Author Topic: Right Speech question  (Read 1038 times)

Offline HexBasedReality

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Right Speech question
« on: March 09, 2017, 05:18:48 pm »
Hello FreeSangha,

I'm a beginner (only have been reading about two weeks, what an amazing discovery as a former Catholic / atheist) and I have a question for you all. I understand that Right Speech means to abstain from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from idle chatter. I agree with all of that.

But does this only mean the intent of speech, or the actual words used? I ask because as I have started becoming more aware of how I speak, I frequently curse/swear out of habit, even if it's not in frustration or anger. I'm trying to clean this up, but of course it takes some time to break a habit. If one were to use a word you can't say on television, but in jest, or just out of habit, or in a song, does that technically fall under abusive speech / idle chatter?

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Right Speech question
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2017, 06:30:04 pm »
Hello FreeSangha,

I'm a beginner (only have been reading about two weeks, what an amazing discovery as a former Catholic / atheist) and I have a question for you all. I understand that Right Speech means to abstain from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from idle chatter. I agree with all of that.

But does this only mean the intent of speech, or the actual words used? I ask because as I have started becoming more aware of how I speak, I frequently curse/swear out of habit, even if it's not in frustration or anger. I'm trying to clean this up, but of course it takes some time to break a habit. If one were to use a word you can't say on television, but in jest, or just out of habit, or in a song, does that technically fall under abusive speech / idle chatter?

Someone asked Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche why he didn't participate in forums like this one.  He responded with a thumbs-down and said "Idle Chatter".

People often spend a lot of time discussing swearing, harsh or divisive speech, but seem to ignore idle chatter.  Thats ok, I don't  place much importance on it myself.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2017, 08:35:58 pm by IdleChater »

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Right Speech question
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2017, 06:30:56 am »
Quote
HexBasedReality:  "I ask because as I have started becoming more aware of how I speak, I frequently curse/swear out of habit, even if it's not in frustration or anger. I'm trying to clean this up, but of course it takes some time to break a habit. If one were to use a word you can't say on television, but in jest, or just out of habit, or in a song, does that technically fall under abusive speech / idle chatter?


One type of speech not listed is gossip.  Another broad category Buddha added for the instruction of his Bhikkhus cited in his suttas was "any type of speech which wasted valuable time, which should be totally devoted to unbinding and release from this samsaric realm in which we are trapped.

As for my own personal practice, I try to think before I act especially with my mouth.  In this way I can relate to your comment above.   Particularly when I get angry, or upset with someone, it becomes very difficult for me to speak without being hurtful, respectful, or unkind to the person or situation to which I am reacting.  I often get into my defensive and irate mode and turn to one-upsmanship, and begin to cast quips and barbs.  The worst verbal mode for me, I think, is when I get into a passive-aggresive mode and slink away to pout, to contemplate how to achieve the superior moral ground.

So, how to correct all of this absurdity and stupidity? :  One sentence at a time.  One event at a time.  Begin with apologies.  Realize that we are not the same person from one mind moment to the next mind moment.  Think about how we could have done better.  Make a plan and then implement the plan.  See how it turned out for us and the ones with whom we are interacting, and then make another plan to improve even more the next time.

Buddha addressed this method in his discussion with his son, Rahula:  "Reflecting As If in a Mirror:"  Source:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.061.than.html

Quote
"What do you think, Rahula: What is a mirror for?"

"For reflection, sir."

"In the same way, Rahula, bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions are to be done with repeated reflection.

"Whenever you want to do a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I want to do — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Would it be an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful bodily action with painful consequences, painful results, then any bodily action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction... it would be a skillful bodily action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then any bodily action of that sort is fit for you to do.

"While you are doing a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I am doing — is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it.

"Having done a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I have done — did it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Was it an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful bodily action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, reveal it, lay it open to the Teacher or to a knowledgeable companion in the holy life. Having confessed it... you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction... it was a skillful bodily action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then you should stay mentally refreshed & joyful, training day & night in skillful mental qualities.

"Whenever you want to do a verbal action, you should reflect on it: 'This verbal action I want to do — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Would it be an unskillful verbal action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful verbal action with painful consequences, painful results, then any verbal action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction... it would be a skillful verbal action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then any verbal action of that sort is fit for you to do.

"While you are doing a verbal action, you should reflect on it: 'This verbal action I am doing — is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful verbal action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it.

"Having done a verbal action, you should reflect on it: 'This verbal action I have done — did it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Was it an unskillful verbal action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful verbal action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, reveal it, lay it open to the Teacher or to a knowledgeable companion in the holy life. Having confessed it... you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction... it was a skillful verbal action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then you should stay mentally refreshed & joyful, training day & night in skillful mental qualities.


"Whenever you want to do a mental action, you should reflect on it: 'This mental action I want to do — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Would it be an unskillful mental action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful mental action with painful consequences, painful results, then any mental action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction... it would be a skillful mental action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then any mental action of that sort is fit for you to do.

"While you are doing a mental action, you should reflect on it: 'This mental action I am doing — is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful mental action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it.

"Having done a mental action, you should reflect on it: 'This mental action I have done — did it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Was it an unskillful mental action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful mental action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should feel distressed, ashamed, & disgusted with it. Feeling distressed, ashamed, & disgusted with it, you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction... it was a skillful mental action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then you should stay mentally refreshed & joyful, training day & night in skillful mental qualities.


I don't know about you, because you didn't mention it in your post, but one other thing I have noticed about myself is that I don't do well interacting with others when I am tired.  When I am tired I get cranky like a baby.  So, I try to take frequent naps when I notice that I am getting testy.

In any event, welcome to FreeSangha.  Great topic.  You are showing great honesty and sincerity with your question.  Keep up the great work.   :hug:
« Last Edit: March 10, 2017, 07:20:38 am by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Right Speech question
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2017, 10:13:33 am »
Something else you see online is Buddhism being treated as a self-improvement regimen.  Getting back on what I was trying to say in my earlier post, it seems like there are a lot of people out there who treat the N8FP as a bunch of thou shalt nots. Nothing wrong, per se, but in the real world it doesn't seem to play out that way.

What you don't see in real-world sanghas is enforcement or endorsement of the N8FP.  No one is taking the role of Right Speech Cop, or right anything.  The idea seems to be that practice is what's really important.  Meditation practice.  It seems to me that as practice grows, the N8FP manifests in a natural way - natural, as opposed to contrived.

The Buddha didn't sit down , one day, and decide that today he would be enlightened.  That took some time.  Contrived enlightenment isn't enlightenment at all.  I think the same should be said about things like the N8FP.  You can watch what you say, pick your job more carefully, be more skillful in action, and so on, but anyone can do that.  If this is a product of self, then it's really not the Path and will not provide benefit, except that others will think you're a nice guy and that's not the point.

We have no record of the Buddha actually "practicing" the N8FP prior to his enlightenment, so it's safe to say that the N8FP  isn't the only path to realization.  In fact, it could be said that it's actually a product of enlightenment and not the other way around.

Just a thought.....

Offline HexBasedReality

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Re: Right Speech question
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2017, 07:17:24 pm »
I thought about this, and you are right. I think that would ultimately mean intent. But it doesn't matter. I was approaching the eightfold path as a set of rules to apply rather than to integrate and internalize. Approaching this as a westerner, that was my first inclination, but I see it's more about guidance than about applying rules/law.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Right Speech question
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2017, 10:10:19 pm »
One last thought:  Know your audience.  What works for men doesn't necessarily work with women.  What works for women doesn't always work for littel girls, especially your daughters.  What works for little girls doesn't necessarily work for little boys.

AND, what works for some Buddhist traditions doesn't necessarily work for others.  The same with cultures.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Right Speech question
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2017, 11:42:37 pm »
One last thought:  Know your audience.  What works for men doesn't necessarily work with women.  What works for women doesn't always work for littel girls, especially your daughters.  What works for little girls doesn't necessarily work for little boys.

AND, what works for some Buddhist traditions doesn't necessarily work for others.  The same with cultures.

Traditions don't attain enlightenment.  All a tradition can do is point the way.  Humans become enlightened.  If something works for one person can work fdr another, regardless of what tradition they adhere to. So if a Theravedin decides to pursue Vajrayana practice, more power to him.  That person can do yidam practice and still be a Theravedin.  However, if traditon gets in the way of enlightenment, it becomes an impediment.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Right Speech question
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2017, 05:58:01 am »
What The Buddha did do is to gauge his dhamma lessons and responses to his audience.  For example he spoke to laypersons in terms of their experience:  farmers would be given lessons in terms of tools, plants, and animals with which they were familiar.  Bhikkhus would be spoken to in accordance with their experience within the sangha's culture.  You and I are writing to each other in the English language.  In this forum we gear our responses to that of beginners, and etc.

I hope my meaning is clear.

We are not addressing "enlightenment" here.  We are responding to a beginner's question as to "right speech". :namaste:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Right Speech question
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2017, 08:31:08 am »
What The Buddha did do is to gauge his dhamma lessons and responses to his audience.  For example he spoke to laypersons in terms of their experience:  farmers would be given lessons in terms of tools, plants, and animals with which they were familiar.  Bhikkhus would be spoken to in accordance with their experience within the sangha's culture.  You and I are writing to each other in the English language.  In this forum we gear our responses to that of beginners, and etc.

I hope my meaning is clear.

We are not addressing "enlightenment" here.  We are responding to a beginner's question as to "right speech". :namaste:

Are you talking about traditions or people, Ron?

Your previous post you talk about somthing not working for traditions, the, in you next post you talk about a person.  WtF?

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Right Speech question
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2017, 09:43:48 am »
Quote
Idle Chater:  "Are you talking about traditions or people, Ron?

Your previous post you talk about somthing not working for traditions, the, in you next post you talk about a person.  WtF?"

I am talking about individuals and individuals within groups.  For example, when a teacher addresses colleagues he speaks at a level that colleagues would understand.  When he addresses students, he speaks at a level that students would understand given their educational level. 

If you were addressing a given topic to someone within your tradition, you could speak to things that someone outside of your tradition would not understand.

By the way, it is WTF, Over!..if you were a member of the military, or a past member of the military.  Or.  Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot.  Over!
 :wink1:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Right Speech question
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2017, 11:17:18 am »
Quote
Idle Chater:  "Are you talking about traditions or people, Ron?

Your previous post you talk about somthing not working for traditions, the, in you next post you talk about a person.  WtF?"

I am talking about individuals and individuals within groups.  For example, when a teacher addresses colleagues he speaks at a level that colleagues would understand.  When he addresses students, he speaks at a level that students would understand given their educational level.
 

Ok, but so what.  This isn't about someone's capacity to understand somethin.  This is supposed to be about Right Speech.  Further, the OP seems to understand what I was trying to share, so it would seem I was close to the mark for him/her.

What you posted recently isn't about that.  In fact, I think you may be exhibiting some passive aggressive behavior over your feeling on what I posted.  What I posted was in line with the OP and the direction you want to take us isn't.  That is not Right Speech.  Attempting to avoid confrontation by using a PA technique is not, in the spirit of things, Right Speech

Trungpa Rinpoche taught that Buddhism was about being, or becoming a genuine human being.  That may not fit with the teaching of your particular tradition, but that doesn't mean a damned thing, because Trungpa was Right about that.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Right Speech question
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2017, 10:27:01 pm »
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idle chater:  "Trungpa Rinpoche taught that Buddhism was about being, or becoming a genuine human being.  That may not fit with the teaching of your particular tradition, but that doesn't mean a damned thing, because Trungpa was Right about that."

Did Trungpa Rinpoche teach you that being overly defensive regarding your posts is "Right Speech"?  Honestly, wouldn't it be a better approach to communicate in such a way as to create harmony rather than discord?

The examples I provided were for the OP, not for you.  He is the beginner. You, according to your reports are more advanced in your practice.  His tea cup is not nearly as full as yours.

My replies to you were provided in response to your questions.

Speaking of PA, have you noticed that when board members share personal information with you that you use that information to cause harm, to win your arguments and debates rather than to share information?  Or is this just you attempting to stir up a "pissing contest", I believe you called it.  Is that an example of right speech that Trungpa Rinpoche taught you as well?

If so, no need to engage with me.  I don't enjoy debating, nor arguments, nor pissing contests, if you remember, and am satisfied to simply provide information, which I have found to be helpful in my own practices.  In this case I was providing examples to a beginner, in The Biggner's Forum.  Save the rancor for others in your own tradition, who seem to enjoy it as much as you do.  I don't, and I don't think it appropriate for this forum.   :hug:
« Last Edit: March 11, 2017, 10:34:51 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline francis

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Re: Right Speech question
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2017, 12:51:16 am »
Well said Ron.

"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Right Speech question
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2017, 08:23:49 am »
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idle chater:  "Trungpa Rinpoche taught that Buddhism was about being, or becoming a genuine human being.  That may not fit with the teaching of your particular tradition, but that doesn't mean a damned thing, because Trungpa was Right about that."

Did Trungpa Rinpoche teach you that being overly defensive regarding your posts is "Right Speech"?  Honestly, wouldn't it be a better approach to communicate in such a way as to create harmony rather than discord?

Uhhhh no.  did your teacher intruct you to be passive aggressive?

Quote
The examples I provided were for the OP, not for you.  He is the beginner. You, according to your reports are more advanced in your practice.  His tea cup is not nearly as full as yours.

Well according to your posts, you are something of an expert, yourself, so ....

How was my post unsuitable for his reading?

Quote
Speaking of PA, have you noticed that when board members share personal information with you that you use that information to cause harm, to win your arguments and debates rather than to share information?

Well, Ron, if you post it, it's public, and can and should be used.  If it's none of my business, then don't post it.  If you don't want your ideas or statements commented on or challenged, don't post them.

Quote
Is that an example of right speech that Trungpa Rinpoche taught you as well?

You should know that

Quote
I don't enjoy debating, nor arguments, nor pissing contests, if you remember, and am satisfied to simply provide information, which I have found to be helpful in my own practices.

Well, Ron, you do seem to engage in it often enough .....

Quote
Save the rancor for others in your own tradition, who seem to enjoy it as much as you do.

Is it safe to assume that posting disrepectful, aspursions about other traditions, traditions you know nothing about, is also an instruction from your teacher?

Or do you use such things to simply get a rise out of someone and come by that naturally?

Theraveda may not be my cup of tea but I never disrespect it.

If you don't want to engage in pissing contests, best to keep things zipped up, dontcha think?
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 12:57:04 pm by IdleChater »

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Right Speech question
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2017, 08:46:34 pm »
Quite right.  Let's move this personal discussion elswhere.  Send me a PM and I will respond to you and leave the beginners out of our personal issues.

What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

 


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