The root of good words (DW#602)

Yesterday we discussed verses 24 & 25 of Sura Ibrahim where the Quran compares good words to a good tree:

Have you not considered how Allah sets forth a parable of a good word (being) like a good tree, whose root is firm and whose branches are in heaven,Yielding its fruit in every season by the permission of its Lord? And Allah sets forth parables for men that they may be mindful.[Quran 14:24-25]

Today let’s deepen our understanding of this parable by exploring a narration from Imam Ali (as), where he says:

Speech is implanted in the heart and deposited in the thought, strengthened by the intellect conveyed through the tongue; its body is the letters, its soul is the meaning, its adornment is punctuation and its order is reason.

This profound saying has so many layers of meaning that it is not possible to do it justice here. For today, let us simply reflect on the process of communication.

What comes out of our mouths is not the beginning of communication. The thought and idea that we express is seeded in our hearts, watered by our thoughts and then expressed by our tongues. The root of the tree of our communication then, lies in the heart. A pure intention provides a strong root system for the tree of our communication.

What this means for us is that if we are having trouble managing our tongues, we need to go back to the root of our ideas and thoughts. We need to start with a pure intention.

If the roots of our communication are healthy, that is, if we intend to communicate to:

  • Connect
  • Build relationships
  • Share our inner world
  • Inform
  • Advise
  • Guide
  • Praise, appreciate and show gratitude

Then it will be fairly easy to learn the skills of communication. The fruits of our tree with strong roots will be nourishing and delicious.

If on the other hand, our intention is to:

  • Mislead
  • Deceive
  • Gossip
  • Be judgmental
  • Show how we are better
  • Show dissention
  • Fix others without looking at ourselves
  • Show off
  • Or any number of other unworthy intentions

Then, learning skills of communication will not bring us the connection, intimacy or happiness that we seek. The fruits of our communication will not be worthy.

So, before we open our mouths, lets pause for a moment and check in with our intention: what am I hoping to achieve through this communication? Is my intention worthy?

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