Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Right speech - Idle chatter vs socializing

edited November 2010 in Buddhism Basics
I'm rather perplexed. When Buddha taught to abandon idle chatter in Right speech, does it include the lay people as well or only in monastic life?

I believe that we're social beings who find great joy in socializing and connecting with others, yet I find it contradicting with abandoning idle chatter according to Right speech.

What exactly is idle chatter? How should a lay person avoid or be careful in terms of having idle chatters out in social settings?

Comments

  • edited November 2010
    That is a very good question. I've actually wondered about that myself. I'm a pretty social person but also an introspective one. Sometimes when I'm out in a social setting i find myself wondering how much talk is too much and what is necessary to say or hold back. I'll be interested to see what people have to say about this topic.
  • ravkesravkes Veteran
    edited November 2010
    pain wrote: »
    I'm rather perplexed. When Buddha taught to abandon idle chatter in Right speech, does it include the lay people as well or only in monastic life?

    I believe that we're social beings who find great joy in socializing and connecting with others, yet I find it contradicting with abandoning idle chatter according to Right speech.

    What exactly is idle chatter? How should a lay person avoid or be careful in terms of having idle chatters out in social settings?

    Any chatter that's harmful to you or others is idle chatter but if you're being kind with your words I'd say that's not idle chatter. Just my opinion. :)

    However, if you do keep a steady meditation practice you're naturally going to gravitate to talking less and listening more. You'll have less idle chatter and respond to others with kindness and patience. It's funny, my girlfriend talks a lot and it makes her really happy when I'm just listening attentively and saying a few words here and there. You don't necessarily need to be the person chattering, those people who do chatter a lot would rather have you listen anyways haha
  • nanadhajananadhaja Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Of course we can also see idle chatter in the context of wasting time.Here I would say that applied to the monks,who would have been better off meditating rather than chatting about what they had for breakfast.Today,it definately applies to people on retreats and I guess if you really wanted to push the point wouldn't we all be better off meditating than spending hours chatting about nothing of any great importance.
    Please note that I am not referring to time spent on forums such as this where I feel that a great many people here are here for genuine reasons,either to ask questions or to give advice to those who are asking the questions to the best of our abilities.
    I realize for many this is their sangha and so would not disparage most of the chat I see here.
    With metta
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `   South Carolina, USA Veteran
    edited November 2010
    ravkes wrote: »
    If you're being kind with your words I'd say that's not idle chatter... :)

    However, if you do keep a steady meditation practice you're naturally going to gravitate to talking less and listening more. You'll have less idle chatter and respond to others with kindness and patience... Silence is the same as noise.

    Nice!

    Idle chatter is that speech which is not genuinely focussed on any good end, I'd say! We also have to examine what is motivating our speech. Is it an outspurt of a desire to be clever or rebellious or something else that would distinguish us from others? It's ego-centered speech that is the problem, whether it's about ideas or ideals —or our thoughts about other people or places and things which we own or are interested in. If the ego is the center, then it's probably not right speech —unless you're defending yourself in court of law or something along those lines.

    That is my sincere opinion on this important matter.
  • edited November 2010
    In my opinion, we want to give off good impressions of kindness. I think avoiding idle-chatter means that we don't force conversation for conversations sake, but that doesn't mean if someone is chatting with us that we must be rude to them. Don't force idle chatter, but remember to be friendly.
  • edited November 2010
    ravkes wrote: »
    However, if you do keep a steady meditation practice you're naturally going to gravitate to talking less and listening more. You'll have less idle chatter and respond to others with kindness and patience.

    Agree with this.
    I think it's good to be aware of these issues, but don't worry about the details too much. You can tie yourself in knots trying to figure out exactly what the Buddha meant. Rather, trust that clarity will come naturally through practice.
  • shadowleavershadowleaver Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Sometimes I talk a lot and rather carelessly, saying things just in order to say something or make myself feel better about some insecurity I have. Whenever I do that, I get a slight headache and my mind gets agitated and clouded. That's just not a pleasant feeling. Since I realized that a few years ago, I've been trying to speak mindfully, saying only what needs to be said. When I succeed (which is far from all the time :( ), the state of my mind is just better.

    I think conversations are a very good place for practice.
  • HumbleHumble Explorer
    edited November 2010
    If we consider historically the advice that the Buddha gave to lay people we will find that it is rather different from the teachings lay people use in their daily lives especially in the western world. There seems to be a gray area where the teachings meant for monks or extremely dedicated lay people begin and where the teachings meant for everyone including average lay Buddhists end.

    The four noble truths are for everyone but most of the 217 precepts monks undertake are not meant for lay people.

    " Buddhism distinguished the monks from those living in the world. The life of the monks was subject to many precepts (217 for men and 358 for women). Those living in the world followed a lesser and varied number of precepts according to their advancement. They found guidance from the monks with regard to their spiritual welfare and in return were to support the minimum needs of the monks." 1

    If a person is not a monk or an extremely dedicated Buddhist lay person idle chatter should probably not be a concern. Instead I would suggest focusing on being a person of integrity.

    "Now, a person endowed with these four qualities can be known as 'a person of integrity.' Which four?
    "There is the case where a person of integrity, when asked, does not reveal another person's bad points, to say nothing of when unasked. Furthermore, when asked, when pressed with questions, he is one who speaks of another person's bad points not in full, not in detail, with omissions, holding back. Of this person you may know, 'This venerable one is a person of integrity.'
    "Then again, a person of integrity, when unasked, reveals another person's good points, to say nothing of when asked. Furthermore, when asked, when pressed with questions, he is one who speaks of another person's good points in full & in detail, without omissions, without holding back. Of this person you may know, 'This venerable one is a person of integrity.'
    "Then again, a person of integrity, when unasked, reveals his own bad points, to say nothing of when asked. Furthermore, when asked, when pressed with questions, he is one who speaks of his own bad points in full & in detail, without omissions, without holding back. Of this person you may know, 'This venerable one is a person of integrity.'
    "Then again, a person of integrity, when asked, does not reveal his own good points, to say nothing of when unasked. Furthermore, when asked, when pressed with questions, he is one who speaks of his own good points not in full, not in detail, with omissions, holding back. Of this person you may know, 'This venerable one is a person of integrity.'
    "Monks, a person endowed with these four qualities can be known as 'a person of integrity.'" 2


    Here is a link to Buddhist advice for lay people if this is all still confusing.

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/various/wheel294.html

    Ten Virtues of the Lay-follower

    These ten, great King, are the virtues of the lay-follower:
    He shares the joys and sorrows of the Order;[1]
    He places the Dhamma first;[2]
    He enjoys giving according to his ability;
    If he sees a decline in the Dispensation of the Teaching of the Buddha, he strives for its strong growth;
    He has right views, disregarding belief in superstitions and omens; he will not accept any other teacher, not even for the sake of his life;
    He guards his deeds and words;
    He loves and cherishes peace and concord;
    He is not envious or jealous;
    He does not live a Buddhist life by way of deception or hypocrisy;
    He has gone for refuge to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha.
    Milindapañha, Ch. IV 3





    In summary, my personal advice for lay Buddhists is to focus on being people of integrity and holding true to the heart of the Buddha's teachings while not becoming too distressed over minor specific teachings such as those on "idle chatter" unless they are ready to devote their lives fully to Buddhist practice. We must realize as lay people that there is only so much we con do without becoming ordained and there is a line between Buddhist teachings for lay people and those for monks.


    1. http://www.crvp.org/book/Series03/III-15/chapter_viii.htm

    2. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.073.than.html

    3. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/various/wheel294.html
    rhysrezens
  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited November 2010
    ravkes wrote: »
    Any chatter that's harmful to you or others is idle chatter but if you're being kind with your words I'd say that's not idle chatter. Just my opinion. :)

    ...

    :uphand:

    -bf
  • In my Personal opinion, Idle chatter is the sort of speech that is not beneficial to oneself nor is it beneficial to others. For monks,idle chatter would be speech that is not inline with the dhamma and non-idle chatter would be speech inline with the dhamma, otherwise monks are supposed to observe noble silence.

    A similar rule can be applicable to lay people also, but it should be either beneficial to oneself or beneficial to others, in a way which is morally applicable i.e. when we say beneficial to oneself we mean something which does not cause trouble to the other person, and even if it does then that person must take the trouble willingly to listen to your speech(say for example taking help from others in the work place).

    When we say beneficial to others, it should be speech which is beneficial to others in a moral sense and also the person who listens to you also must feel that the information being given to them is useful for them.
    This is one of the reasons that speaking dhamma to people who do not wish to listen to it is also considered as idle chatter.

    Also just because we are lay people doesn't mean that we should be slack in following this rule, actually all the precepts should be followed without if's and but's, if you eventually want to become enlightened.
    Not to mention the karmic consequence of breaking this rule habitually can lead to re-birth in lower realm also(from what i remember from reading the suttas, may be inaccurate also). So be careful even with the precept such as this which may appear to be a small transgression.
  • i am basically in agreement with abhishek_laser - and would add a couple of points: in idle chatter one is not frequently very careful or observant of what one actually says. if one pays close attention, the content is often that which defines identity in a (frequently subtle) comparative way - thus establishing and/or reinforcing the definition of "who I am" in the world, ie, the production of self. and all too frequently this is also done at the expense of another - so called "comparison gaining", by criticizing we subtly say we are better somehow ... "did you hear what so and so did .." or "those kind of people ...". the implication is that "I" or "we" would never do that. there are very fine emotional repercussions from this internally and rippling social repercussions and divisions externally - both will contribute not simply to wasted time but also more personal and social disturbance, low level to be sure but disruptive of peace and clarity none the less.

    additionally (try being alone for some days to really notice this) the "joy" in idle banter is like a drug, an addiction - we tend to "need" it. this points to the underlying subtle suffering that is like any other drug - its just drugs that we manufacture in our own bodies in this case.

    i think it is good to notice these factors and perhaps practice a little more restraint and carefulness in speech - and, as noted already, listening more .. surely a Good Idea(tm). wasted time aside, careful speech should also lead to better understanding, less conflict and better skills in attention.
  • As for the path. All beings already know the truth. It is the Buddha nature. Any part of the 4 noble truths, the 8 fold path, or the 5 precepts is already known. Although our view may be foggy, the act of our sitting lifts the veil and offers us clarity.

    In my humble opinion, this has been one of the best threads I have read here in a while. Thank you so much to everyone.

    Namaste
  • As my mother used to tell me when I was younger, I was given two ears and only one mouth for a reason.
  • Agree with the above comments. What is idle speech for a monastic may be fine for lay life -- e.g., small talk with family or co-workers to nurture those bonds. Just be mindful of your intentions and the effects, and let that be your guide.
  • edited August 2011
    I'm rather perplexed. When Buddha taught to abandon idle chatter in Right speech, does it include the lay people as well or only in monastic life?
    Wholesome Speech : One of the Conditions For Unity, Gladness, and Friendship In Household Life

    When it comes to conditions for unity, gladness, and friendship the buddha suggests:



    We should " be established in verbal actions of loving kindness towards co-associates in the holy life openly and secretly."



    Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire confidence, joy and hope. I am committed to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to relieve others of their suffering. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

    "What is good friendship?
"Herein, Vyagghapajja, in whatever village or town a householder may dwell, spends time with householders or householders' sons, young or old, full of faith (saddha, confidence based on knowledge), full of virtue (sila), full of generosity (caga), full of wisdom (pañña). He talks with them, engages in discussions. He acts in accordance with the faith of the faithful, with the virtue of the virtuous, with the charity of the charitable, with the wisdom of the wise. This is called good friendship." - Dighajanu (Vyagghapajja) Sutta

    Note: "Noble-silence" is for when you are on a meditation retreat. It is conducive to good meditation because that way when you meditate the thoughts about what so and and so said along with the emotions that it generated doesn't arise to disturb your meditation. But in daily life outside of retreat cultivating " Wholesome Speech" is sufficient.
  • I learned from Ajahn Chah that the reason why monks practice eating very little, sleeping very little, and doing everything in small steps. Why? So that we may know the true meaning of "just right".

    with metta
  • zenmystezenmyste Veteran
    edited August 2011
    Its very simple really.

    The words that are coming out of your mouth, Are they hurting you deep down? If not - ok thats a start. But now ask, are they hurting or could hurt another person. If definitely not - then GREAT,off you go on your way!!!

    Its when you know deep down you shouldnt really be saying such things. However, sometimes things slip out which we didnt realize would hurt another, Do not worry about this. As it wasnt intentional.

    'Whenever you lie to someone, You dont just lie to them. Your lieing to yourself.
    When you harm someone, you dont just harm them, you harm yourself'

    Now why the hell would anyone want to do such things to themselves.
    So if you dont want to do something for another person. Then at least do it for yourself. :)
  • I see it like this, if what you say to someone harms them or any person walking by, in any way emotional that is idle chatter. If you are just talking, then that would be fine.
  • it remains me when i used to work for the telecom we used to be 40 in one big room answering calls and as soon as one was leaving the room everybody was badmouthing him.. that is for sure the kind of talk that is negative and idle !you really wonder what they say when you live the room yourself there is nothing more insane than that kind of workplace! the most difficult is that if you don t get involved you do not belong to the group!fortunately i stopped to work with them!YEMANJA
  • Most social conversation involves talking about "other people". Which will most likely involves gossip, hence turns into idle chatter and negative karma.
Sign In or Register to comment.