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Causes and conditions for happiness on this forum

anicca-and-anatta
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#1

Good Morning Kalyanamittas,

Please note, this post is not about any specific people or posts, ie this is not criticism, but a way to look at how we can each reduce our suffering and increase happiness and equanimity while participating.

Things that definitely cause suffering;
If one has a belief, or a requirement, that external conditions (including views) will be a particular way, then one will always suffer when they are not. All formations are impermanent and unsatisfactory.

Being impermanent one has no control over them. Views are in constant flux both within ourselves and in every other being. All formations are not self.

On the forum, suffering is guaranteed if one attaches importance to views, or requires them to be in a specific way. Given that we are all human, and on the path, as opposed to fully realised Arahants, we try to mitigate the suffering by operating from a set of guidelines. These try to embody right speech as far as possible in this environment, but this is a very tricky line to pursue.

We, as moderators, do not so much judge views, as the way that they are expressed. The exceptions to this are specific conspiracy theories and hate speech, as outlined in the forum guidelines. Link at the bottom.

But the important question is

What are the causes and conditions for happiness, especially when participating in an online forum like this one? I invite everyone to list the methods they have developed to minimise the suffering and to increase happiness, peace and equanimity while participating here.

My own list to start us off :slight_smile:

Never come online when grumpy or dissatisfied.
Avoid the critisising mind
Always take the kindest option
Notice the reactions one has, and use these for active practice and mind training
Remember there is an ‘off’ button on the computer :smile::wink::slightly_smiling_face:

I look forward to hearing about the many methods, strategies and tricks you have all developed.

May all beings be free of suffering - on this forum :smiley:

:anjal::dharmawheel::anjal:


#2

Thank you Viveka for pointing this out :slight_smile:

As Ajahn Brahm says, always make harmony and peace more importaint than being right. :heart: Of course peaceful discussion is great, but it is better to change discussion towards kindness and connection rather than going very strongly to “win it” and being hurtful in the process.

Use every discussion as a means to connect people rather than divide them, including all kinds of people and beings. This in itself says more about true Dhamma than scholarly knowledge. :pray:

Remember that true wisdom and upekkha is founded on metta, compassion and mudita. :slight_smile:

Keep in mind that for many people this forum isn’t just discussion panel, but also a place to be with dhamma companions and to make our day a little better. So the vibe and mood is as importaint as quality of discussion. :slight_smile:

Before posting, read that post as if you were the other person reading it. What will that person feel reading this post? Will it make feel him/her good, will it enrich his/her practice? Will it bring something positive qualities in the heart/mind?

:anjal:


#3

Take care not to:
talk too much
talk too fast
talk without being asked to
talk gratuitously
talk with your hands
talk about worldly affairs
talk back rudely
argue
smile condescendingly at others’ words
use elegant expressions
boast
avoid speaking directly
speak with a knowing air
jump from topic to topic
use fancy words
speak of past events that cannot be changed
speak like a pedant
avoid direct questions
speak ill of others
speak grandly of enlightenment
carry on while drunk
speak in an obnoxious manner
yell at children
make up fantastic stories
speak while angry
name-drop
ignore the people to whom you are speaking
speak sanctimoniously of Gods and Buddhas
use sugary speech
use flattering speech
speak of things of which you have no knowledge
monopolize the conversation
talk about others behind their backs
speak with conceit
bad-mouth others
chant prayers ostentatiously
complain about the amount of alms
give long-winded sermons
speak affectedly like an artist
speak affectedly like a tea master

MY PRECEPTS – ZEN MASTER RYOKAN


#4

Invo said it well with these points:


#5

Just post to end suffering.

:heart:
:pray:


#6

What are the causes and conditions for happiness, especially when participating in an online forum like this one?

  • Don’t take anything personally.
  • If you cannot resist taking it personally, remember: anything said is more about the speaker than listeners. Metta, metta, metta.
  • Don’t say things hurtfully.
  • If you cannot resist saying things hurtfully, remember: anything said is more about the speaker than listeners. Metta, metta, metta.
    *Ditto on anything heard.
  • Spiritual friendship: SuttaCentral

#7

My views exist, but I should share them sparingly. Before I share them I should consider thus, ‘Is my view reasonable or am I just wanting to shout louder than other people?’ I should also consider thus, ‘Could expressing my reasonable view cause harm or distress to any person of good will who hears it?’

While I was considering how to phrase the above, I came across this exchange, which asks even more of us:

Viveka:

I think that the point you make about expressing views and opinions is excellent advice, and should be adopted by everyone. It fits in with the tone of our guidelines, but benefits from clear articulation here.

Akaliko:

stop themselves and think twice before blithely giving their opinions about things they have never experienced, . Users here should question feeling entitled to make their voices heard on this forum about issues that don’t affect them.

I have picked this point, as one that is good to apply across the board and in all contexts.

There are certain topics (I’m sure we all know which ones) that would have far fewer pixels devoted to them if this rubric were followed. :rofl::joy::upside_down_face:


#8

These intentions are all good. And yet, the Blessed One demonstrated a similar standard with one important difference.

When asked whether he uses disagreeable speech, a challenge intended to embarrass him (by either calling him common if he said yes, or by pointing out the harsh words he used on Devadatta if he said no), the Buddha answered that it isn’t that simple (not a yes-or-no question). He brought up a metaphor of making efforts to saving a choking child, which his questioner acknowledged he’d do even if his finger drew the child’s blood, out of compassion for the child; then said:

“Even so, Prince, [1, no] whatever speech the Tathāgata knows to be not fact, not true, not connected with the goal, and that is not liked by others, disagreeable to them, that speech the Tathāgata does not utter. [2, no] And whatever speech a Tathāgata knows to be fact, true, but not connected with the goal, and not liked by others, disagreeable 63 to them, neither does the Tathagata utter that speech. [3, yes] And whatever speech the Tathāgata knows to be fact, true, connected with the goal, but not liked by others, disagreeable to them, the Tathagata is aware of the right time for explaining that speech. [4, no] Whatever speech the Tathagata knows to be not fact, not true, not connected with the goal, but that is liked by others, agreeable to them, that speech the Tathagata does not utter. [5, no] And whatever speech the Tathagata knows to be fact, true, but not connected with the goal, yet liked by others, agreeable to them, neither does the Tathagata utter that speech.[6, yes] And whatever speech the Tathagata knows to be fact, true, connected with the goal, and liked by others, agreeable to them, the Tathagata is aware of the right time for explaining that speech.
11What is the reason for this? It is, Prince, that the Tathagata has compassion for creatures.” MN 58: With Prince Abhaya

And when those living the holy life become unwilling to rebuke one of their fellows, considering him untrustworthy, it is said to be his “death”. (On being trustworthy enough for admonishment, see MN 15 Measuring Up; on destruction in the holy life by non-admonition, see AN 4.111 To Kesi the Horsetrainer )

So there may be situations calling for speech that won’t go over well. They should be rare occasions, and worded carefully following all five courses of right speech: only words that are timely, true, gentle, with good intentions, and expressed with mettā (loving-kindness). MN 21 Let’s not reject on principle words that could bring an important albeit unpopular message for spiritual growth.


#9

Dear Ayya this is absolutely true, and something that the moderators really struggle with. There is no disagreement with what the Buddha says here, only the complication, that being an online forum, what one can know about another, us severely limited.
The Buddha advised to pick the right time and the right circumstances to admonish someone, so that it is more beneficial than harmful, this is very difficult to do online. Moderators have to do this (the horrible part of the job) and it is always about the benefits to the community as a whole, rather than just about the individual. Even so one is forced to act only on what is written, which really tells us virtually nothing about the person. So I would say that a forum member is less likely to make mistakes (even if the intention is good) to avoid admonishment on a forum like this. Admonishment can be done by raising flags, and to leave the task to moderators :slightly_smiling_face:.
It seems that harsh speech tends to come easier than right speech though, and so this topic was precisely to learn from each other what strategies are helpful to use on a forum like this to increase the ease and peace of participation.
Wouldn’t it be great if the speech and atmosphere was so skillful, that one could not help but be happy and learn from it :pray::slightly_smiling_face:
So what you say is absolutely true Ayya, and thank you, but let’s just keep focusing on the positive strategies in this thread.
We have discussed the points you raise in other threads, and perhaps this side of the equation can be discussed there
:anjal: :dharmawheel: :anjal:


#10

Sometimes it’s just cutting each other some slack. We’re all human, and we all screw up sometimes.


#11

Suffering is a vital condition for faith.
Faith is a vital condition for joy.
SN12.23

I.e., Posting for joy without suffering is…impossible. Therefore it is delusion to expect or require only happy posts. This where faith becomes crucial.


#12

Well Karl, I know that suffering exists, but I have more wholesome happiness when people are nice to each other on here than when they are being nasty and unkind.

Striving for a happy communal environment is something that the Buddha emphasised, eg

As long as the monks meet in harmony, adjourn from their meetings in harmony, and conduct Sangha business in harmony, their growth can be expected, not their decline. (AN7.23)


#13

Yes. And we also post about suffering. It is necessary to do so for discussing the Dhamma. Yet it is not necessary to cause each other suffering. And that is where moderation and restraint are critical to faith.


#14

Of course. :slightly_smiling_face:


#15

To expand: I’m sure we both agree that we post about the fact of suffering, but when we do so we seek not to manufacturer more suffering for each other. I think that’s the purpose of Viveka’s OP. :smiley:


#16

Joining a Buddhist online forum makes me happy because it provides me with a sense of community and a chance to discuss my faith. I also think that having an unbiased platform where both lay and monastic practitioners are equal before the truth is cool :slightly_smiling_face: