Right Speech: Getting Personal

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

I can see how the following comment(s) might reasonably be taken personally by someone else.

(1) "I disagree with you."
2
3%
(2) "You are incorrect."
6
8%
(3) "How could a person with the qualities you advocate ever take the position you hold to be true?"
6
8%
(4) "Here is the source of your confusion." (When you do not believe you are confused.)
7
9%
(5) "... backing away slowly ..." (followed by eye-roll emoji)
13
17%
(6) "You are too pig-headed to listen."
14
18%
(7) A post pointing out "your increasingly hysterical comments."
10
13%
(8) "You are a solipsist."
7
9%
(9) "That is your own idiosyncratic view, but the Buddha teaches ..."
7
9%
(10) "I can see how my comment may have offended you."
4
5%
 
Total votes: 76

binocular
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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by binocular » Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:45 pm

L.N. wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:02 pm
From my perspective, there always has been friendship and trust
/.../
Of course we cannot mandate niceness. One would hope that all involved in a Buddhist discussion forum devoted to Dhamma would engage with one another in friendship and trust.
I disagree. The teachings make very clear that one should not try to be friends with just anyone, but that one, on the contrary, should be very careful and very selective in whom one associates with and how.
We do damage to the perception Buddhism when we engage in bickering and disparaging others on a Buddhist discussion forum devoted to discussing the Dhamma.
I think one needs to find a balance between being a kind of representative of Buddhism, and being true to one's actual attainment.

Trying to be some kind of "model Buddhist" while not actually being one backfires.
/.../ there is a great desire among some Members to be able to disparage others freely and without constraints, as illustrated above elsewhere in this Topic.
I don't think such a desire exists, at least not in some pervasive manner. I think that most people here are most of the time just trying to be true to their level of attainment and to their extent of commitment to Buddhism. For some, this means they have completely dedicated their life to the pursuit of the Path (such as in the case of monastics), while for some others, it means they are only mildly interested in Buddhism, and then there's everyone inbetween.

binocular
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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by binocular » Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:56 pm

L.N. wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:20 pm
If we could get back on topic at some point, that would be great. The point being that (1) we all might make comments which could reasonably be taken personally by someone else, and (2) when we do so, Dhamma teaches that we should take personal responsibility for the words we have spoken/written.
What is your canonical support for this?

The passages you quoted earlier:
"These two are fools. Which two? The one who doesn't see his/her transgression as a transgression, and the one who doesn't rightfully pardon another who has confessed his/her transgression. These two are fools.
"These two are wise. Which two? The one who sees his/her transgression as a transgression, and the one who rightfully pardons another who has confessed his/her transgression. These two are wise."
— AN 2.21

"It's a cause of growth in the Dhamma and Vinaya of the noble ones when, seeing a transgression as such, one makes amends in accordance with the Dhamma and exercises restraint in the future."
— DN 2
It's not clear how these passages support the idea that anything anyone claims to be a transgression, in fact is a transgression; or that merely accusing someone of a transgression already establishes the transgression as an objective fact, and thus also establishes culpability and the need to make amends.

(See also this thread on false admonishment -- viewtopic.php?f=30&t=30537)

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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by dharmacorps » Mon Nov 20, 2017 7:45 pm

None of these statements in and of themselves anything at all. Everything is context-dependent. The Buddha was big on a "time and place" for the right kind of language, even harsh speech.

We are big in our society in the west on labeling certain terms as offensive in and of themselves. We are perennially offended by things.

Being offended can also be a choice based on clinging to the ego. Sometimes people's reaction to truths can be initial offense. I have been offended by something before but ultimately seen it as helpful or a learning experience.

The Buddha called a few people "worthless" and "stupid" in the Suttas. That is harsh and people may have taken offense, but it was never inappropriate because his motivations were good.

So I'd say you have to look at the motivation and the situation.

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Aloka
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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by Aloka » Mon Nov 20, 2017 9:10 pm

.

I think in general, it can sometimes be helpful to remember the words of the Buddha in the Honeyball sutta:

“According to my teaching, sir, in the world with its devas, Māras and Brahmas, with its creation with recluses and brahmans, with devas and men, there is no contending with anyone in the world;"

https://suttacentral.net/en/mn18

and also in the last four lines of the Karaniya Metta Sutta:

"By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world."


https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .amar.html


:anjali:

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retrofuturist
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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:03 pm

Greetings L.N.,

L.N. wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:20 pm
I don't know why this is so controversial.
In light of your ongoing confoundment, perhaps this article might provide some useful perspective. The entirety of the article is not strictly relevant to the current circumstance (as it's more socio-political than socio-religious), so instead I'll quote the sections that appear to have most relevance, in a piecemeal manner. Hopefully it gives some context as to why you're receiving more resistance than you expected.
Once upon a time classical liberalism was known for advocating free speech, free thinking, open discourse, and challenging dogmas. In the modern use liberals are associated with the sexual revolution and freedom of alternative lifestyles. These days that is not the case. It has become something altogether different. It has become the very thing it once hated, and it is not even aware of this change. Secular dogmas have been created, proper conduct has been decided, the socially just are the righteous, and any who deviate are committing a secular sin. Some have called it ‘political correctness’. I find this word overused and meaningless. What we are witnessing is a passive totalitarian control of the public discourse.

...

If one disrupts the hugbox environment then feelings are hurt and the ‘sinner’ is scolded in hopes they will see the error of their ways. The hugbox does not cultivate the mind nor the soul, it only indulges in sentimentalism and creates thin skinned individuals. Furthermore there is an air of self-righteousness about them. They have found the true way, the path to secular enlightenment, of love and peace, and those poor souls who deviate are lost in ignorance. This is not intellectual. It is not even intellectualism. It is a tool produced by a strictly controlled discourse.

...

The intellect cannot flourish if it can only accept confirmations and not opposition. There is no free thinking if there is a prison fence to keep one safe and feelings unharmed. An excellent practice is finding an ideology of the complete polar opposite of ones own, study it, talk to people of that ideology, attempt to comprehend it, put your personal feelings aside, and perhaps even experiment using their perspective of the world. Free thinking should be dangerous, not safe. A healthy intellectual environment challenges every presumed notion and closely held beliefs. It should sunder the mind and soul, leaving the individual to put the pieces back together.

...

Ones feelings, ones sense of self, ones esteem, the world owes it nothing. The world does not even owe it common courtesy. A civil society certainly values courtesy and consideration, but no person is inherently entitled to this. To the world, to society, one's feelings are absolutely insignificant and it is inflated self-indulgence to think otherwise. To ourselves and to our loved ones, feelings are valued and acknowledged, but do not in the least expect this from a complete stranger or society at large. They owe nothing to ones subjectivity. Do not expect it, and if kind consideration does occur then it is a delightful privilege, not a right.
This forum is not a hugbox, nor will it be.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Sam Vara
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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:10 pm

L.N. wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:20 pm
If we could get back on topic at some point, that would be great. The point being that (1) we all might make comments which could reasonably be taken personally by someone else, and (2) when we do so, Dhamma teaches that we should take personal responsibility for the words we have spoken/written. That is all. I don't know why this is so controversial.
I can't speak for others, but will say why I think it is so controversial.

First, because your definition of what might "reasonably be taken personally by someone else" is so idiosyncratic as to be unworkable on this forum. This began with my use of a phrase which you interpreted as being "personal". I immediately and repeatedly assured you that it was not, yet you merely insisted that it was. Since then, Ven. Dhammanando has also pointed out that this insistence was based upon an erroneous assumption that you persisted with despite my attempts at correcting it. This was your unreasonable interpretation; it flew in the face of all available evidence to the contrary, and had not one scrap of confirmation outside your mind. If you could get away with that kind of interpretation, then you could claim that almost any utterance could be taken personally, in an attempt to close down debate, or gain control. That would have a significant chilling effect upon conversations here. And that, in turn, is why I would prefer that people take responsibility for their own interpretations rather than policing other people's speech.

Second, my concern is that your second point - taking personal responsibility for for the words we have spoken/written - is not practiced by you. My concern is that the tone and topics of debate here on DW could be adversely affected by someone who is spectacularly hypocritical. As I said earlier, I can respect both the high-minded zealot and the thin-skinned victim; but not both in the same person. You appear to be someone who is struggling to contain extreme anger and touchiness and a desire to police others within a framework of smiley Buddhist sanctimoniousness. That's a very tough schtick, both for you, and for others.

You'll be glad to hear that I take personal responsibility for the above words which could reasonably be taken personally by someone else.

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Goofaholix
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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by Goofaholix » Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:09 pm

L.N. wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:20 pm
If we could get back on topic at some point, that would be great. The point being that (1) we all might make comments which could reasonably be taken personally by someone else, and (2) when we do so, Dhamma teaches that we should take personal responsibility for the words we have spoken/written. That is all. I don't know why this is so controversial.
Perhaps because there is a more obvious approach that actually works much better than chastising others.

We all read comments at times that at first glance we are inclined to take personally but on reflection could reasonably be assumed to be intended to be impersonal or we could reasonably choose to take impersonally. Dhamma teaches that we should take personal responsibility for our own reactions, so in such circumstances it's best to give the other person the benefit of the doubt and reply in an objective and impersonal manner.

In such circumstances I find usually the other person soon gets on track with that. If they don't and they want to get personal or nasty they get even more frustrated with your not taking the bait and with your lack of reactivity and at least that leads to some clarity about what's really going on.

Looking at your poll 17% of respondents find the most offensive of the comments you listed as being "personal", this suggests to me that most people don't think this is the big deal that it's being made out to be.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by dharmacorps » Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:05 am

All forms of speech-- harsh, kind, pleasing, soft, firm, are all normal and to be expected. Even if someone's speech to you is harsh, that is within the normal realm of human speech. They may be skillful, or not, but it isn't unusual. The solution doesn't lie with suppressing or deleting all the speech which you find offensive, but with working with your own inner resources so speech one direction or the other doesn't effect the mind either way. Just because the people on here are "Buddhists" doesn't mean they won't say dumb or displeasing things. Myself included :smile:

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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by L.N. » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:39 am

Goofaholix wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:09 pm
Perhaps because there is a more obvious approach that actually works much better than chastising others.
Goofaholix wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:09 pm
Perhaps because there is a more obvious approach that actually works much better than chastising others.
Who is the chastiser, and who has been chastised?

Following is what Dhammanando wrote to me by PM:
Dhammanando wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:34 pm
L.N. wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:27 am
Bhante, I would appreciate if your further responses to me did not include negative personalized comments.
L.N.,

There will not be any further responses to you. You can indulge your hauteur and prissiness at someone else's expense.

Dh. Bh.
Looking at your poll 17% of respondents find the most offensive of the comments you listed as being "personal", this suggests to me that most people don't think this is the big deal that it's being made out to be.
The poll is intended to demonstrate that a variety of statements might reasonably be taken personally. You can see the various results. Some people think the even more gentle comment of "I disagree with you" could reasonably be taken personally.

The point is not whether Sam Vara made a personalized comment or not. The point is not whether I was offended or not. This is all beside the point.

The point is as follows:
(1) Different individuals might reasonably take comments personally in ways we can't always predict.
(2) Such "personalized" comments are prone to misunderstanding.
(3) When we have made a personalized comment (i.e., playing the person, not the ball), then we have created potential misunderstanding.
(4) Having made a personalized comment which has resulted in misunderstanding, Dhamma practice calls upon us to take personal responsibility.
(5) This is good for everyone (myself included) to be mindful of when making personalized comments.

The reactions to this Topic, the expressions of hostility, the personal insults, all seem very strange to me. Nobody here seems willing to approach this topic as suggested by TOS: "Mutual respect and friendliness should be the basis of all interactions." We even have a venerable monk who sees fit to direct highly offensive, personalized attacks. Welcome to this discussion devoted to Dhamma.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

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L.N.
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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by L.N. » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:42 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:03 pm
This forum is not a hugbox, nor will it be.
Such is not expected. However, TOS suggests we can expect a friendly environment. "Mutual respect and friendliness should be the basis of all interactions." This does not mean a "hug box."

You have swooped down to hijack this thread for the purposes of making personal insults about me. It's your forum, you can do what you want.

I will say that having looked over the Bahai forum, it is a much friendlier place than this.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by Goofaholix » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:51 am

L.N. wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:39 am
Who is the chastiser, and who has been chastised?
There is no who that is the chastiser, there is no who that is being chastised. Without a who, there is nothing for "personal" comments to land on or cling to.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by Crazy cloud » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:56 am

This is an interesting debate and topic imo - can not say I agree or disagree with anyone particular, but when I see leakings of pm's, then something telles me this is not right or fair, and actually quite offensive in my understanding

Ajhan Chah had a saying like: "true but not right - right but not true"

And the meaning was that things might be right in a worldly sense but wrong in dhamma, or right in dhamma and wrong in a worldly sense
your name Mori means forest like the infinite fresh green distances of your blindness

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L.N.
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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by L.N. » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:01 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:10 pm
First, because your definition of what might "reasonably be taken personally by someone else" is so idiosyncratic as to be unworkable on this forum.
It is not meant to be workable for the forum. It is meant to be workable for oneself. In other words, when one makes a personalized comment, playing the person rather than the ball, one can anticipate unexpected responses. In which case one can take personal responsibility for the words spoken. As the poll shows, different people have different ideas of what comments might reasonably be taken personally.
This began with my use of a phrase which you interpreted as being "personal". I immediately and repeatedly assured you that it was not, yet you merely insisted that it was.
You did more than that. You doubled down and made additional personalized comments, addressing my state of mind and my characteristics. You did not say your comment was not intended as being personal. Rather, you said I seemed confused and you have every right to tell me so. But what's the point? That locked thread is beside the point. I opened this Topic because I assumed (incorrectly) that it would receive a friendly reception and serious discussion.
Since then, Ven. Dhammanando has also pointed out that this insistence was based upon an erroneous assumption that you persisted with despite my attempts at correcting it.
The point is that it was a personalized comment, and when we make such comments, we might be mindful that the person spoken to may take it personally. At which point the Dhamma teaches taking personal responsibility for one's words, not blaming the other for his or her failure to hear what you intended to say. We all are prone to this mistake in communication. I thought it was worth serious discussion in this Topic.
This was your unreasonable interpretation; it flew in the face of all available evidence to the contrary, and had not one scrap of confirmation outside your mind.
The phrase "your confusion" is a personalized comment to the extent that it addresses the state of mind of the person spoken to, rather than the subject. You appeared to play the person, not the ball. When I brought this to your attention, politely asking you to "please" not make further personalized statements, you doubled down and made additional personalized statements, just as Bhante has done, just as retrofuturist has done, etc. All of this makes my point for me. Personalized comments can be misunderstood, and they can be a method of attack, and they can be a method of avoiding the point, namely, playing the person, not the ball.
If you could get away with that kind of interpretation, then you could claim that almost any utterance could be taken personally, in an attempt to close down debate, or gain control.
I don't want to close down debate or gain control of others. I strive for self-control and personal responsibility. You are responsible for your own actions. Oddly, I have no hard feelings toward you at all. This Topic was intended entirely to be a discussion of Right Speech, that is all.
That would have a significant chilling effect upon conversations here.
There are times when we should have a chilling effect on our own conduct, as other repeatedly are telling me here. One time when we should have a chilling effect on our own conduct is when we make a personalized comment about someone, because by making a personalized comment, we are inviting misunderstanding.
And that, in turn, is why I would prefer that people take responsibility for their own interpretations rather than policing other people's speech.
I never in this Topic stated that I wished to police other people's speech. I always have said that I defer to those who operate and provide this DW forum, and I still do. You may be confusing this with the other Topic about disparaging other faiths. There, I do believe tighter controls by the moderators/admin Team would be appropriate. But I never said that personalized comments violate TOS in and of themselves. However, some of the attack in this Topic certainly have violated TOS, but again, that is not my call to make.

You have rejected the position I have expressed regarding how we should take personally responsibility for the words we speak. That is your choice and your kamma. We call make our own choices.
Second, my concern is that your second point - taking personal responsibility for for the words we have spoken/written - is not practiced by you.
Yes it is.
My concern is that the tone and topics of debate here on DW could be adversely affected by someone who is spectacularly hypocritical.
More personalized comments.
As I said earlier, I can respect both the high-minded zealot and the thin-skinned victim; but not both in the same person. You appear to be someone who is struggling to contain extreme anger and touchiness and a desire to police others within a framework of smiley Buddhist sanctimoniousness.
More personalized comments.
That's a very tough schtick, both for you, and for others.

You'll be glad to hear that I take personal responsibility for the above words which could reasonably be taken personally by someone else.
Yes, well you have spoken in a manner which is not based in fact. As has been discussed, this is not a friendly environment, so I guess you do what you think is necessary.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

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L.N.
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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by L.N. » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:02 am

Goofaholix wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:51 am
L.N. wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:39 am
Who is the chastiser, and who has been chastised?
There is no who that is the chastiser, there is no who that is being chastised. Without a who, there is nothing for "personal" comments to land on or cling to.
That's pretty much how I feel. I find it bizarre that people are reading "outbursts" and "prissiness" into this. The Topic was intended for a friendlier audience.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by binocular » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:03 am

L.N. wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:39 am
The point is as follows:
(1) Different individuals might reasonably take comments personally in ways we can't always predict.
(2) Such "personalized" comments are prone to misunderstanding.
(3) When we have made a personalized comment (i.e., playing the person, not the ball), then we have created potential misunderstanding.

(4) Having made a personalized comment which has resulted in misunderstanding, Dhamma practice calls upon us to take personal responsibility.

(5) This is good for everyone (myself included) to be mindful of when making personalized comments.
That's late in the game to introduce Dhamma practice!

If you want to make an argument from adherence to the Dhamma, then it should be rightfully pointed out to you that adherence to the Dhamma should come 1st, not 4th. But it's also not possible to demand of people to adhere to the Dhamma. So your point is moot.
The reactions to this Topic, the expressions of hostility, the personal insults, all seem very strange to me. Nobody here seems willing to approach this topic as suggested by TOS: "Mutual respect and friendliness should be the basis of all interactions." We even have a venerable monk who sees fit to direct highly offensive, personalized attacks. Welcome to this discussion devoted to Dhamma.
This cynicism is already costing you dearly.

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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by binocular » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:05 am

L.N. wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:02 am
Goofaholix wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:51 am
L.N. wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:39 am
Who is the chastiser, and who has been chastised?
There is no who that is the chastiser, there is no who that is being chastised. Without a who, there is nothing for "personal" comments to land on or cling to.
That's pretty much how I feel. I find it bizarre that people are reading "outbursts" and "prissiness" into this. The Topic was intended for a friendlier audience.
If there's no one, there's also no audience, friendly or otherwise.

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L.N.
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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by L.N. » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:12 am

In an attempt to get back on Topic.

As the poll suggests, a variety of even seemingly innocuous comments might "reasonably" be taken personally. We just don't always know how our words will be taken.

Some of the comments in the poll are not personalized comments; some are. Personalized comment "play the person, not the ball" (or, as our esteemed administrator retrofuturist prefers, "play the man, not the ball"). When we make a personalized comment, we run the risk of creating conflict. This conflict created by our words, justified or not, is worth noting. The Dhamma teaches that we are to take personal responsibility for the words we speak. The kernel of truth might be: "I spoke in a manner which came across as personal, but I did not intend to speak about your person." Or the kernel of truth might be: "I intended to speak about your person, because I intend to comment about your state of mind." But we should acknowledge the kernel of truth and take personal responsibility for it.

The following is worth quoting in full as it conveys the main points of Dhamma which I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to get across:
Reconciliation, Right & Wrong
by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

"These two are fools. Which two? The one who doesn't see his/her transgression as a transgression, and the one who doesn't rightfully pardon another who has confessed his/her transgression. These two are fools.

"These two are wise. Which two? The one who sees his/her transgression as a transgression, and the one who rightfully pardons another who has confessed his/her transgression. These two are wise."


— AN 2.21

"It's a cause of growth in the Dhamma and Vinaya of the noble ones when, seeing a transgression as such, one makes amends in accordance with the Dhamma and exercises restraint in the future."

— DN 2

The Buddha succeeded in establishing a religion that has been a genuine force for peace and harmony, not only because of the high value he placed on these qualities but also because of the precise instructions he gave on how to achieve them through forgiveness and reconciliation. Central to these instructions is his insight that forgiveness is one thing, reconciliation is something else.

The Pali word for forgiveness-khama-also means "the earth." A mind like the earth is non-reactive and unperturbed. When you forgive me for harming you, you decide not to retaliate, to seek no revenge. You don't have to like me. You simply unburden yourself of the weight of resentment and cut the cycle of retribution that would otherwise keep us ensnarled in an ugly samsaric wrestling match. This is a gift you can give us both, totally on your own, without my having to know or understand what you've done.

Reconciliation — patisaraniya-kamma — means a return to amicability, and that requires more than forgiveness. It requires the reestablishing of trust. If I deny responsibility for my actions, or maintain that I did no wrong, there's no way we can be reconciled. Similarly, if I insist that your feelings don't matter, or that you have no right to hold me to your standards of right and wrong, you won't trust me not to hurt you again. To regain your trust, I have to show my respect for you and for our mutual standards of what is and is not acceptable behavior; to admit that I hurt you and that I was wrong to do so; and to promise to exercise restraint in the future. At the same time, you have to inspire my trust, too, in the respectful way you conduct the process of reconciliation. Only then can our friendship regain a solid footing.

Thus there are right and wrong ways of attempting reconciliation: those that skillfully meet these requirements for reestablishing trust, and those that don't. To encourage right reconciliation among his followers, the Buddha formulated detailed methods for achieving it, along with a culture of values that encourages putting those methods to use.

The methods are contained in the Pali Vinaya's instructions for how monks should confess their offenses to one another, how they should seek reconciliation with lay people they have wronged, how they should settle protracted disputes, and how a full split in the Sangha should be healed. Although directed to monks, these instructions embody principles that apply to anyone seeking reconciliation of differences, whether personal or political.

The first step in every case is an acknowledgement of wrongdoing. When a monk confesses an offense, such as having insulted another monk, he first admits to having said the insult. Then he agrees that the insult really was an offense. Finally, he promises to restrain himself from repeating the offense in the future. A monk seeking reconciliation with a lay person follows a similar pattern, with another monk, on friendly terms with the lay person, acting as mediator. If a dispute has broken the Sangha into factions that have both behaved in unseemly ways, then when the factions seek reconciliation they are advised first to clear the air in a procedure called "covering over with grass." Both sides make a blanket confession of wrongdoing and a promise not to dig up each other's minor offenses. This frees them to focus on the major wrongdoings, if any, that caused or exacerbated the dispute.

To heal a full split in the Sangha, the two sides are instructed first to inquire into the root intentions on both sides that led to the split, for if those intentions were irredeemably malicious or dishonest, reconciliation is impossible. If the group tries to patch things up without getting to the root of the split, nothing has really been healed. Only when the root intentions have been shown to be reconcilable and the differences resolved can the Sangha perform the brief ceremony that reestablishes harmony.

Pervading these instructions is the realization that genuine reconciliation cannot be based simply on the desire for harmony. It requires a mutual understanding of what actions served to create disharmony, and a promise to try to avoid those actions in the future. This in turn requires a clearly articulated agreement about — and commitment to — mutual standards of right and wrong. Even if the parties to a reconciliation agree to disagree, their agreement needs to distinguish between right and wrong ways of handling their differences.

Yet right and wrong have gotten a bad rap in Western Buddhist circles, largely because of the ways in which we have seen right and wrong abused in our own culture — as when one person tries to impose arbitrary standards or mean-spirited punishments on others, or hypocritically demands that others obey standards that he himself does not.

To avoid these abuses, some people have recommended living by a non-dual vision that transcends attachment to right and wrong. This vision, however, is open to abuse as well. In communities where it is espoused, irresponsible members can use the rhetoric of non-duality and non-attachment to excuse genuinely harmful behavior; their victims are left adrift, with no commonly accepted standards on which to base their appeals for redress. Even the act of forgiveness is suspect in such a context, for what right do the victims have to judge actions as requiring forgiveness or not? All too often, the victims are the ones held at fault for imposing their standards on others and not being able to rise above dualistic views.

This means that right and wrong have not really been transcended in such a community. They've simply been realigned: If you can claim a non-dual perspective, you're in the right no matter what you've done. If you complain about another person's behavior, you're in the wrong. And because this realignment is not openly acknowledged as such, it creates an atmosphere of hypocrisy in which genuine reconciliation is impossible.

So the solution lies not in abandoning right and wrong, but in learning how to use them wisely. Thus the Buddha backed up his methods for reconciliation with a culture of values whereby right and wrong become aids rather than hindrances to reconciliation. To prevent those in the right from abusing their position, he counseled that they reflect on themselves before they accuse another of wrongdoing. The checklist of questions he recommended boils down to this: "Am I free from unreconciled offenses of my own? Am I motivated by kindness, rather than vengeance? Am I really clear on our mutual standards?" Only if they can answer "yes" to these questions should they bring up the issue. Furthermore, the Buddha recommended that they determine to speak only words that are true, timely, gentle, to the point, and prompted by kindness. Their motivation should be compassion, solicitude for the welfare of all parties involved, and the desire to see the wrong-doer rehabilitated, together with an overriding desire to hold to fair principles of right and wrong.

To encourage a wrongdoer to see reconciliation as a winning rather than a losing proposition, the Buddha praised the honest acceptance of blame as an honorable rather than a shameful act: not just a means, but the means for progress in spiritual practice. As he told his son, Rahula, the ability to recognize one's mistakes and admit them to others is the essential factor in achieving purity in thought, word, and deed [MN 61]. Or as he said in the Dhammapada, people who recognize their own mistakes and change their ways "illumine the world like the moon when freed from a cloud" [Dhp 173].

In addition to providing these incentives for honestly admitting misbehavior, the Buddha blocked the paths to denial. Modern sociologists have identified five basic strategies that people use to avoid accepting blame when they've caused harm, and it's noteworthy that the Pali teaching on moral responsibility serves to undercut all five. The strategies are: to deny responsibility, to deny that harm was actually done, to deny the worth of the victim, to attack the accuser, and to claim that they were acting in the service of a higher cause. The Pali responses to these strategies are: (1) We are always responsible for our conscious choices. (2) We should always put ourselves in the other person's place. (3) All beings are worthy of respect. (4) We should regard those who point out our faults as if they were pointing out treasure. (Monks, in fact, are required not to show disrespect to people who criticize them, even if they don't plan to abide by the criticism.) (5) There are no — repeat, no — higher purposes that excuse breaking the basic precepts of ethical behavior.

In setting out these standards, the Buddha created a context of values that encourages both parties entering into a reconciliation to employ right speech and to engage in the honest, responsible self-reflection basic to all Dhamma practice. In this way, standards of right and wrong behavior, instead of being oppressive or petty, engender deep and long-lasting trust. In addition to creating the external harmony conducive to Dhamma practice, the process of reconciliation thus also becomes an opportunity for inner growth.

The Buddha admitted that not all disputes can be reconciled. There are times when one or both parties are unwilling to exercise the honesty and restraint that true reconciliation requires. Even then, though, forgiveness is still an option. This is why the distinction between reconciliation and forgiveness is so important. It encourages us not to settle for mere forgiveness when the genuine healing of right reconciliation is possible; and it allows us to be generous with our forgiveness even when it is not.
"Reconciliation, Right & Wrong", by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (BCBS Edition), 18 July 2011, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ation.html.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

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Goofaholix
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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by Goofaholix » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:14 am

L.N. wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:02 am
That's pretty much how I feel. I find it bizarre that people are reading "outbursts" and "prissiness" into this.
Clearly they are taking your comments personally then, so should you take personal responsibility for the words or would it be better if they take personal responsibility for the reactions?
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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L.N.
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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by L.N. » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:17 am

binocular wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:03 am
If you want to make an argument from adherence to the Dhamma, then it should be rightfully pointed out to you that adherence to the Dhamma should come 1st, not 4th. But it's also not possible to demand of people to adhere to the Dhamma. So your point is moot.
The title of the Topic is "Right Speech." This is a forum devoted to Dhamma discussion. This Topic clearly was intended to be about the Dhamma from the starting gate.

By the way, it has come to my attention that someone from the DW Team edited the OP of the following Topic without notice to me: viewtopic.php?f=16&t=30614. I have not done a word-for-word check, so I am not sure of everything that was changed. However, this practice calls the credibility of the Forum into question. Apparently, the Team can and will go into OPs without notice and change the wording. I do not know if the OP on this Topic similarly has been altered.
Last edited by L.N. on Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

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L.N.
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Re: Right Speech: Getting Personal

Post by L.N. » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:23 am

Goofaholix wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:14 am
L.N. wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:02 am
That's pretty much how I feel. I find it bizarre that people are reading "outbursts" and "prissiness" into this.
Clearly they are taking your comments personally then, so should you take personal responsibility for the words or would it be better if they take personal responsibility for the reactions?
No, we all need to take personal responsibility for the kamma we perform. Nobody is responsible for my reactions but me. Anybody who has read my other posts on this Forum will see that I have consistently advocated personal responsibility, across the board. Similarly we all (myself included) are responsible for the words we speak, whether kind or unkind. When we do something which has an unintended consequence, we all (myself included) can recognize the kernel of truth regarding our role in the situation or conflict which has arisen conditioned by our words/actions.

But nobody else is responsible for one's reactions than oneself. I always assumed this was a given. I see now that people have been hearing a different message, thus the personalized comments directed at me, I suppose.

I hope there is at least one person who has understood the point. Personalized comments are rampant here, and this would be a friendlier forum if each of us exercised a little more self-regulation, as the TOS envision. This is not an attempt at policing or controlling others. It is a reminder that we can do better. (All of us.)
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

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