You see people sometimes trying to have right speech: ‘I’m going to vow not to talk badly about anybody! I’m not going to gossip any more. If I speak it will just be on the dhamma! I’m not going to talk about worldly things like politics and football or anything like that.’ So I make this vow before the Lord Buddha. It might work for a while. Then you have tea with the bhikkhus and they are talking in very worldly ways about what kind of cheese they like and so on, and you think, ‘I’m not going to join in with them,’ in a rather supercilious way. So you then go and sit, or read a dhamma book, or find someone who wants to talk about serious things.
You might try your very hardest to live up to this vow, but one day you lose it and start talking in foolish ways. Perhaps somebody starts criticising other people and you get caught up in your own views about them. And then suddenly you think, ‘Oh gosh, I got lost again. Here I go gossiping; saying bad things about others; being foolish. Oh, my vow!’ Then comes remorse and often feelings of despair and just hating yourself. (more…)