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"Whenever possible, be kind. It is ALWAYS possible."

I'm liking this, thanks Mod; coincidentally, today my practice is watching Right Speech...

ShoshinLonely_TravellerDhammaDragonKeromeCinorjer
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Comments

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited December 2016

    "Whenever possible, be kind. It is ALWAYS possible."

    I guess like most things it takes practice....

    "Tis easy to wear a smile and be pleasant when ones life flows along like a sweet song-But a person worthwhile is the one who can 'still' wear a smile, when things in their life go all wrong"

    ~Goenka~

    ......and practice makes perfect and perfect practice makes perfect practice...

    Um......But what is kindness ?

    Can harsh words also be kind words ? ie, "Right Speech"

    I would not say to another anything that I would not like said back to me...In other words I refrain from harsh speech, for the simple reason, in the past if said to me would back then have made "me" feel quite uncomfortable ...

    Taking into account that this "I" consists of the five aggregates (just like all the other "I"s floating around ), so if the vibration of harsh sounds (or in the online forum sense "visual words" ) causes a disturbance to this karmic bundle of vibrating energy flux, (sense of a self) they will no doubt cause the same kind of disturbance in other sense of selves....

    Hence why this "I" chooses to refrain from harsh speech (even if its use might help to get ones point across ........there are ALWAYS better/kinder/gentler ways )...

    I should point out that this "I" no longer takes things too personally, but this does not mean that "I" would use harsh words when dealing with others..."I" know full well how disturbing they can be...

    At times "I" might be a little tempted to give someone a taste of their own medicine so to speak (pun intended) but better judgement has taught me not to stoop so low :)

    I guess this comes from years of practising patience

    But as the ol' saying goes Different spoke for different folk :) whatever flaps ones tongue floats ones raft.... :winky: :)

    Lonely_TravellerDhammaDragonCinorjer
  • I've been reflecting on this issue with regards to the online forum for the past week or so. One of the things about Right Speech on an online forum is the challenge of tone and language skill.

    I have the impression that not everyone who writes on this blog is a native English speaker. And some non-native English speakers are very competent in English from a technical sense but the words may come across differently than the intention. I speak a couple of other languages and when I was most fluent I sounded more native than I was so the expectation was high that I emotionally connected with the words in a way that I didn't because it was a 2nd or 3rd language. My intention was soft but it sometimes came across as hard - just because my 'social language skill' wasn't as good as my technical skill.

    There's also the issue of onomatopoeia where a word sounds hard but the context is soft.

    Some examples are:

    • 'It smacks of...'. The word 'smack' starts soft and ends hard and is often associated with corporal punishment.
    • 'I don't care what others think - that's their problem'. It's technically correct but sounds dismissive, harsh. And if it's on the blog and in reference to a previous comment, it gives the impression that a person's feelings are inconsequential and irrelevant.

    My impression is that when these words are used, the tone gets escalated and it starts to feel a bit antagonised and hostile.

    I hope that the above is useful for triggering a thoughtful discussion about Right Speech in a contemporary arena and hope that no-one's offended or hurt by what I've written. Apologies if I've crossed a line somewhere.

    lobsterCinorjerkarasti
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Samsara Loop Veteran
    edited December 2016

    On his book recording the dialogue with HH the Dalai Lama, psychologist Paul Ekman discusses constructive anger.
    In the evolutionary survival kit, anger has been a useful emotion to deter people from overstepping boundaries.
    In Buddhist no-self terminology, we may question the purpose of boundaries as an ego-perpetuating behaviour, but in the conventional nama-rupa reality, this seemingly obnoxious emotion has been instrumental for our survival.

    This tiny excerpt by the Dalai Lama is pretty interesting, so I provide the link:
    http://www.paulekman.com/blog/constructive-anger/

    "There is a famous story in the Buddhist texts about a Bodhisattva.
    This story seems to suggest an interesting take on the question, How can there be a compassion-motivated anger? The story is there is a Bodhisattva who is traveling on a boat. There is also a mass murderer on the boat and the Bodhisattva finds out that this person is going to kill all the other passengers. After failing to persuade the potential murderer to desist from what he is planning to do, he kills the mass murderer. The idea is that the Bodhisattva has full compassion for this potential murderer, but at the same time total disapproval of the act that he was about to commit. He has compassion for the mass murderer but anger against the act he is about to perform."

    There is also a sutta where the Buddha is quoted as stating that sometimes a seemingly unskillful tone can be used when adressing people and Right Speech is not totally consistent with the situation at hand.
    In the Snake Sutta, the Buddha expressed himself really strongly at a deluded bikkhu:
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.022.nypo.html

    And though the Buddha advocated the eradication of strong emotions, he did not decry all forms of sharp response.
    In the Aranavibhanga Sutta (MN 139), he points out that sometimes there is room for sharp speech:

    "When one knows overt sharp speech to be untrue, incorrect and unbeneficial, one should on no account utter it. When one knows overt sharp speech to be true, correct and unbeneficial, one should try not to utter it. But when one knows overt sharp speech to be true, correct and beneficial, one may utter it, knowing the time to do so."

    lobster
  • @DhammaDragon I hear you but it's one thing for HHDL to do it and another for the rest of us to apply this principle. It takes a great amount of skill to enact it. I can't help but wonder if this type of action is better done in person where we see how a person means it and where a relationship is solid and trusting rather than in cyberspace where the nuances of body languages are lost and people come and go.

    Can you give us some clues as to how we can tell the difference on the blog between someone being harsh, dismissive and ungenerous (anger with hatred - which HHDL is against) and angry speech as you describe?

    person
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Samsara Loop Veteran
    edited December 2016

    I would advise you to read Paul Ekman's book "Emotional Awareness," @Tiddlywinds, for more context.

    We may sometimes be wrong in our appraisal of certain situations, but Literary Criticism, Psychology, History of Art, to name a few domains, teach us that many emotions can be garnered from a single quotation, picture or piece of music.

    person
  • I'm familiar with some of Ekman's work - aren't they mostly about facial expressions?

    If many emotions can be garnered from a single quotation, why take a harsher approach? Why not be gentle with words?

  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Samsara Loop Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @Tiddlywinds said:
    I'm familiar with some of Ekman's work - aren't they mostly about facial expressions?

    If many emotions can be garnered from a single quotation, why take a harsher approach? Why not be gentle with words?

    Paul Ekman has not written only about facial expressions and is part of HH Dalai Lama's "Mind and Life" team of scientists.
    The book I mentioned is called "Emotional Awareness" and it's not about facial expressions.

    Let's be practical here: how many nuances are there to a man coming up to you with a gun in the street?
    How many nuances are there to your boss calling you incompetent in front of the rest of the staff for a mistake you did not make?
    How many nuances are there to finding yourself in the middle of a rock concert and the hall being overtaken by terrorists?
    What would a non-harsh approach include in such situations?

  • oh, I give up.

  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Samsara Loop Veteran

    It IS important to be able to bridge theory and practice: to carry the cushion into our daily life, as I like to say.
    That's what our whole practice is about.
    But sometimes life is full of grey areas that compel us to retrain the focus, and we may find ourselves in the midst of situations where following the N8P to a tee does not work.
    We may apply our theories to our own life.
    We may strive to stick to the five precepts in our daily life.
    But the second we look aside and watch how our neighbour is minding his own garden and deciding it is not skillful enough, in my opinion, we are being judgemental.
    The non-harsh approach is the behaviour we all aspire to.
    But context and variables are also important in deciding whether they can always be applied or not.

  • Can you give us some clues as to how we can tell the difference on the blog between someone being harsh, dismissive and ungenerous (anger with hatred - which HHDL is against) and angry speech as you describe?

    Wrathful skilful speech is part of some Bodhisattvas toolkit o:)
    Just as there are conventional levels of right speech
    http://yinyana.tumblr.com/post/61010318232/speech-rite

    There are also levels of 'lying' to protect. This is the Buddhist version of the Sufi 'blameworthy'.
    http://web.archive.org/web/20041013022125/http://pages.britishlibrary.net/edjason/eight/

    When we begin to operate on this level and beyond, even severe, harsh, confrontational, angry, crazy speech etc CAN serve the good of others.

    ... until then be kind ... Iz plan. B)

    Tiddlywinds
  • @lobster, I love you!

    lobster
  • @Tiddlywinds said:
    @lobster, I love you!

    Keep up the good work ;)

    upekka
  • aw, shucks @lobster

    lobsterupekka
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I reckon Tiddlywinds and the OP are on the right track.

    @DhammaDragon said:
    On his book recording the dialogue with HH the Dalai Lama, psychologist Paul Ekman discusses constructive anger.
    In the evolutionary survival kit, anger has been a useful emotion to deter people from overstepping boundaries.

    This is perhaps true on short acquaintance with very primitive people, but I don't think it holds true today. Pretty much in all cases there are better, more friendly options for setting boundaries.

    "There is a famous story in the Buddhist texts about a Bodhisattva.

    This story seems to suggest an interesting take on the question, How can there be a compassion-motivated anger? The story is there is a Bodhisattva who is traveling on a boat. There is also a mass murderer on the boat and the Bodhisattva finds out that this person is going to kill all the other passengers. After failing to persuade the potential murderer to desist from what he is planning to do, he kills the mass murderer. The idea is that the Bodhisattva has full compassion for this potential murderer, but at the same time total disapproval of the act that he was about to commit. He has compassion for the mass murderer but anger against the act he is about to perform."

    Does the story actually demonstrate a feeling of anger, though? To me it sounds quite clinical.

    In the Aranavibhanga Sutta (MN 139), (the Buddha) points out that sometimes there is room for sharp speech:

    "When one knows overt sharp speech to be untrue, incorrect and unbeneficial, one should on no account utter it. When one knows overt sharp speech to be true, correct and unbeneficial, one should try not to utter it. But when one knows overt sharp speech to be true, correct and beneficial, one may utter it, knowing the time to do so."

    Sharp speech when the result is beneficial does not imply anger though. It implies sharp speech as a well considered tool on behalf of the speaker, which may perhaps sound unfriendly, and one must always be wary of escalation.

    Even so the Sutra implies that in many cases there is a better way to communicate than one which uses sharp speech.

    lobsterTiddlywinds
  • This reminds me of an old friend of mine, a Sergeant who used to be a basic training drill instructor for the Air Force. Nicest guy you could ever meet. Used to go over to his place for cookouts with his wife and kids. Never cussed, patient to a fault, probably practiced right speech better than most Buddhists.

    But as you probably guessed, on the job he would get in a recruit's face and yell about how the recruit was a disgrace to his Momma, his family, and his country because the recruit did a sloppy job making his bunk. That was right speech also, I think, the way he explained it to me. The Sergeant, being a professional, wasn't actually angry or obsessed about tight blankets. His job was to put the recruit into a stressful situation and teach him how to focus on the task in front of him in spite of that. That recruit might be assigned as a bomb loader on a busy flight line with the pilot yelling for you to hurry up, and would you want someone that did a sloppy job then? And if the recruit couldn't handle the stress of basic training, best to hand him his discharge papers then.

    So intention counts, I think. I know also the man took a recruit one time into his office and let him cry over a letter where his girlfriend just broke up with him, and talked him into hanging in there. And the example I'm giving is an exception. It's like yelling at a child you see darting out onto a road. You can always find exceptions

    silver
  • @cinjorjer, I love your example and wholeheartedly agree. So much depends on intention, context, who, how, when.

    This is a fabulous example of Right Speech in a contemporary setting. I often wondered about Naropa's technique of being hit on the face with a shoe. Somehow, the time and place didn't work for me but your example feels deeply connecting. Thanks!

    Cinorjer
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    But they are exceptions - the goal is to communicate in a friendly, kind and compassionate way with the people who cross our paths. That arouses the least amount of negative mind states in ourselves and other people, and so is the most beneficial overall.

    I think @Tiddlywinds point of skill in communication is very valid... I consider myself a good online communicator, but there is still a step between clear writing and truly being compassionate where I sometimes get caught out. I recognise in myself the tendency to be clinical rather than loving in speech, except when I'm making a special effort and using emoji.

    So when I look at the Dalai Lama quote "whenever possible, be kind. And it is always possible", it spurs me to take my usual writing voice and try to express more caring for others, more compassion. A key part of that is to stand back and look at how others might read what you have written. It's something I don't often do... either I am charging ahead, or I forget, or have no time.

    lobsterTiddlywindsCinorjer
  • @Kerome - the preview button is very helpful. It creates a pause and helps to see what it'll look like before pressing Post Comment.

    I had a lady at work who was really aggressive with me. I decided to put Right Speech into practice and little by little her aggression has lessened. When I went to France I bought her cheese because I knew that's what she liked. It made a huge difference to our relationship. Now we're good friends.

    I used to be very harsh with my speech but a few things helped along the way:

    • Therapy - it's amazing how much that helps.
    • Maybe/perhaps/I'm unsure - just those words soften pretty much any message
    • Meditation - we're all converts to this one so no need to clarify!
    • Dharma - ditto
    • Living in the UK - it's amazing how the Brits are so good as diffusing situations and bringing things down a notch. It's been amazing to learn from the Brits. If I take my time to listen to the words, tone etc for how to ask, and respond etc it makes a big difference. They have very good examples of how to phrase questions and answers.
    Cinorjer
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    In real life or online, do we have to know what their intention is in order for us to respond with kindness? Why should our response be dictated by what they are doing/saying?
    Another one I like that goes with the quote the OP offered is "Our prime purpose in life is to help others, and if you can't help them at least don't harm them."
    I think needing to discern the intent of a person then puts the responsibility of our reaction/speech on them rather than us. We can be kind no matter what they are doing. Kindness isn't being a doormat. Kindness is sometimes telling someone the way things are even if they don't want to hear it. But it can be done in kindness and that should not depend on what their intent or reaction is. Especially online where there is absolutely no risk of physical harm.

    CinorjerDhammaDragon
  • @karasti It's good to find ways to see where the ego is reactive. It's good to find ways to keep the tone calm too.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @Will_Baker said:
    I'm liking this, thanks Mod; coincidentally, today my practice is watching Right Speech...

    I think we do pretty well on the whole. Maybe we shouldn't second-guess ourselves so much.

    Will_Baker
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Samsara Loop Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    I reckon Tiddlywinds and the OP are on the right track.

    @DhammaDragon said:
    On his book recording the dialogue with HH the Dalai Lama, psychologist Paul Ekman discusses constructive anger.
    In the evolutionary survival kit, anger has been a useful emotion to deter people from overstepping boundaries.

    This is perhaps true on short acquaintance with very primitive people, but I don't think it holds true today. Pretty much in all cases there are better, more friendly options for setting boundaries.

    Only in the different schools of Buddhist Psychology, do we find a list of five hindrances, ten defilements, three or five poisons, and 50 kleshas.
    The list would not exist if these emotions were not as relevant to human nature today as they were when Lucy was still picking fruit from the trees.

    And I am not advocating the indulgement in afflictive emotions as a way to react to unkind behaviour.
    I'm just saying that it is within the range of possibilities in our daily interaction with other human beings.

    The term "primitive" seems to me pretty derogative, since none of us, despite our best intentions, is exempt of finding ourselves overreacting in a way that we would regret on further thought a moment later.

    It is one thing to find ourselves on a path by which we strive to find alternative ways to respond rather than react, and quite another to disown emotions which are completely human and natural for any person in any walk of life anytime.

    Responding or reacting is a choice we make every minute of our lives, as we are presented with situations in life redolent of dukkha.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @Tiddlywinds said:
    I used to be very harsh with my speech but a few things helped along the way:

    • Therapy - it's amazing how much that helps.

    Therapy can certainly help out you get in touch with your feelings, which helps

    • Maybe/perhaps/I'm unsure - just those words soften pretty much any message

    However it can also make you sound like you're dithering or uncertain, when that's not the message you want to convey... I've found in my opinion/view to be useful forms too, or for me

    • Dharma - ditto

    The dharma does help. Reading the right speech rules and trying to stick to them does raise the bar, but I think HHDL goes a bit further, to genuine kindness in speech, which is more than true/factual/beneficial

    • Living in the UK - it's amazing how the Brits are so good as diffusing situations and bringing things down a notch. It's been amazing to learn from the Brits. If I take my time to listen to the words, tone etc for how to ask, and respond etc it makes a big difference. They have very good examples of how to phrase questions and answers.

    Well... some brits... it depends where you live, and even if you live in a polite part, I've found that politeness often becomes a mask, more for forms sake than because it's what people really feel, or that it goes deeper and people don't allow themselves to feel because it would be impolite.

    It's an interesting contrast with the Netherlands, where people hold mostly to being honest first, and pleasant second. It means on the one hand you get a few more bruises, but you also get more heartful, genuinely felt interactions.

  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Samsara Loop Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    Well... some brits... it depends where you live, and even if you live in a polite part, I've found that politeness often becomes a mask, more for forms sake than because it's what people really feel, or that it goes deeper and people don't allow themselves to feel because it would be impolite.

    It's an interesting contrast with the Netherlands, where people hold mostly to being honest first, and pleasant second. It means on the one hand you get a few more bruises, but you also get more heartful, genuinely felt interactions.

    Some people may sugarcoat passive-aggressive behaviour under the guise of a meek, polite and guileless attitude.
    Ego has many ways to project itself stealthily through seemingly kind behaviour, which does not make it kinder.

    lobsterNYCRocker
  • @Kerome

    Well... some brits... it depends where you live, and even if you live in a polite part, I've found that politeness often becomes a mask, more for forms sake than because it's what people really feel, or that it goes deeper and people don't allow themselves to feel because it would be impolite.

    I understand what you mean - I live in a super 'polite' area so I'm aware of the mask often. To be honest, I find it fatiguing beyond belief in a social situation so I seldom go out because I figure it's too much effort for so little return. At work though, it makes good sense to keep things more sedate.

    Also, I'm often befuddled by the notion that it's impolite to say anything personal. Seems to me that we're both a person so it's normal to be personal.

    As I said to a colleague, if you have such bland conversation to the point where you can interchange one person for another, then fundamentally you're dismissing a person's uniqueness which for me is the ultimate in offence (that was a conversation that down like a lead balloon!).

    It's an interesting contrast with the Netherlands, where people hold mostly to being honest first, and pleasant second. It means on the one hand you get a few more bruises, but you also get more heartful, genuinely felt interactions.

    Aussies are like that too. What you see is what you get. Within a few seconds you've got a pretty good idea about what you get. You can either stay or move on but at least you know where you stand. It definitely feels more honest and open. I grew up with it so it's less fatiguing for me though I'd imagine that it'd be weird for people who are used to an alternative style of conversation. The former Commissioner for Anti-Discrimination said it like this: There's a certain cut & thrust to Australian conversation that would be deemed offensive in other cultures.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited December 2016

    It's one thing to react angrily and use 'harsh speech' when you're a Buddha.

    I don't think, if I'm thinking along the right lines, we have a Buddha here - not a fully-enlightened one, anyway.
    So until we ARE all fully-enlightened Buddhas, or we come anywhere near to the level of expertise and experience the Dalai Lama has with regard to interaction and discussion with others - particularly as we have no benefit of being face to face - I'm afraid the only brake you might have on Right Speech and Skilful interaction (other than your own measures you might put in place) - is me.

    @DhammaDRagon said: But sometimes life is full of grey areas that compel us to retrain the focus, and we may find ourselves in the midst of situations where following the N8P to a tee does not work.

    I have to disagree.
    In my experience there is not one single situation where either the 8FP OR the 5 Precepts 'do not work'.

    If something doesn't work, it is we who aren't working. The 8FP and 5 Precepts are as universal as they could possibly be and are always, but always applicable. If they're not applicable, it's we who have 'messed up'. Not they. And goodness knows, I stumble over this, every - single - day.

    TiddlywindsDhammaDragon
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Samsara Loop Veteran

    @Tiddlywinds said:
    oh, I give up.

    I think we have a case here of words not coming across as they should, culture shock, verbal misunderstanding, beffudled semantics or muddled utterance of semiology, whichever you prefer.

    When I asked you to provide me an explanation to critical situations in life on which one might hesitate to act skillfully -least of all, utter skillfull words- I was not launching an attack on you.

    I notice a tendency to polarization of debates lately, by which someone takes comments personally or feels attacked, or feels that someone should be right, or sort of seeks validation from other members.

    We are all expressing opinions and different points of view here.
    At least I am.
    When I express my point of view, I am not trying to prove you wrong nor am I trying to be right.

    upekkaSteve_B
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Samsara Loop Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @federica said:
    If something doesn't work, it is we who aren't working. The 8FP and 5 Precepts are as universal as they could possibly be and are always, but always applicable. If they're not applicable, it's we who have 'messed up'. Not they. And goodness knows, I stumble over this, every - single - day.

    That's what I meant, Fede.
    We are not Buddhas.
    We are human.
    We'll mess up many times and stray from the Precepts many times.
    A little bird told me I'm a mess with the third and with Right Speech.
    Go know...

  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    Can harsh words also be kind words ? ie, "Right Speech"
    -In the proper context, said appropriately, yes...

    DhammaDragonfedericalobster
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited December 2016

    Takes some work though. For my part, I usually 'speak' first then think afterwards. I tell you, the number of posts I've deleted before hitting 'Post Comment'...

  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @federica said:
    Takes some work though.For my part, I usually 'speak' first then think afterwards. I tell you, the number of posts I've deleted before hitting 'Post Comment'...

    -Agreed; I have the same issue. That's why my practice has watching Right Speech in its rotation. As an aside, today my practice is watching Right View. So that helps put this thread into perspective :-)

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Will_Baker said:
    Can harsh words also be kind words ? ie, "Right Speech"
    -In the proper context, said appropriately, yes...

    By whom ? (Bearing in mind this topic is in Buddhism Basics :) )

    One would think only coming from a blooming BuddhaNature would be the only true source/vehicle...

    What I find interesting is when a person says yes it's ok to use harsh words to 'correct' another person whom (I might add) 'they' feel deserves correcting by the use of harshly spoken/written words, however when the table is turned, if harsh words are used to 'correct' them (when they too make a mistake that's Samsara for ya), they tends to take it personally and more often than not, feel somewhat hurt (by the harshness of the words) and are in the habit of retaliating... "Hurt People Hurt People" and so the habitual cycle continues...

    However in saying all this thus have I heard a Buddhist friend who told me about his teacher would would use 'harsh/sharp" words directed at him, which in essence was a lesson in the Dharma, however this teacher had many years experienced in this "art"... Which reminds me of this...

    "One is simply ones experience. Ones ego is the abstraction from the experience.Ones ego should be viewed as a convenient analytic device"

    We lay people on the other hand, are riddled with ego and it would be hard to unravel ones ego from the harshness used to correct others or when used against one self...

    This BTW is my ego speaking :)

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I guess it would depend what one considers harsh words. Some people simply don't want to hear what you have to say no matter how kindly, gently, or well-meaning you are in trying to help them. They may perceive your words as harsh even if they aren't because their perception is looking at it in a way you cannot see. Sometimes you need to raise your voice and use a harsh "NO!" with a child. Used well it can prevent a child from hurting themselves or someone else. Used too often and it loses it's value. But the reasoning for the harshness matters, I think often it is impatience and frustration in which people speak harshly and that being able to do it in kindness is a bit of an art.

    ShoshinlobsterSteve_B
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited December 2016

    Even though at times adults can and do behave like children ...To use harsh words against an adult as a means of correcting them, could I've found, just add fuel to the fire...

    Disciplining a "child" with a harsh "No" to stop them from getting hurt or hurting others is one thing, but to use similar harshness on an 'equal' that is an adult , (even if you feel that they 'are' behaving like a child) can and quite often does opens up a can of worms...The feeling of being 'belittled' 'insulted' or being'patronised' comes to mind and I have found not many adults take too kindly to any of this...

    On a personal level I would have to say the use of 'skillful means' by myself would involve a more kinder approach when attempting to point out the errors of ones way...

    I'm reminded of this quote

    "The definition of insanity: Continuing to do the same thing over and over again, each time 'hoping' for a different outcome/result"

    Even though in Dharma practice it's important to just drop it but it would seem for many of us lay practitioners we are in the habit of a short term memory when it comes to learning from our mistakes...

    X begets X and harsh words/speech more often than not begets 'retaliation'.... And one has only to check out some of the old closed tit for tat threads to see this in action...

    But I guess in the long run ...it is all relative ... :)

    So damn you Dukkha and sod you Samsara.... relatively speaking :winky:

  • smarinosmarino florida Explorer
    edited December 2016

    I think between 70% and 90% of human communication is non verbal. A raised eyebrow, change of tone, a smile, a frown, stepping toward someone or leaning away, folding our arms across our chest, laughing,..... all that is missing when we just type words on a keypad. So invariably something is going to be misunderstood.

    Honestly, I don't worry about this a bit. My style is old school. I will sometimes say something that maybe shouldn't have been said if I am mad, but will apologize if I reconsider it and think I was in error and move on. I am not going to stew over every single word to figure out if it is appropriate, and I am not going to speak differently to different people. They all get the same me.

    Sometimes it doesn't work at all, but you know, that's their stuff. Some people, no matter what you do, if you say something in a manner they don't like it is going to cause problems (w/ them, not w/ me). I tend to use blunt, concrete language and abhor PC talk. I am quick tempered, outspoken, detest phonies and hypocrites, curse at times, won't suffer fools gladly and I don't love Jesus. These are just my good points. Hang around me long enough and you get to experience the bad side too :]

    ShoshinlobsterTiddlywindssilver
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @karasti said:

    One of my favorite quotes is “Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge… is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.” Bill Bullard

    @karasti It would seem the kind of behaviour we see in others (and ourselves) comes no doubt from their/our level of suffering and I guess our ability to empathise with the sufferer ( eg,I too have been there and done that) as oppose to trying to forcefully change their/our behaviour, will in itself go a long way in creating/clearing a pathway for beneficial long term self generated change to happen....

    Observing stuff on social media, I've wondered what it would be like to not share so much opinion. Part of Right Speech is speaking the truth,

    and I have found that an even greater part of "Right Speech" is the appropriateness of "silence" no doubt you have found this too...

    and how much of what we share in opinion is actually verifiable as truth?

    I've found as soon as words leave the mouth (or the tips of ones fingers) one is on the slippery slop which more often than not, leads to contradiction....

    "Everything evolves-will come to mean nothing is true!" ~Nietzsche~

    We might have thoughts on something and of course sharing things in a form of "I experienced this, and I think..." is different. But most people are going about sharing opinion just for the sake of flapping their lips. I do the same, especially on social media. It's made me wonder what it would look like for me if I stopped. So I think I'm going to try.

    Good luck with this...."Trying" is the easy part..."doing"....now that's another story....to be continued :wink: :lol:

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @smarino said:
    These are just my good points. :]

    You have good points ?...Sheer luxury for some.... :wink:

  • One would think only coming from a blooming BuddhaNature would be the only true source/vehicle...

    Sounds good.

    Most of us are fragile and prefer to have our good and bad reinforced in our interaction bubble. We reinforce our preferences, even in the 'spiritual' or dharma realm. Monkeys that live in tribes is our norm.

    Through choosing to challenge our assumptions and egoic opinions by good company, study, inspirational sangha, wise practitioners, exemplars etc and observing our own and others behavour we begin to understand ...

    We begin to learn from good, bad, soft, hard, subtleties and our growing insight.

    Want pseudo kindness? - try shopping in expensive stores. Want spiritual kindness? - find out what is being exchanged/sold ... mmm ...

    Do we want preparation for 'the Truth' or ego stroking? As I say to my ego each day, sit and STFU. I iz baddass! ;)

    DhammaDragon
  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    @Shoshin said:

    @Will_Baker said:
    Can harsh words also be kind words ? ie, "Right Speech"
    -In the proper context, said appropriately, yes...

    By whom ? (Bearing in mind this topic is in Buddhism Basics :) )

    One would think only coming from a blooming BuddhaNature would be the only true source/vehicle...

    What I find interesting is when a person says yes it's ok to use harsh words to 'correct' another person whom (I might add) 'they' feel deserves correcting by the use of harshly spoken/written words, however when the table is turned, if harsh words are used to 'correct' them (when they too make a mistake that's Samsara for ya), they tends to take it personally and more often than not, feel somewhat hurt (by the harshness of the words) and are in the habit of retaliating... "Hurt People Hurt People" and so the habitual cycle continues...

    However in saying all this thus have I heard a Buddhist friend who told me about his teacher would would use 'harsh/sharp" words directed at him, which in essence was a lesson in the Dharma, however this teacher had many years experienced in this "art"... Which reminds me of this...

    "One is simply ones experience. Ones ego is the abstraction from the experience.Ones ego should be viewed as a convenient analytic device"

    We lay people on the other hand, are riddled with ego and it would be hard to unravel ones ego from the harshness used to correct others or when used against one self...

    This BTW is my ego speaking :)

    -I suppose the parental concept of Tough Love would be one example; the child might think what is said is harsh or untrue. Your point though, is well taken...

    ShoshinCinorjerlobster
  • techietechie India Veteran

    I hate to stick out like a sore thumb, but after some reflection I have come to the conclusion that the standard buddhist idea of compassion is incomplete/impractical. I am reminded of my Muslim friend in school. He was the nicest guy in the world. There was a teacher who used to bully students, punishing them for the tiniest of mistakes. This Muslim friend said enough is enough, threw a stone at the teacher. From that day on, no student suffered at the teacher's hands. When I confronted the friend (because how could the nicest guy do such a thing), he coolly replied that he's nice to nice people, that's all. Seems perfectly logical.

    Don't get me wrong. I love the Buddha's wisdom, especially concepts like dependent origination, karma etc., but when it comes to dealing with the world realistically, I think the Islamic attitude is far more nuanced and mature: Deal with people based on what they are, not based on some airy fairy ideal. I know people will revolt against the idea, but ask one question. These students who suffered at the hands of a teacher-bully - will they thank buddhists who give wonderful advice (and not much else) or my Muslim friend who protected them with his actions?

    So my point is, there is a time and place for everything. Kindness is important, but so is human dignity. You may attack my Muslim friend for lacking compassion, but his so-called aggressive attitude gave us some dignity. I will take that over sanctimonious religious folks who wax lyrical on compassion.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited December 2016

    @grackle You obviously have absolutely no fundamental grasp or concept of what Buddhist Compassion entails.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @techie said:
    I think the Islamic attitude is far more nuanced and mature: Deal with people based on what they are, not based on some airy fairy ideal.

    I would agree with that assessment. Sufism produces far more rounded individuals than Buddhist monastic training. This is broadly because monastics are cloistered and Islamic mystics live in the world. However it is not the religion but how it is practiced and implemented that is key. I spent years training in a 'secular' Islamic Sufism, warning the 'defenders of the Islamic Faith' that the outer shell (Islam) was innapropriate and outmoded. Most will still be practicing Islam, instead of being independent of its presently unfashionable form.

    'Emptiness is form and form is emptiness' as the Mahayana heroic heretics remind us.

    The question of stone throwing at the hateful ('Hate' is one of the mystical attributes of Allah - One of His 99 Names) is covered in the wrathful masks or veils of the Buddhist practice yidams in Vajrayana.
    http://buddhaweekly.com/tantric-wrathful-deities-the-psychology-and-extraordinary-power-of-enlightened-beings-in-their-fearsome-form/

    Thanks @techie B) I am off for another day in Nirvana/Hell ( never really can differentiate ;) )

    DhammaDragon
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Samsara Loop Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @techie said:
    I think the Islamic attitude is far more nuanced and mature: Deal with people based on what they are, not based on some airy fairy ideal

    I wish lslamic terrorists attitudes could also be defined as "nuanced and mature."
    Naturally, @lobster's post reminds me once more what real Islam is like (Sufism).
    A good reminder that we can't generalize.

    And being compassionate in a Buddhist way, does not equal acting as doormat.
    I have gone through life stopping every unskillful and afflictive behaviour that crossed my path without ever needing to resort to a finger, let alone a stone.
    Improve your argument, not your hailing skills.

    lobster
  • @techie that is a terrible example. Throwing a rock at a bully in a position of power does NOT stop them from being a bully. There is a whole lot being left out of that story. So what, let's hurt or kill people we have a grudge against, and that's how we make the world a better place? As pointed out, Buddhist compassion doesn't mean standing by doing nothing when we see a wrong.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @lobster said:

    @techie said:
    I think the Islamic attitude is far more nuanced and mature: Deal with people based on what they are, not based on some airy fairy ideal.

    I would agree with that assessment. Sufism produces far more rounded individuals than Buddhist monastic training. This is broadly because monastics are cloistered and Islamic mystics live in the world. However it is not the religion but how it is practiced and implemented that is key. I spent years training in a 'secular' Islamic Sufism, warning the 'defenders of the Islamic Faith' that the outer shell (Islam) was inappropriate and outmoded.

    However, Sufism has its own downsides, in that it has a strict hierarchy of authority where one is supposed to get authorisation to practice, and ultimate power is vested in a series of bloodlines. I like Rumi very much, and it suits that they consider him a saint, but I think true spirituality should not be constrained by worldly authority.

    lobster
  • Indeed @Kerome, the Islamic Prophet in the hadith says, 'Allah has hidden those of greatest wisdom'. In other words they may be veiled from normal spiritual command chains.

    The important thing is to develop discernment not alignment or allegiance. The great saints of Sufism often live in extreme danger from narrow literalists.

    Great teachers, including the Buddha have to watch out for crucifixion, assassination (two attempts before he was finished off by a pork chop) and dissaproval for general heresy.
    http://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebdha192.htm

    The kindness we extend to our exemplars and route sources, can be extended towards other paths, normal samsara advocates and even the unkind demons of our and others entrapment ...

    ... and now back to kindly non rock throwing ...

    dhammachick
  • techietechie India Veteran

    @Cinorjer said:
    @techie that is a terrible example. Throwing a rock at a bully in a position of power does NOT stop them from being a bully. There is a whole lot being left out of that story. So what, let's hurt or kill people we have a grudge against, and that's how we make the world a better place? As pointed out, Buddhist compassion doesn't mean standing by doing nothing when we see a wrong.

    He threw the stone to frighten the bully, not hurt him. Believe it or not, bullies fear confrontation. They see compassion as weakness and take advantage of you. As I feared earlier, people on a Buddhist forum are going to be judgmental and refuse to see both sides. You may argue that Buddhist compassion doesn't mean standing idly by and doing nothing, but let's face it ... you and I both know that's what it translates to eventually. Buddhist compassion is nothing but sweet advice given to victims to tolerate bullying, or the usual pleasant-sounding platitudes (hate is quelled by love alone etc. etc.). Zero action, zero practicality. All talk.

    Sorry to be so blunt, but someone has to say it.

    DhammaDragon
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited December 2016

    The problem is not in your content. The problem is in your understanding of Compassion, and it's blatantly clear by your comments that you do not have even the remotest grasp of its concept.
    Your friend is extremely narrow-minded if he is nice to nice people. Nice people don't need Compassion. Wounded, hurt, damaged people do.
    To assault a person by throwing a stone at them is neither wise nor compassionate.
    Confrontation through Compassionate means, does not entail using physical force to stem a person's unskilful actions.

    Gandhi transformed a whole nation through ahimsa.
    Your friend could do with being taught a lesson in it.
    And you need to swot up on what compassion is, because you have no idea what Wise Compassion is, as opposed to idiot.

    Sorry to be blunt, but....

    lobsterDhammaDragondhammachick
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited December 2016

    Even without the compassion angle, throwing a stone is a poor way to confront a bully, it has very little honour. In the old days back when I was at school and long before I encountered Buddhism, I was a reluctant fighter who went by the maxim "the best battle is the one you only have to fight once", but at least I always took on my bullies face to face.

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