Right Speech

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
binocular
Posts: 6493
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Right Speech

Post by binocular » Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:17 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 12:31 pm
However, here on the interwebs, if all we have are words on the screen and our reactions to them, the Dhamma discussions do become a very intellectual 'heady' pursuit, akin, as you say, to mathematics.
No, that's not how I say it.

I mean the comparison between the Dhamma and mathematics like this:

In mathematics, whenever one doesn't understand something, one can, as a rule, trace that back to lacking knowledge of some other, more basic thing.
I used to tutor math. I would get highschool students and even college students come to me having problems with various mathematical topics. But as it turned out, they mostly lacked proper knowledge and skills in calculating fractions. Something they should have mastered long ago. Of course they couldn't calculate logarithmic functions, given that they didn't know how to do fractions.

I think the Dhamma is, or should be like mathematics in this regard: whenever one doesn't understand something, one should, as a rule, be able to trace that back to lacking knowledge of some other, more basic thing. Once that lack is done away with, only then can one move on.

I see no need to treat the Dhamma as some kind of esoteric, mystical thing, where vast tracts of thought and practice need to be taken on faith and for granted. Or making it into something "personal" in the sense of being unanalyzable, holistic, abstract. The suttas are descriptions of the universal aspect of every human experience. One is supposed to understand one's experience on such terms, if one is to put the instructions in the suttas into practice. Impersonal, like mathematics. Part of the teachings on anatta.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

Dan74
Posts: 3094
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: Right Speech

Post by Dan74 » Tue Sep 03, 2019 4:43 pm

binocular wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:17 pm
Dan74 wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 12:31 pm
However, here on the interwebs, if all we have are words on the screen and our reactions to them, the Dhamma discussions do become a very intellectual 'heady' pursuit, akin, as you say, to mathematics.
No, that's not how I say it.

I mean the comparison between the Dhamma and mathematics like this:

In mathematics, whenever one doesn't understand something, one can, as a rule, trace that back to lacking knowledge of some other, more basic thing.
I used to tutor math. I would get highschool students and even college students come to me having problems with various mathematical topics. But as it turned out, they mostly lacked proper knowledge and skills in calculating fractions. Something they should have mastered long ago. Of course they couldn't calculate logarithmic functions, given that they didn't know how to do fractions.

I think the Dhamma is, or should be like mathematics in this regard: whenever one doesn't understand something, one should, as a rule, be able to trace that back to lacking knowledge of some other, more basic thing. Once that lack is done away with, only then can one move on.

I see no need to treat the Dhamma as some kind of esoteric, mystical thing, where vast tracts of thought and practice need to be taken on faith and for granted. Or making it into something "personal" in the sense of being unanalyzable, holistic, abstract. The suttas are descriptions of the universal aspect of every human experience. One is supposed to understand one's experience on such terms, if one is to put the instructions in the suttas into practice. Impersonal, like mathematics. Part of the teachings on anatta.
Thank you for a clear description. [boldface mine] Does this resonate with other people's experience of Dhamma practice?

In some sense I agree. Except the 'lack' as you put it, is rarely something that is arrived at through analysis. IME, it is rather something that a combination of practice, life and skilful pointers by an experienced guide overcome. In maths, one formulates a precise question and can certainly receive an intelligible answer (if one has the requisite training and ability). In Dhamma practice, one often doesn't quite know where the real stumbling block lies and can practice in a wrong or a 'stuck' manner for decades, especially if one doesn't have the right motivation or a skilful experienced guide.

To give one example, when I started meditating for quite a while there was an observer, like a homunculus, watching me meditate, watching me focus on the breath, watching my discomfort. It took me a while to discern the two 'structures' - to become aware of them. Initially I was more identified with the observer and the experience on the cushion (and to wit, most of the off-the-cushion experience) was kinda muted. But I didn't know that, because that was what I was used to. Once I became conscious of the observer, which in my case was a kind of a defence mechanism, I think, I could let it go. What also helped was many pointers from the teacher and RL as to how I was not really present, not really embodied, especially when doing physical work. Once the observer was let gone of, the experience of meditation became much more vivid and energetic.

There are thousands of things like that in practice (unknown unknowns) and while perhaps to some extent one could systematise them, the actual approach to overcome them is much more subtle and personal. For instance, my becoming aware of the observer would not have been possible earlier on just through the discussion, partly because I lacked the necessary clarity to see it and partly because I was too insecure to even look there.

I don't know if this makes sense. Even teaching maths, particularly weaker students, it can be tricky to identify the gap and to close it in a way the student (who likely learned things wrong) will be able to digest, I think. How much more so when it comes to the Dhamma which strikes at our very identity. So no, I don't think Dhamma practice is a technology one can completely systematically apply and systematically fix whatever issues arise. Reading the stories of great modern teachers, one sees the organic, sometimes paradoxical way their practice progressed. And they had all had flesh-and-blood teachers. I think this is very important. The teacher and the practice community. Online can only bring one this far, and oftentimes this far in the wrong direction.
_/|\_

binocular
Posts: 6493
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Right Speech

Post by binocular » Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:04 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 4:43 pm
binocular wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:17 pm
I think the Dhamma is, or should be like mathematics in this regard: whenever one doesn't understand something, one should, as a rule, be able to trace that back to lacking knowledge of some other, more basic thing. Once that lack is done away with, only then can one move on.
Thank you for a clear description. [boldface mine] Does this resonate with other people's experience of Dhamma practice?

In some sense I agree. Except the 'lack' as you put it, is rarely something that is arrived at through analysis. IME, it is rather something that a combination of practice, life and skilful pointers by an experienced guide overcome.
I don't know why you think that that is not implied in what I'm talking about.
You seem to operate with an extremely limited notion of "analysis".
In maths, one formulates a precise question and can certainly receive an intelligible answer (if one has the requisite training and ability). In Dhamma practice, one often doesn't quite know where the real stumbling block lies and can practice in a wrong or a 'stuck' manner for decades, especially if one doesn't have the right motivation or a skilful experienced guide.

Again, you're missing my point. To give an example from tutoring mathematics: A student came to me for help with logarithms. I quickly established that it's not just logarithms that she had trouble with, but with something much more basic, namely, fractions. And we first had to master fractions before we could move on to logarithms. The reason she could not do logarithms was that she could not do fractions.

And this is how I think that Dhamma practice should be like mathematics: One starts off with some particular idea of what the problem is (as in the above example, logarithms), but then, digging a bit deeper, it turns out the problem is with something other, perhaps more basic (as in the above example, fractions). And then when one takes appropriate action to address that, the other problem should either go away or be possible to solve.
skilful experienced guide
You keep talking about this "skilful experienced guide". So where can I buy one? One of the main characteristics of spiritual/religious teachers is, as has been my experience, that they don't have time for me.
To give one example, when I started meditating for quite a while there was an observer, like a homunculus, watching me meditate, watching me focus on the breath, watching my discomfort. It took me a while to discern the two 'structures' - to become aware of them. Initially I was more identified with the observer and the experience on the cushion (and to wit, most of the off-the-cushion experience) was kinda muted. But I didn't know that, because that was what I was used to. Once I became conscious of the observer, which in my case was a kind of a defence mechanism, I think, I could let it go. What also helped was many pointers from the teacher and RL as to how I was not really present, not really embodied, especially when doing physical work. Once the observer was let gone of, the experience of meditation became much more vivid and energetic.

Sorry, I don't see what your particular meditation practice has to do with the Dhamma.
I don't know if this makes sense. Even teaching maths, particularly weaker students, it can be tricky to identify the gap and to close it in a way the student (who likely learned things wrong) will be able to digest, I think.
That's why there are tutors, private instructors. It's their job to sit down with the student, study the student's work, watch them as they try to solve study matter problems, and then based on that figure out what it is that the student doesn't know and what he needs help with, and then help them learn that.
That's the difference between an ordinary teacher who is just a lecturer, and a tutor.
So no, I don't think Dhamma practice is a technology one can completely systematically apply and systematically fix whatever issues arise.
If it's not that, then it's just more mysticism, esoteric nonsense.
Reading the stories of great modern teachers, one sees the organic, sometimes paradoxical way their practice progressed. And they had all had flesh-and-blood teachers. I think this is very important. The teacher and the practice community. Online can only bring one this far, and oftentimes this far in the wrong direction.
You just can't resist putting me down, eh?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

Dan74
Posts: 3094
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: Right Speech

Post by Dan74 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 10:24 am

binocular wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:04 pm
Dan74 wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 4:43 pm
binocular wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:17 pm
I think the Dhamma is, or should be like mathematics in this regard: whenever one doesn't understand something, one should, as a rule, be able to trace that back to lacking knowledge of some other, more basic thing. Once that lack is done away with, only then can one move on.
Thank you for a clear description. [boldface mine] Does this resonate with other people's experience of Dhamma practice?

In some sense I agree. Except the 'lack' as you put it, is rarely something that is arrived at through analysis. IME, it is rather something that a combination of practice, life and skilful pointers by an experienced guide overcome.
I don't know why you think that that is not implied in what I'm talking about.
You seem to operate with an extremely limited notion of "analysis".
Understood. What you mean by 'analysis' includes life experience, guidance from a teacher, etc.
binocular wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:04 pm
In maths, one formulates a precise question and can certainly receive an intelligible answer (if one has the requisite training and ability). In Dhamma practice, one often doesn't quite know where the real stumbling block lies and can practice in a wrong or a 'stuck' manner for decades, especially if one doesn't have the right motivation or a skilful experienced guide.

Again, you're missing my point. To give an example from tutoring mathematics: A student came to me for help with logarithms. I quickly established that it's not just logarithms that she had trouble with, but with something much more basic, namely, fractions. And we first had to master fractions before we could move on to logarithms. The reason she could not do logarithms was that she could not do fractions.

And this is how I think that Dhamma practice should be like mathematics: One starts off with some particular idea of what the problem is (as in the above example, logarithms), but then, digging a bit deeper, it turns out the problem is with something other, perhaps more basic (as in the above example, fractions). And then when one takes appropriate action to address that, the other problem should either go away or be possible to solve.
Right. And this is why, as tried to illustrate in my post, the sticking point in practice is unlike mathematics, since it often involves the totality of one's kammic state, not just knowledge and intellectuality understanding or a systematic analysis. It takes work on all sorts of levels.
binocular wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:04 pm
skilful experienced guide
You keep talking about this "skilful experienced guide". So where can I buy one? One of the main characteristics of spiritual/religious teachers is, as has been my experience, that they don't have time for me.
I don't get that. Teachers teach. That's what they do. Why would they not have time for you? What is the issue here?
binocular wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:04 pm
To give one example, when I started meditating for quite a while there was an observer, like a homunculus, watching me meditate, watching me focus on the breath, watching my discomfort. It took me a while to discern the two 'structures' - to become aware of them. Initially I was more identified with the observer and the experience on the cushion (and to wit, most of the off-the-cushion experience) was kinda muted. But I didn't know that, because that was what I was used to. Once I became conscious of the observer, which in my case was a kind of a defence mechanism, I think, I could let it go. What also helped was many pointers from the teacher and RL as to how I was not really present, not really embodied, especially when doing physical work. Once the observer was let gone of, the experience of meditation became much more vivid and energetic.

Sorry, I don't see what your particular meditation practice has to do with the Dhamma.
We could use the more common example of overcoming defilements, which is a neat example of a kammic obstacle, rather than an intellectual one. The point is simply that Dhamma practice, yours, mine and anyone's, proceeds on many levels, on the level of knowledge, intellect, emotions, ethics, on energetic and physical levels, and others. Approaching it, as one would approach mathematics, can only get one so far.
binocular wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:04 pm
I don't know if this makes sense. Even teaching maths, particularly weaker students, it can be tricky to identify the gap and to close it in a way the student (who likely learned things wrong) will be able to digest, I think.
That's why there are tutors, private instructors. It's their job to sit down with the student, study the student's work, watch them as they try to solve study matter problems, and then based on that figure out what it is that the student doesn't know and what he needs help with, and then help them learn that.
That's the difference between an ordinary teacher who is just a lecturer, and a tutor.
Agreed. Individual approach is needed.
binocular wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:04 pm
So no, I don't think Dhamma practice is a technology one can completely systematically apply and systematically fix whatever issues arise.
If it's not that, then it's just more mysticism, esoteric nonsense.
Sounds rather black-and-white to me. Dhamma practice as it happens seems to me to be a very different process than learning mathematics, having done both for many years. And even though pretty much all that happens is caused by something or other, the mechanism of causation is very complex and works on many levels. With liberation itself said to be uncaused, unconditioned! We merely make ourselves prone through practice.
binocular wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:04 pm
Reading the stories of great modern teachers, one sees the organic, sometimes paradoxical way their practice progressed. And they had all had flesh-and-blood teachers. I think this is very important. The teacher and the practice community. Online can only bring one this far, and oftentimes this far in the wrong direction.
You just can't resist putting me down, eh?
[/quote]

Not at all. You clearly have a sharper mind than most if us here. I was just saying something very similar to what you could've said to your maths student - without getting the appropriate assistance with the fractions, she would just be going around in circles with the logarithms, possibly getting ever more confused and disheartened. Hence the need for 'tutors' as you said.
_/|\_

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 21538
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Right Speech

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:24 am

Greetings,

I'm not quite sure what the above posts have to do about Right Speech, but they do go to show that even the Rightest Speech can be regarded as less than that, if people hear it in a different manner to what was spoken.

Cause for tolerance, patience and good-will IMO...

As you were.

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

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

binocular
Posts: 6493
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Right Speech

Post by binocular » Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:18 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:24 am
I'm not quite sure what the above posts have to do about Right Speech, but they do go to show that even the Rightest Speech can be regarded as less than that, if people hear it in a different manner to what was spoken.
And you are, of course, The Arbiter of Truth.
How could I let that slip my mind!
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

User avatar
salayatananirodha
Posts: 513
Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:34 am
Contact:

Re: Right Speech

Post by salayatananirodha » Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:13 am

right speech is super important and super good and is not to be dismissed in any way
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/wp-conte ... _Heart.pdf
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

User avatar
Nwad
Posts: 434
Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:24 pm

Re: Right Speech

Post by Nwad » Mon Sep 16, 2019 6:09 pm

Hello Friends :anjali:

Could some one help me with a sutta where Buddha enumerates topics of "gossip", that bhikkhu should avoid to engage in ? Like : kings, army, etc?
I don't know if someone remember this one ..?

Thank you :anjali:

perkele
Posts: 939
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:37 pm

Re: Right Speech

Post by perkele » Mon Sep 16, 2019 6:22 pm

There is this:
Kathavatthu Sutta: Topics of Conversation wrote:Now at that time a large number of monks, after the meal, on returning from their alms round, had gathered at the meeting hall and were engaged in many kinds of bestial topics of conversation: conversation about kings, robbers, & ministers of state; armies, alarms, & battles; food & drink; clothing, furniture, garlands, & scents; relatives; vehicles; villages, towns, cities, the countryside; women & heroes; the gossip of the street & the well; tales of the dead; tales of diversity, the creation of the world & of the sea; talk of whether things exist or not.
:anjali:

User avatar
Nwad
Posts: 434
Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:24 pm

Re: Right Speech

Post by Nwad » Mon Sep 16, 2019 7:00 pm

Thank you Perkele ! :anjali:

chownah
Posts: 8165
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Right Speech

Post by chownah » Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:27 am

These are topics which should not be discussed by people who have left into homelessness and are supposed to be at least somewhat renunciant and whose suppposed primary activity is the effort to follow the path.

Where is the list for lay people?
chownah

binocular
Posts: 6493
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Right Speech

Post by binocular » Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:44 am

chownah wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:27 am
Where is the list for lay people?
Lay people are supposed to provide the fodder that the monks aren't supposed to talk about -- you know, be the kings, robbers, & ministers of state that the monks aren't suppsoed to talk about; make the armies, sound the alarms, & engage in battles; make and consume food & drink; clothing, furniture, garlands, & scents; be the relatives; make and have the vehicles; build villages, towns, cities, the countryside; be the women & heroes; make the gossip of the street & the well; tell tall tales of the dead; tales of diversity, the creation of the world & of the sea; and talk of whether things exist or not, all of which the monks are not supposed to talk about. :tongue:

Language proficiency exercises aside, the existence of such a list for lay people would indicate that aspiring to be a lay follower and nothing more, at least not in this lifetime, is perfectly okay. I see no reason to think that the suttas encourage people to settle like that.

The whole idea of being a lay follower of the Buddha is to overcome one's lay status and move into monasticism, not to settle in one's lay status and be comfortable in it (which is what Buddhism as a religion tries to do).
Hence the characteristic tensions, moral qualms, and absence of lay-specific advice that the lay person finds themselves in, and is meant to find themselves in.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 5529
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Right Speech

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:30 pm

binocular wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:44 am

The whole idea of being a lay follower of the Buddha is to overcome one's lay status and move into monasticism, not to settle in one's lay status and be comfortable in it (which is what Buddhism as a religion tries to do).
Hence the characteristic tensions, moral qualms, and absence of lay-specific advice that the lay person finds themselves in, and is meant to find themselves in.
Where is the support for the claim that lay status is to be "overcome", or that there is a distinction between being a lay-follower and Buddhist religiosity?

Tensions, moral qualms and absence of specific advice are just part of being human. If lay people need specific answers to problems, they are encouraged to work things out for themselves or to ask monks.

binocular
Posts: 6493
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Right Speech

Post by binocular » Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:59 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:30 pm
Where is the support for the claim that lay status is to be "overcome", or that there is a distinction between being a lay-follower and Buddhist religiosity?
One cannot attain nibbana as a lay follower, or at least cannot remain a lay follower after having attained nibbana.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 5529
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Right Speech

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:30 pm

binocular wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:59 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:30 pm
Where is the support for the claim that lay status is to be "overcome", or that there is a distinction between being a lay-follower and Buddhist religiosity?
One cannot attain nibbana as a lay follower, or at least cannot remain a lay follower after having attained nibbana.
So it is said. But that doesn't mean lay status has to be overcome. One may be content to make steady progress rather than conclude it; or one might be prepared to take robes after enlightenment. Nor does it say anything in support of there being a difference between lay-followers and the religious.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests