Thoughts from Reverend Helan of Redding Zen Priory.
Refraining False speech is unhealthy. Refraining from false speech is healthy. (MN 9) Abandoning false speech, one dwells refraining from false speech, a truth-speaker, one to be relied on, trustworthy, dependable, not a deceiver of the world. One does not in full awareness speak falsehood for one’s own ends or for another’s ends or for some trifling worldly end. (DN 1) One practices thus: “Others may speak falsely, but I shall abstain from false speech.” (MN 8) When one knows covert speech to be true and correct but unbeneficial, one should try not to utter it. (MN 139) The main thing to look at when deciding if it is appropriate to speak or not is whether what you are saying is likely to be beneficial. Yes, it is important to speak the truth, but even when something is true it may not always be helpful to say it. By beneficial what is meant is, will it help a person move away from what is unhealthy and point them toward what is healthy? If so, then by all means speak up; if not, try to keep silent. Be careful what you whisper to others, making sure it is not a subtle form of false speech. Even if what you are saying is true, the fact that it is spoken in secret or covertly suggests there may be something about it unsuited to the light of day. Better to speak only what can be said openly whenever possible. Just ask yourself as you are about to speak: *Is this helpful? Will this contribute in a beneficial way?*