Taming The Two-Forked Tongue
From the Science, Psy, And Spirituality series. The Prajñā Paramita, or Heart Sutra states:
“Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara clearly perceived the emptiness of the five skandhas and transcended all suffering.”
What are the five skandhas?
In the physical human body, the sutra goes on to explain that the five skandhas are experienced as eye, ear, nose, tongue, body. The five senses.
Our topic here is the tongue, so, the tongue is one of the five skandhas.
There is also a well-articulated Western line of philosophy and self-discipline that describes the importance of taming the tongue.
James 3:6 in the Amplified Bible states:
And the tongue is [in a sense] a fire, the very world of injustice and unrighteousness; the tongue is set among our members as that which contaminates the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life [the cycle of man’s existence], and is itself set on fire by hell (Gehenna).
In a 2016 paper, Desiring foods: Cultivating non-attachment to nourishment in Buddhist Sri Lanka (]Science Direct](https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666316301428)), author WimVan Daele adds:
Food and desire are intimately entangled whereby food becomes a core tool to manage desire in fashioning oneself as a morally virtuous person. This paper looks at the ways in which Buddhist texts conceptualize human interactions with food and formulate prescriptions on how to handle food as a means of developing an attitude of non-attachment that aids in achieving nirvana—the extinguishing of desire to get released from the cycle of death and rebirth.
The particular texts — the Agañña Sutta, the Āhāra Patikūlasaññā, and the Vinaya Pitaka — exhibit an attitude of deep ambiguity towards food in its capacity to incite desire. On the one hand nutrition is required to maintain life, but on the other, food can potentially be the cause of a degenerate state of mankind and a source of moral degradation. Hence, the Buddhist development of a dispassionate attitude towards food seeks to enable both nourishment and the pursuit of the extinction of the flame of desire in nirvana. Even though the texts formulate practical prescriptions for monks on how to relate to food to aid them in their pursuit, they also serve as moral standards for lay Sinhalese Buddhists who seek to model their everyday behaviour accordingly.
So, the two forks of the tongue are [i] the capacity for hellish speech and [ii] food appetites as a greedy, sensual indulgence, rather than a means of nourishment.
Perhaps simply understanding that the human condition is, by default, afflicted by this forked-tongue; that we are not alone, that it is an affliction common to humankind; perhaps this observation can at least provide us the opportunity to observe the tongue’s true nature and behavior, and thereby gain a little better perspective from which we can choose what to do about it, for ourselves, according to the conditions of our individual journey.
- May we be happy.
- May we be healthy.
- May we be confident.
- May we be light.
- May we be love.