Seeking references

Also this sutta SuttaCentral reveals the causes of not knowing the good of oneself or others.

Best wishes

One more ref I can’t locate yet:

We even have the story of an outside teacher trying to trap the Buddha on grounds of speaking pleasant or unpleasant speech (Reff??).

Are you thinking of MN 58 maybe Bhante?

1 Like

Yes, thanks so much. that’s it!

It also has the simile of the child, to show how harsh words can be out of compassion!

And another example of harsh speech, that to Devadatta.

Venerable, if I may add and for the sake of accuracy, MN58 show how the harsh words from the Buddha can indeed be spoken out of compassion and in very specific circumstances.

This is for the words uttered by the Buddha always came from a place of very deep knowledge of the human mind and compassion, as explained towards the end of the aforementioned sutta.

Again, text interpretation is all about context, context, context

P.S.: Please understand that my replies here have as main motivation to make sure people don’t misinterpret what the suttas have to say on the topic of harsh speech, and highlight that, above all, the suttas only depict awakened individuals, such as the Buddha, being in the position of making use of harsh speech out of compassion.
Moreover, the suttas indicate that that is the case exactly because these individuals would have spoken from a place of very deep knowledge, wisdom and compassion.
In no ways I am here trying to focus on individuals or events.
Above all, my intent here is to discuss explore the idea and ideal of right speech pointed in the suttas as appropriate for us all, unawakened beings, to develop, pursue and cultivate.
And I come from a place of seeing horrible things said, done and encouraged under the context of misinterpretation of suttas, especially on the important topic of right speech. :sweat:

While I absolutely agree the simile in the sutta works exactly because parents know how sometimes they have to behave in a strict or harsh way that the child doesn’t understand - and parents are not Buddhas. So the context suggests that also for normal people there is sometimes ‘good harsh behavior’.

This should not open the flood gates to all kinds of behavior, but it’s also not the case that we are all ignorant sinners. ‘Passive aggressiveness’ can be very polite and kind, and not even uttered purposefully, and yet after the interaction the aggression level is high and it has to be reconstructed what was going on. And ugh, spiritual circles are very skillful in passive aggressiveness - because of course they are not allowed to criticize directly… so, it stays complicated, with or without dhamma guidelines.


If you have developed mind reading skills, which even give ability to read minds of people who type on the internet, then well-done indeed. If not, then I just consider ‘us all, unawakened beings’ as quite an arrogant statement.

The Buddha, has layed down the course of practice, imo. Working out what is right speech and the conditions for it, is part of that, imo. Any discouragement to do so, is discouragement to progress in Dhamma and is not the behaviour of a Noble One, imo.

Best wishes

Thanks for all your input.

I think the article is complete and you can read it here. It’s called “The Emotional Buddha”.

I’m seeking references to show that even if the Buddha said something that would be beneficial to the hearer, they did not reflect on it wisely and benefit. This is actually taught as part of the Path of Stream Entry:
-association with the wise
-listening to what they say
-wise reflection
-practice accordingly
This shows there is a duty on both sides of a teaching of Dhamma, if progress is to be made, so non acceptance, or negative reaction is not proof that the words were spoken badly.

The one I can think of is, shortly after the Buddha’s enlightenment, he declared it to a wanderer, who shrugged it off in disbelief and went on his way.

Then there is Devadatta.

We can see the reasoning in people who make themselves hard to correct, in e.g. the story of the Monks Assaji and Punabbasuka refusing to test instructions from the Buddha. . They put up their logical arguments and seemingly rational justifications, but when one is trapped in Wrong View, there is a consistent internal logic. That’s why logic is only useful to determine what the path is most likely to be, then there has to be testing (#4 in the Path to SE above).

  1. “Monks, even with a teacher who is concerned with material things, an heir to material things, attached to material things, such haggling [by his disciples] would not be proper: ‘If we get this, we will do it; if we don’t get this, we won’t do it’; so what [should be said when the teacher is] the Thus-come, who is utterly detached from material things?
  2. “Monks, for a faithful disciple who is intent on fathoming the Teacher’s Dispensation, it is proper that he conduct himself thus: ‘The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple; the Blessed One knows, I do not know.’ For a faithful disciple who is intent on fathoming the Teacher’s Dispensation, the Teacher’s Dispensation is nourishing and refreshing…”

I imagine, it’s ones who respond with ‘drooped shoulders’ indicating shame, (one of the saving graces: shame and dread), who are more likely to recover, rather than those who argue their position, like the monks above.