Free speech or Right speech?

What do you think should be regarded as a more suitable standard in a space dedicated to discussion among Dhamma enthusiasts:

  • Absolute fee speech (i.e. the space is a “free marketplace for exchanging ideas” where all opinions are said to be tolerated, even if for example they amount to praising action in breach of the 5 precepts)
  • Free speech bounded by Right speech (cordial speech following the advice given by the Buddha, non divisive, where criticism is expected to be always constructive)
  • Something else (see my comment below)

0 voters

Note: wherever this discussion may go, it should not be expected that the current state of D&D’s community guidelines be altered by it

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I like the use of the word “cordial” in the second option, I think it gives a good sense of what we should be aiming for.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/cordial

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I am positively surprised at how uncontroversial this issue actually is among Dhamma enthusiasts. For some reason, I thought opinions would be more equally distributed. I’m glad to see I was wrong. I hope this doesn’t mean we are (almost) all authoritarian intolerant control freaks. :smile:

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:slight_smile: Perhaps we are a mixed audience, some authoritarian, some apathetic, some very sure of a sense of what is “right”, some skilled in getting their message across, some focussed on the good in all or the potential for good, some asleep, some awake, some having a good day, some not,… Samsara.

May beings be at peace, and ultimately liberated. :slight_smile:

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i am reading Ambaṭṭhasutta. It is very funny. I am not sure it is early-EBT, but it is i think a beneficial read.

Is it about right speech? Which is the number?

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I voted for right speech, however in mn103:

11 8But if you think this: ‘I will be troubled and the other individual will be hurt, for they’re angry and hostile. However, they don’t hold fast to their views, but let them go easily. I can draw them away from the unskillful and establish them in the skillful. But for the other individual to get hurt is a minor matter. It’s more important that I can draw them away from the unskillful and establish them in the skillful.’ If that’s what you think, then it’s appropriate to speak to them.

12 9But if you think this: ‘I will be troubled but the other individual won’t be hurt, for they’re not angry and hostile. However, they hold fast to their views, refusing to let go. Nevertheless, I can draw them away from the unskillful and establish them in the skillful. But for me to be troubled is a minor matter. It’s more important that I can draw them away from the unskillful and establish them in the skillful.’ If that’s what you think, then it’s appropriate to speak to them.

13 2.242 10But if you think this: ‘I will be troubled and the other individual will be hurt, for they’re angry and hostile. And they hold fast to their views, refusing to let go. Nevertheless, I can draw them away from the unskillful and establish them in the skillful. But for me to be troubled and the other individual to get hurt is a minor matter. It’s more important that I can draw them away from the unskillful and establish them in the skillful.’ If that’s what you think, then it’s appropriate to speak to them.

14 11But if you think this: ‘I will be troubled and the other individual will be hurt, for they’re angry and hostile. And they hold fast to their views, refusing to let go. I cannot draw them away from the unskillful and establish them in the skillful.’ Don’t underestimate the value of equanimity for such a person.

Furthermore in m122:
“So, Ānanda, treat me as a friend, not as an enemy. That will be for your lasting welfare and happiness. I shall not mollycoddle you like a potter their damp, unfired pots. I shall speak, pushing you again and again, pressing you again and again. The core will stand the test”

Thoughts?

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“Free speech” has become such a loaded and politicised idea I really don’t want to have too much to do with it. I do however think we should be able to speak freely but should also self-impose some order and restriction on our speech and also at times accept external restrictions such as community guidelines/speech that is appropriate for a situation rather than our inclination. Occasionally I fail at this :grin:

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Thank you for answering.

Silence, it is not on Right Speech alone, it is an account of the Buddha handling a vedic brahmin student and his vedic brahmin teacher, and includes a variety of exortations (and even correction, perhaps, on what is a good reason to interrupt a conversation with the Blessed One) to the mendicants about how to think and speak of those calling some people “riff-raff”. :slight_smile: It seems relevant to this thread… But if off topic, let me know, i can delete if of no value).

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This is a very interesting sutta. However, I am not sure how exactly it relates to the rules of conduct most suitable for discussion among Dhamma enthusiasts. Perhaps you could elaborate on how you see this relationship?

Again, I am not sure how it relates to the problem of the most suitable type of speech in a space dedicated to discussion among Dhamma enthusiasts, or what the takeaway should be in that matter. Perhaps you could also elaborate on what made you choose this quote?

Yes, and the danger it seems is to let political, philosophical or perhaps philosophicalo-political ideas and principles take precedence over Dhamma principles.

Could you quote the parts you think are relevant? And no worries, I am not the you-must-be-on-topic-or-else-delete-it type, although it’s obviously appreciated if one explains the relationship between one’s remark with the topic when not obvious :slight_smile:

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1.7At that time several mendicants were walking meditation in the open air. Then the student Ambaṭṭha went up to those mendicants and said: “Gentlemen, where is Master Gotama at present? For we have come here to see him.”

1.8 8Then those mendicants thought: “This Ambaṭṭha is from a well-known family, and he is the pupil of the well-known brahmin Pokkharasāti. The Buddha won’t mind having a discussion together with such respectable persons.” They said to Ambaṭṭha: “Ambaṭṭha, that’s his dwelling, with the door closed. Approach it quietly, without hurrying; go onto the porch, clear your throat, and knock with the latch. The Buddha will open the door.”

1.9 1.90 9So he approached the Buddha’s dwelling and knocked, and the Buddha opened the door. Ambaṭṭha and the other students entered the dwelling. The other students exchanged greetings with the Buddha, and when the greetings and polite conversation were over, sat down to one side. But while the Buddha was sitting, Ambaṭṭha spoke some polite words or other while walking around or standing.

1.10 10So the Buddha said to him: “Ambaṭṭha, is this how you hold a discussion with elderly and senior brahmins, the teachers of teachers: walking around or standing while I’m sitting, speaking some polite words or other?”

2.1. The First Use of the Word “Riffraff”
11“No, Master Gotama. For it is proper for one brahmin to converse with another while both are walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. But as to these shavelings, fake ascetics, riffraff, black spawn from the feet of our Kinsman, I converse with them as I do with Master Gotama.” 1.11“But Ambaṭṭha, you must have come here for some purpose. You should focus on that. Though this Ambaṭṭha is unqualified, he thinks he’s qualified. What is that but lack of qualifications?”

1.12 1.91 12When he said this, Ambaṭṭha became angry and upset with the Buddha because of being described as unqualified. He even attacked and badmouthed the Buddha himself, saying: “The ascetic Gotama will be worsted!” He said to the Buddha: “Master Gotama, the Sakyan clan are rude, harsh, touchy, and argumentative. Riffraff they are, and riffraff they remain! They don’t honor, respect, revere, worship, or venerate brahmins. It is neither proper nor appropriate that the Sakyans—riffraff that they are—don’t honor, respect, revere, worship, or venerate brahmins.” And that’s how Ambaṭṭha denigrated the Sakyans with the word “riffraff” for the first time.


The narrative is long, and amusing. First the brahmin teacher tasks the brahmin vedic student to go to the Buddha, in speech which demonstrates their relationship. The student goes, meets some of the Buddha’s mendicants at the monestary who interrupt their walking meditation to explain to the guest how to interrupt the Buddha in his room or hut. The vedic students and the bhikkus crowd in to that space, and the monks sit (which is polite, a gesture of respect to a teacher). The visiting guest however remains standing, and is questioned by the Buddha about it… He explains his sense of superiority or equality, and when gently mocked by the Buddha as unprepared, responds with anger, expressed in speech in which the visitor characterizes the Buddha’s clan as riff-raff. The Buddha offers correction of the true basis of his view, which is accepted… and the monks in attendenve respond with uproar… and the Buddha corrects their view, including instructions on what it says to interrupt a conversation between a visitor and the Buddha… It goes on, the student eventual returns to his vedic teacher and is disgraced and verbally abused.

Speech, in ordinary life, is more than words, more than the sound of words… It seems to include the intention behind the words, the manner of delivery, the time chosen to speak, the willingness to listen and perhaps accept, … And this amusing narrative demonstrates all that, and probably more not mentioned.

:). edit for link SuttaCentral

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I think the results demonstrate that the opposite is the case here. We can cope with different views, we can disagree but remain civil.

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Yes, but :smiley: .

In real life you can see how the person is reacting and you can ensure that the pre-requisite for this admonition are present and that the upbraiding won’t be counter productive.

If I am typing on a forum “my” truth to someone, how likely am I to get the other person to understand the message and be in a position to do so?

The big (Big, BIg, BIG…) issue with forums and impersonal communication mediums such as emails is that you have absolutely no idea what state of mind the person you are writing to will be when they read your email.

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Good point sukha, I’ll try to be increasingly gentle… :smiley:

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This required us to be able to read the other person’s mind. Somebody told me the other day that she mistrusts everyone because she thinks they are doing to her (talking behind her back) what she would do to them, if they did what they did or didn’t do.

When I type ‘with metta’ it is an expression of what I feel really- I have no expectations on how others view it as I have no control over other people’s impression of me. I also don’t think or know if you were referring to this in your post and equally doesn’t matter. However more metta is good, even as a reminder, no?

Metta can be in the form of harsh words- kind words doesn’t necessarily mean there is metta there- might be just the opposite actually. Kindness can also be quietness- when talking anymore just leads to be more dispute.

with metta,

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No mat I wasn’t referring to you I was referring to my quote of mn122, I said the Buddha didn’t use fake Metta, I was referring to the Buddha.

Theoretically though if someone signed a post (not you) -with Metta, and they didn’t feel Metta, then they would be breaking the fourth precept.

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Yes, he chose to speak depending on when it was beneficial to the other person (real metta), and not it was pleasing but unbeneficial (fake metta).

True- I also use it as a kind of practice to generate metta as the Buddha has said to mendicants that developing even a moment of metta means that one is not eating the alms-food of the populace in vain.

with metta

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@sukha excellent points. I agree, and would add: non virtual communication has immense amounts of data which the human body and cultures evolved to expect as part of the input. These include tone of voice, body language, pheromones and other scents, tempo, eye contact, and more. Without these, our pattern recognizing and pattern making brains fills in with conditioning, which can be hopes, fears, associations from imperfectly remembered pasts… The mitigating effects of these channels is lost, but may not be consciously missed… So you have possibly unreasonable surity in the interpretation most obvious to you… as do all the other participants.

Perhaps this is implicit in what you wrote. Or perhaps a thinly linked tangent… Or perhaps merely reflective of some thoughts this life has been exploring for a few decades. lol

Yet. here we ate, scattered over our world, communicating together. How wonderful is that?