Before You Speak: The Three Gates

be less stressed Aug 31, 2022


Before You Speak: The Three Gates 

August 31, 2022 

There is an ancient wisdom saying: 

"Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates:
     at the first gate, ask your self, 'Is it true?' 
     at the second gate ask, 'Is it necessary?'
     at the third gate ask, 'Is it kind?'"

These 3 questions, or gates if you will, -- can be asked before our words leave our mouth. We all know that the energy and impact of words, once spoken, can never really be called back.

It can take 2 - 30 seconds and, with practice, your heart and gut will tell you if you should talk … or hit the pause button.

Indeed, the Three Gates does take awareness and practice. And years of practice has taught me the value of The Three Gates. When the words we speak -- pass through these Three Gates -- we have made a wonderful and loving contribution to connecting and contributing to a relationship, with a partner, family member, friend, or stranger.

Oh yes, I still catch myself on occasion -- and observe my words did NOT pass one of these three questions. And this is how I learn. This is how we all learn from childhood to adults. We make mistakes, we learn, and we move forward.  

I know this ancient wisdom of The Three Gates is often attributed to Rumi, or to the Sufi's, or to Socrates. With research, I have not been able to confirm the truth of any of these attributions. There are other attributions -- and none that I have found have been authenticated.

How ironic!  I am writing a Blog on the Three Gates, and I cannot confirm the Truth of the historical author of this saying!!

That said, I do KNOW in my heart, personally, that when what I say passes through these Three Gates … I am on the path to communicating with authenticity, service, and lovingkindness.  

Let's explore what it means to pass through the Three Gates. 

  1. Is it True?   In this new world of 'fake news,' and the internet, how do you know what is True? I do not have a clear answer, myself. There are the obvious filters of hearsay and 'gossip'. We all know that there are at least 2 or 3 or 6 sides to every conversation, situation, and relationship. We know that firsthand witness accounts are often not precise or accurate. So what is the Truth? I believe we each have to decide this for ourselves. We each must answer the question for ourselves -- Do I believe it to be True -- do I KNOW it to be True? 

  2. Is it Necessary or Useful?  Wow … this is a series of questions about why it is important to say something -- either for yourself or for the other person. Do you simply need to vent... why now... to this person... and how does it really serve you or them? May be it does. No judgement from my side. How does it serve the other person? Is it the right time, the right situation, the right environment? What meaningful purpose does it serve? Or will it stir up the waters and add to fuel to the fire? You decide. 

  3. Is it Kind? The words we choose are important. Can we find the words that are loving and supportive -- that are constructive and serving the person and the greater good? Can we find the words to deliver the message in a way that is not embarrassing or wounding or angry? In my experience, this is the most challenging and important question. 

So, whatever thought may have popped into our mind, only allow the words to pop out of our mouth if  they make it through the Three Gates. If the thought does not meet any one of these tests, stay silent and move on. This process is not complicated and may take only a few seconds of quick reflection.  

The practice of before we speak, ask yourself there 3 questions, brings echoes of the wisdom of don Miguel Ruiz’s internationally acclaimed book, “The Four Agreements.”  I love the exquisite simplicity of this book which I revisit every year  and has a byline, “A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. The First Agreement is " Be Impeccable with Your Word."  What does impeccable mean? Here is his answer:

" Being impeccable with your word is
  the correct use of your energy;
  it means to use your energy
  in the direction of truth and love for yourself." 

The echoes I hear are : truth, energy and love. The chapter, "Be Impeccable With Your Word,"  goes on to explore the impact of words, with historical political references, stories of parenting and imprints on children, as well as the damages of gossiping.  

The simple, and challenging, practice of Before We Speak: The Three Gates is ancient wisdom which helps us translate being impeccable with our words into our daily practice. 

Words matter. This I believe. This I KNOW. 

Till next time, 

 May you laugh often and be happy now,  Alison 



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