SuttaCentral

Some advice on avoiding idle talk

right-speech
idle-talk
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#1

This is an article from Chocolate Socrates that, while not from a Buddhist perspective, per se, some may find helpful in their pursuit of right speech.


#2

Hmm, after reading about, say, 1 minute (about 1/3 of the suggested time) I felt this is “idle read” …


#3

Thanks for sharing you opinion.


#4

Thanks for sharing! Reminds me of Dhammapada 252-253:

It’s easy to see
the errors of others,
but hard to see
your own.
You winnow like chaff
the errors of others,
but conceal your own–
like a cheat, an unlucky throw.

If you focus on the errors of others,
constantly finding fault,
your effluents flourish.
You’re far from their ending.

I’ll readily admit gossip is so juicy, yet so harmful.

Dhp 69: So long as an evil deed has not ripened, the fool thinks it as sweet as honey. But when the evil deed ripens, the fool comes to grief.


#5

Thank you so very much, @TamHanhHi! I find your ability to relate your posts directly to the Suttas to be very inspiring!

Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu!


#6

Yes that article has got some resonance the content of the Suttas. The criteria for deciding what is worth saying

[1] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial (or: not connected with the goal), unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

[2] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

[3] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing & disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.

[4] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.

[5] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.

[6] “In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, and endearing & agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. Why is that? Because the Tathagata has sympathy for living beings.”

MN 58

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-vaca/index.html


#7

Thanks for posting this snippet. :slight_smile:

This verse (and others in the canon) make it so clear that eradication of pride and arrogance, and cultivating a willingness to admit and acknowledge mistakes, false-steps and waywardness in the past is pretty much the foundation that can result in the arising of true wisdom. It’s liberating to step outside the world of gossip and idle chatter, where the foibles of others are dug-up and judged endlessly, but one’s own conceit, deficiencies and delusions remain buried under layers of self-flattering mud.


#8

I find Right Speech to be a challenge. I find myself slipping into gossipy speech sometimes, usually when I’m feeling frustrated with other people, or with myself. A little bit of metta goes a long way though.


#9

Yeah, it’s tough avoiding gossip, especially with coworkers. My strategy has been to work by myself as often as possible, and to let my managers know that I prefer to work alone.


#10

Not surprisingly, scholarly studies indicate that small talk and idle chatter serve a social function by promoting cohesiveness and structuring social interactions. Two examples:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/S15327973RLSI3601_1?journalCode=hrls20

One would think that a useful distinction can be made between small talk that merely provides opportunities for socialization and that which has the aim of bringing harm to others. Following the principle of Right Speech would entail adopting a neutral position towards the former while avoiding the latter.

One unanticipated consequence I have encountered in attending a Wat that is made up mostly of laypeople from Southeast Asia (I am an English-speaker in the United States) is that most of the small talk people engage in during the communal meals after Sunday services is in either Thai or Lao. My practice is to simply listen, smile, and compliment people for cooking delicious food. This past Sunday there were very few laypeople in attendance. At one point during the all-Thai small talk one of the kind ladies in attendance cheerfully commented to me, “We’re joking about you.” My reaction? If they are joking about me, they must have accepted me into the group! :grin:


#11

The Buddha started with setting his audience at ease according to EBTs. Talking can go beyond small talk for social or other purposes. https://escholarship.org/content/qt1z69d6wm/qt1z69d6wm.pdf. Especially in a retreat setting when the 8 precepts are kept this would erode samadhi. We could compare this with the allowed kinds of discussion.