, foolish babble, vain talk or gossip.

Of course it is wholesome to fulfill what one says will be done but there are situations that is not totally in ones’ control which prevent the execution of the promise.  When you try to follow up on a promise but circumstances prevent its completion, the promise made is not made with wrong speech.  For example, when you fall asleep while writing a promised email, the inability to write the text does not mean that you intentionally failed to keep your promise but your tiredness didn’t permit you to finish the email.  You did not fail to keep your promise because your intention to write the email was present.  

Please watch out for self blame where none is warranted.  And even if you perceive a fault in your character, forgive yourself so that you can learn to forgive others; this is the Dhamma, the path to liberation from suffering and the experience of happiness.

We are only human, imperfect beings in an imperfect world.  Give others and oneself a break, don’t expect perfection where none exist.  Hold the intention to cause no harm and be kind, and accept with equanimity what we cannot change.  Patience is the greatest eradicator of defilements, the Buddha taught, and when combined with loving-kindness our path then is sufficient in managing the hurdles of living in the world and dealing with the egoic personality.  The more we surrender to the Dhamma the freer and happier we are.