The Third Principle Of Clarity (Agni's Rule):

3. I will strive for clarity of words.

Words are powerful. They can be formidable tools or weapons. Right use of them should be practiced at all times in the Order. This entails walking a balance between taking care with their use, yet not censoring oneself to the point where information is hidden or repressed. Clarity in one's speech is something to strive for at all times, and clarity in speech can be reduced to the following qualities:

A) Honesty. It should go without saying that nothing that is not absolute truth should pass one's lips. Lies of omission should be carefully considered; is the kindness in holding back a true but painful comment actually more of a disservice in the long run? Does it censor valuable information that would be useful for the mindfulness-process of another? Is it entirely stripped of one's own personal agenda towards that person, or that situation? If the latter is not the case, then perhaps it should be retained until one's own inner work is done regarding the issue.

B) Straightforwardness. Such things as hints, innuendo, or vague implications should be avoided. You should say what you mean and mean what you say. You should strive to be articulate and concise in your speech. That does not mean that there is no room for poetry, but poetry too can be clear in its meaning, and clear that it is actually poetry. If one is vague and inarticulate by nature, or if one has been trained throughout life not to ask for what one actually wants, but to hint and manipulate, or if one is used to an environment where nothing is said straightforwardly and simply, then these are areas into which one should put effort.

C) Any promises that are made, even in passing, should be kept fervently. If you make a verbal commitment to do something, you should do it, or arrange to have it done if for some reason you are unable to come through. It does not matter if you are no longer enthusiastic about the promise. Commitment is more valuable than feelings in this situation. Your word - even your passing word - should be an iron bond. If you do not fully intend to do something, even if it is likely to be unpleasant, do not say that you will do it, or deliberately give implication thereof. Release from a promise should only be at the word of the person you promised it to, or if it turns out to be unethical in some way, or would violate other vows that you have taken. If the latter situation occurs, speak to your teacher, or the House elders, for advice. If you are unable to fulfill your bond, and there is no way to replace your efforts, you must do anything in your power to atone for the situation.

Clarity of words should carry over into writing as well. Every word that one speaks should have useful meaning in some way. It is not that one cannot gossip or chatter - such things are sometimes good release of tension - but plainspokenness should be striven for even at those times. When you write, think carefully about your agenda. It is acceptable to have an agenda as long as it is aboveboard, conscious, and on the table for all to see. Hidden agendas are forbidden, as they foster dishonesty and strife. The sole exception to this rule is when someone's teacher temporarily withholds information in order to make a point, and this technique should be used sparingly and wisely, and only for a very short time, and the teacher can be called upon to justify their use of it.

The most powerful words of all, of course, are names. When one joins the Order as a Branch member, one will receive a new name. You may be given the choice to choose your own new name, but if the member assigned to you as your teacher feels that it is pretentious, they may deny you the use of it, unless you can convince the House elders that you bear it by divine command. If your chosen name is not satisfactory, or if you do not have one, you will be given a name after some length of prayer and meditation by your assigned teacher. You will be known by that name for the length of your stay as a Branch member. If you decide to take vows as a Root member, you may be given a new name, or keep the one that you have been given. You may or may not be required to make it legal in the world outside the House.

We do use the terms "brother" and "sister", and it is always appropriate to be addressed by those terms. The House Mama or Papa may always be addressed appropriately by their title.

If you are a lay member, there is no reason why you cannot fully live this principle. The sole exception would be if your survival is temporarily dependent on a workplace situation where some deception is necessary in order to keep your job. In this case, use the bare minimum, and look for another job with all your might. If you cannot be honest with those close to you, you need to reevaluate your relationship with them. Dishonesty is especially out of place in a romantic or marital relationship. This is not an area in which it is acceptable to compromise.

[Order of the Horae]