“Do not speak – unless it improves on silence.”
There is more than one way to look at this. One way it may be saying we should not speak, unless our words will help there be more silence by telling others to stay quiet. Another way to look at it is that we should not speak unless our words are better than silence. We should think without duality and therefore both of these perspectives are true.
We can spread the word of staying silent unless our words are better than silence. We have two ears and one mouth as we should listen twice as much as we talk. Not only will this help us be more compassionate to others, but it will be a good practice of zen. Too often we are not listening to others, and instead we are “waiting to talk”. That is not listening. We need to listen without opinions, without preconceptions, without judgement. We need to listen without coming up with a solution to the other person’s problems. In this way will we be more compassionate and become great listeners. Listen with all of ourselves.
Unless our words are better than silence. That reminds us to be more mindful of our words, to think before we speak, and to have something to say. We should always practice choosing our words more carefully. Anyone can babble endlessly, use curse words, and speak badly of others. But it takes control, discipline, compassion, and mindfulness, to be able to speak kindly, with succinct clarity, and without curse.