Is cussing a form of false speech?

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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colathenut
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Is cussing a form of false speech?

Post by colathenut » Sun Apr 03, 2016 7:35 pm

Hello, Dhamma Wheel!

So, is cussing a form of false speech? I've understood that particular precept to preclude dishonesty, but I've also learned that it can be taken to advise against gossip and saying negative things about people, or rather saying things that aren't ultimately uplifting, compassionate, and helpful, in addition to being sincere.

Would you say that saying naughty words counts against this precept? I'm sure it would if you were to use harsh language against someone, but what if, perhaps, you said, "You did a really #$!@*×% good job, you hard-workin' @$!#!"? That's the kind of thing you might say to a really close friend outside of polite company, but do you think maybe cussing creates some kind of attachment or even aggression? It certainly strikes me as somewhat passionate.

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Re: Is cussing a form of false speech?

Post by Zom » Sun Apr 03, 2016 9:36 pm

This is another form of wrong speech, called rude speech.

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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: Is cussing a form of false speech?

Post by Khalil Bodhi » Sun Apr 03, 2016 9:45 pm

Also described as harsh speech and, as far as I'm concerned (in my own practice), it seems like Wrong Speech.

Pharusaya veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami.
I undertake the precept to refrain from harsh speech.
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Re: Is cussing a form of false speech?

Post by rolling_boulder » Tue Apr 05, 2016 12:24 am

False? No.
Harsh? Yes.
The world is swept away. It does not endure...
The world is without shelter, without protector...
The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind...
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colathenut
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Re: Is cussing a form of false speech?

Post by colathenut » Tue Apr 05, 2016 3:45 am

Perhaps ultimately unproductive and incomplete?

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Is cussing a form of false speech?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Apr 05, 2016 5:16 am

colathenut wrote:So, is cussing a form of false speech?
Damned if I known. In the East End, where my old man comes from, the speech can be a bit rough, but if it's not malicious then it's not harsh speech.

It's all about intent, and whether it qualifies as harsh speech or not will depend on your intention. How it is regarded by others depends a lot on who is listening.

The Buddha was highly cultured and refined, but used the vernacular at times. If you translate the Pāḷi while trying to use polite words, the meaning can be lost. For example: “Tayome, bhikkhave, puggalā santo saṃvijjamānā lokasmiṃ. Katame tayo? Gūthabhāṇī, pupphabhāṇī, madhubhāṇī. ” (A.i.128)

“Monks, there are three kinds of individual found in the world. The speaker of shit, the speaker of flowers, and the speaker of honey. ”

I think that is better, and probably more accurately translates the intent than:

“Monks, there are three kinds of individual found in the world. The speaker of excrement, the speaker of flowers, and the speaker of honey. ”
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Re: Is cussing a form of false speech?

Post by Cittasanto » Tue Apr 05, 2016 6:11 am

colathenut wrote:Hello, Dhamma Wheel!

So, is cussing a form of false speech? I've understood that particular precept to preclude dishonesty, but I've also learned that it can be taken to advise against gossip and saying negative things about people, or rather saying things that aren't ultimately uplifting, compassionate, and helpful, in addition to being sincere.

Would you say that saying naughty words counts against this precept? I'm sure it would if you were to use harsh language against someone, but what if, perhaps, you said, "You did a really #$!@*×% good job, you hard-workin' @$!#!"? That's the kind of thing you might say to a really close friend outside of polite company, but do you think maybe cussing creates some kind of attachment or even aggression? It certainly strikes me as somewhat passionate.
the precepts are specific and don't include more than they say on the tin. this is why the ten wholesome actions are there, and the eightfold path to help us focus on other areas.
Language has its uses, words can be used to say something or nothing, for emphasis or subtlety and in possitive and negative ways. and our hearing can work in the same way, where we hear what we want to. Also as you can see context is important with how we talk.
In the texts the Buddha calls people directly to their face a fool for a specific reason. It is not done for the sake of belittling them, but rather to help them. Also in the texts the Buddha itemises what makes someone a foolish or a wise person. This can only be done if what is said carries the correct emphisis.
It is not the words but how we use them, and that is important, we don't need to swear constantly to say what needs said, but we shouldn't ignore words just because they can be used negatively or when impassioned, be wise in your useage.

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anthbrown84
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Re: Is cussing a form of false speech?

Post by anthbrown84 » Wed Apr 06, 2016 6:29 pm

This has highlighted to me that maybe i need to rain in the swearing.
I was born and raised on a council estate in england and swearing is part of my make up... i do however swear a lot more than the average person, even for this area

I find it hard around old friends to stick to speach that is not harsh as well... i find thst the current of past habits make this increasingly hard... maybe this is something I have to pay a bit of attention to from this point on!

Thank you for raising this topic OP :)

Can i ask you, is this something you find is relevant to your speech? or was it just something on your mind
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Re: Is cussing a form of false speech?

Post by _anicca_ » Thu Apr 07, 2016 3:05 am

As others have said, many esteemed teachers of the dhamma agree that cussing counts as harsh speech. IMO, there has to be a crude mindset behind someone before they say a swear word. Often times, swearing comes from an unwholesome, harsh place.
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Re: Is cussing a form of false speech?

Post by Santi253 » Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:11 am

I've started using the word "shit" on my Tumblr page, because I heard Ajahn Brahm use it several times in a Youtube video. Does Australia have different standards from other countries on using curse words? He was talking about his book, Who Ordered This Trunkload of Dung?
Last edited by Santi253 on Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is cussing a form of false speech?

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:18 pm

Santi253 wrote:I've started using the word "shit" on my Tumblr page, because I heard Ajahn Brahm use it several times in a Youtube video. Does Australia have different standards from other countries on using curse words? He was talking about his book, Who Ordered This Trunkload of Dung?
The meaning of words is socially constructed, in that there is no meaning to them at all beyond that which is attributed by the human communities that use them. The word "shit" is ultimately just a sound or a written symbol, the meaning of which varies according to custom and practice. (Hence, the importance of intention mention earlier in this thread.) The term can - in Australia and the UK, at least - be fairly innocuous, as in "I need to get my shit together", or "No shit, Sherlock!". Or it can, depending on context and intention, be aggressively offensive. There are important differences both within and between countries regarding offensive terms. Intention and context are key.

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Re: Is cussing a form of false speech?

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Sat Jul 22, 2017 12:09 am

even if the words don't invoke feelings of anger, excitement or fear in you, which they always seem to do, they do for others
even for trying to defend the practice of using swear words, one clings to something utterly valueless
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Re: Is cussing a form of false speech?

Post by dharmacorps » Sun Jul 23, 2017 7:01 pm

This is an interesting discussion with some good thoughts from everyone. For my part I have found it most helpful to focus on the intention behind the speech rather than the content. While swearing can offend or hurt others in some circumstances which has to be something people look out for, in some other situations I don't think its demeritorious. I've heard several monks swear but never in anger. Primarily to illustrate a point or tell a joke.

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