Be Impeccable With Your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

This is the first agreement from the book Four Agreements: A Practical guide to personal freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz. How apt it is. We should do this agreement with ourselves. Simple. Is it not? But look dispassionately how we speak in a day. Not only what we say aloud but what thoughts enter our mind. Are they in the direction of truth and love?

Imagine a situation when you are seeking your significant other. You always try to show best version of yourself so that you can impress the significant other and win him /her over to you. When you put your best version out there sometimes you glorify your achievements, your polish your looks and so on and so forth. Are you really showing yourself to your significant other in those wooing days? What happens if your significant other finds out certain small lies in the picture you have created of yourself in other’s mind?

One of my friends writes poems. Many a times he shares with me his creative output.  his poems are really good. Other day he sent me a new poem. The poem was not that good as I expected from him. But I told him – it is really a good poem. We are old friends – so criticism of the poem would not have taken badly by my friend. But still I chose to say otherwise than what I really meant. I understand for smooth social interactions, niceties are necessary. But in pursuit of niceties sometimes we lose our touch with reality/ truth. What do you think?

Many a times husbands face a question from their wives- “ How I am looking?” Especially when you are going out to a party/ function/social gathering. What answer do you give? Is it truthful or loving?

What is truth? Very difficult to define? Is it not?

So, when Don Miguel Ruiz exhorts to use the power of word in the direction of truth and love, I think if you speak with love, it will take care of everything. When you are interacting with anyone -be it spouse, child, boss, friend, colleague, if you keep in mind that the interaction you will make will be loving one, I am sure you will be on way to strengthen the bond with that person.

Probably this is truer when you are talking to yourself. Most of the times we judge ourselves harshly, criticize our failures, shortcomings. Can we look at ourselves lovingly? Can we talk to ourselves with love? So next time when you catch yourself judging or criticizing- stop, take a pause and see the situation. This does not mean that you do not learn lessons from your failures/ shortcomings. But this means that you are learning the lessons in a loving way. Tell me how do you practice this- “Using the power of word in the direction of truth and love.”

I am reminded about a Zen story which illustrates the power of words. The story is as follows.( Reproduced here from

A tough, brawny samurai once approached a Zen master who was deep in meditation. Impatient and discourteous, the samurai demanded in his husky voice so accustomed to forceful yelling, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.”

The Zen master opened his eyes, looked the samurai in the face, and replied with a certain scorn, “Why should I answer to a shabby, disgusting, despondent slob like you? A worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything? I can’t stand you. Get out of my sight. I have no time for silly questions.”

The samurai could not bear these insults. Consumed by rage, he drew his sword and raised it to sever the master’s head at once.

Looking straight into the samurai’s eyes, the Zen master tenderly declared, “That’s hell.”

The samurai froze. He immediately understood that anger had him in its grip. His mind had just created his own hell—one filled with resentment, hatred, self-defense, and fury. He realized that he was so deep in his torment that he was ready to kill somebody.

The samurai’s eyes filled with tears. Setting his sword aside, he put his palms together and obsequiously bowed in gratitude for this insight.

The Zen master gently acknowledged with a delicate smile, “And that’s heaven.”

“Why do we embroider everything we say with special emphasis, when all we really need to do is simply say what needs to be said. Of course, the fact is that there is very little that needs to be said.” Charles Bukowski.