Are unkind words wrong speech?


‘not misrepresenting the Buddha’ is my intention, which is said to be a serious bad kamma/action, ‘clearly understanding the Buddha’s teaching’ is my intention

evidence to me is, such clear redefinitions as we find: ‘in the Buddha’s teaching ‘death’ means giving up a higher training’. anything else is just conjecture to me.


Yes, I agree, this is of paramount importance.

Would I be right to take it that, to you, it is a misrepresentation to say that the Buddha gave any indication that right timing is a constituent aspect of Right Speech?

I’m afraid I don’t quite understand what you mean by this; perhaps you would clarify?


I think you’re right that this distinction I made between different forms of communication also occurs within the same form. Thanks for pointing this out. :slight_smile:

I could continue that the skills generated internally in the mind have their natural application externally (Halliday’s notion of language as a social semiotic is very useful here), so that their external manifestation in social interaction becomes quite important. & of course, by external I mean both in a digital forum and in face-to-face conversation.

You’ve sure called me on my use of ‘know’. I’m afraid I was probably just striving for elegant variation rather than an accurate expression of degrees of knowledge. Also there is a distinction between ontological knowing and ‘knowing somebody’ socially. For example, I could say to a friend, “Yes I know that person you mention from my Friday night class” without claiming an in-depth and thorough knowledge of them.


Yes he also meant physical death💀 too


Yes, I understand, but is this example more about actions than words? You are doing something with good intention here. The words would then be explaining to the student why you have made a referral, presumably explaining that you have their best interests at heart.


karl_lew, I simply can’t comprehend how much courage and self-honesty it would have taken to make such an admission. Hopefully one day I’ll acquire the same mental qualities and come to terms with the decades and decades of hell that I was dragged through…

Unkind speech pales in comparison with the smallest of phrases delivered with goodwill and kindness that can cause a huge impact - sometimes on some faceless person probably halfway around the world…


That’s fine, but clearly there are different interpretations about what the EBTs mean. People who don’t share your interpretation aren’t “misrepresenting” anything or attacking you personally, they just have a different opinion.


I was a child then. He was larger and choking me at the time. So I decided to kill him. Right then. Right there I decided to end him. And I tried. Tried my best, right then, right there. To kill. He was larger, adept at fighting and simply punched me in the stomach and knocked me out.

When he knocked me out, I could not breath. I went down like a sack of potatoes.

When I awoke a few minutes later, my eyes opened to see the wide blue sky. A vast blue clear emptiness up there, all around, enfolding us all. A vast peace without anything at all to do or want or anything at all. That puzzled me. That peace puzzled me. Until I read this year about the breathless absorption. Click.

Why did that other boy choke me?

Perhaps because I had spoken unkind words and he wished silence.
I don’t remember those words, but this is what I understand.



This reminds me of a line by Lev Shestov:

But if one becomes intimate with death, if one passes through the needle’s eye of final and terrible solitude, of forsakenness and despair, then one may perhaps succeed in recovering the sacred “by my will,” the primordial and powerful jubere…


Perhaps it was to give you a taste of the



My thought exactly. And I must thank Richard for punching me in the stomach that day. He literally saved us both.

And I would also note, wryly, that being punched in the stomach while absorbed in anger is not an achievement of any sort. It is simply an experience that hints at the possibility of a true experience of the jhanas. Please do not go around punching each other in the stomach seeking the breathless absorption. That would be quite…wrong.


This is imo a very good point, and leads to another: as an internet forum, one cannot know who in the future might read your words long after you have released them from your attention. Even the Buddha, if I recall correctly, did not know the future, though he could see trends and where they led and (it seems) the current karmic balance of a person.

But because change IS possible, the Buddha was freed, the Path to the end of suffering could be taught, and acted upon.

Back to unkind or difficult words in this or any internet forum: it seems wise or skillful to be cautious about potential delayed misunderstandings or other effects. We are NOT on such forums just speaking to the obvious participants; we speak also to quiet lurkers, and those who read later, whose future situations cannot be known.

If our intentions do not consider this, it seems unskillful, and potentially negligent or hazardous, to speak harshly, even if this mode might be skillful in face-to-face communication, from time to time.


Thank you so much.

Wow, you said a mouthful there,Brother. And here I may give you and the contributors to this topic for causing me to take action regarding this perennially sad situation about which I have previously posted.

I had previously asked if I was wrong to have distanced myself from these people mired in poverty and mental illness. And when it was pointed out that I did this in an effort to minimize my own suffering I failed to live up to my Buddhist principles. So I reunited with these three generations of fellow sufferers.

A couple of years later there situation has not improved, and a little eleven year old girl lives in a hovel without electricity, plumbing, a diet of starches, heat but for pieces of wood scavenged from nearby forests, and a broken down, illegal old car.

For over a decade I have witnessed this suffering, and its implications, close-up…always helping…always available…often impotent. So, tired of the poverty stricken ennui, this morning I took action by calling the local law enforcement to ask them to do an anonymous welfare check.

I have seen the effects of doing nothing. I will now witness the cause and effect of what I have done regardless of my compassionate motivation. I did ask to be anonymous. Then I meditated on the possibility that I could be identified and receive retribution.

Is it right or wrong? Honestly clouds obscure my vision. I could have done nothing and protected myself, while those I care about languish in their own grim misery. Would it be wrong speech to deny my involvement? Do I have an obligation to admit my complicity in what may be far reaching, unforeseen cause and effect?

Thank you all for being here. And I hope I did not cause you any suffering with this rather heavy description of my personal situation. I thought that if I have gone off the rail, so to speak, that you all would be the right ones to trust for an appropriate way to view this.

So much gratitude for you. with Metta.


Dear Rosie, Much Metta to you, a very difficult situation indeed.

One thing to perhaps keep in mind, is that no matter the outcomes now, it will be your reactions to them, to watch.



I think regardless of the outcome you have done the right thing!


Thank you. I hope to learn much about my own suffering.

I appreciate that, Mat.


This is indeed a hard situation. It seems that a welfare check was indicated. If the immediate effects turn out to be distressing, please think that the long-term results can still be beneficial. IMO you have done a compassionate act.


Thank you, Gillian for lightening my heart. W/Metta


As I reread this lovely topic, I realized that I had gone slightly off it. But what I did not say was that I had used all the words, both forceful and not so…to no avail. Then I went beyond the words to take action. But if my comment belongs on another topic…SORRY! :roll_eyes::slightly_smiling_face:


Hardly. You took us to Right Action. Good work!