How You Speak

“Bhikkhus, there are these three kinds of persons found existing in the world. What three?

The one whose speech is like dung,

the one whose speech is like flowers,

and the one whose speech is like honey.

(1) “And what, bhikkhus, is the person whose speech is like dung? Here, if he is summoned to a council, to an assembly, to his relatives’ presence, to his guild, or to the court, and questioned as a witness thus: ‘So, good man, tell what you know,’ then, not knowing, this person says, ‘I know,’ or knowing, he says, ‘I do not know’; not seeing, he says, ‘I see,’ or seeing, he says, ‘I do not see.’ Thus he consciously speaks falsehood for his own ends, or for another’s ends, or for some trifling worldly end. This is called the person whose speech is like dung.

(2) “And what is the person whose speech is like flowers? Here, if he is summoned to a council, to an assembly, to his relatives’ presence, to his guild, or to the court, and questioned as a witness thus: ‘So, good man, tell what you know,’ then, not knowing, this person says, ‘I do not know,’ or knowing, he says, ‘I know’; not seeing, he says, ‘I do not see,’ or seeing, he says, ‘I see’; he does not consciously speak falsehood for his own ends, or for another’s ends, or for some trifling worldly end. This is called the person whose speech is like flowers.

(3) “And what is the person whose speech is like honey? Here, some person, having abandoned harsh speech, abstains from harsh speech. He speaks such words as are gentle, pleasing to the ear, and lovable, as go to the heart, are courteous, desired by many, and agreeable to many. This is the person whose speech is like honey.

“These, bhikkhus, are the three kinds of persons found existing in the world.”

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Source: Gūthabhāṇī Sutta AN 3.28 AN i 127
Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi
https://suttacentral.net/an3.28

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