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Right Speech

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  • macdocaz1@aol.com
    On Right Speech It seems that I continue to receive some very confrontational and even offensive messages from people who are incensed that I would criticize
    Message 1 of 5 , Feb 5, 2004
      On Right Speech

      It seems that I continue to receive some very confrontational and even
      offensive messages from people who are incensed that I would criticize their
      unflawed, perfect and righteous tradition. Please understand I have no intention to
      belabor debate.

      When I criticize various traditions and religions (including Theravadan
      Buddhism) for assumptions, beliefs or practices that I find unproductive for the
      greater good, or the journey to nibbana, I invariably encounter some criticism.
      The typical argument is based upon invoking the Noble Eight Fold Path, by
      questioning whether my criticism is a violation of Right Speech (samma-vaca).

      What the Abhaya Sutta, MN 58, says on the issue of speaking out, when an
      issue seems to be harming to the dhamma, I found very interesting. I recommend
      reading the whole sutta, it is only a few pages. But I will not burden you with
      the whole thing here. I will just quote a few stanzas.

      Please note the Buddha was speaking from his point of view, so please do not
      assume that I am saying that I am a Tathagata . I only want to point out,
      that anyone in the greater sangha has a right and a responsibility to challenge
      beliefs and practices in the sangha that they do not believe follow the dhamma.

      Abhaya Sutta, MN 58

      "Now at that time a baby boy was lying face-up on the prince's lap. So the
      Blessed One said to the prince, "What do you think, prince: If this young boy,
      through your own negligence or that of the nurse, were to take a stick or a
      piece of gravel into its mouth, what would you do?"

      "I would take it out, lord. If I couldn't get it out right away, then holding
      its head in my left hand and crooking a finger of my right, I would take it
      out, even if it meant drawing blood. Why is that? Because I have sympathy for
      the young boy."

      "In the same way, prince:

      [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."

      [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..."

      "Magnificent, lord! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was
      overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost,
      or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in
      the same way has the Blessed One -- through many lines of reasoning -- made the
      Dhamma clear. I go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the
      Sangha of monks. May the Blessed One remember me as a lay follower who has gone
      to him for refuge, from this day forward, for life."
      http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/sutta/majjhima/mn058.html

      Please understand I am not invoking the authority of a Tathagata. I am only
      saying that anyone in the greater sangha has a right and a responsibility to
      "place upright what was overturned," or to speak out on beliefs and practices
      of their tradition or religion that they perceive as unproductive to the dhamma
      and sangha. I do not however believe that gives anyone the right to
      endlessly filibuster for their agenda. Because there is a right time and place for
      everything.

      Access To Insight has a excellent discourse on Right Speech (Samma-Vaca)
      http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/samma-vaca.html

      May you become enlightened in this very lifetime,

      Jeff Brooks
    • Charles Perera
      Dear Jeff, This is a strange argument you put forward. As laymen even if we are maditating long hours day and night and attained stream entry as well, we
      Message 2 of 5 , Feb 9, 2004
        Dear Jeff,

        This is a strange argument you put forward. As laymen even if we are maditating long hours day and night and attained stream entry as well, we cannot taking on ourselves to make any critical remark about the dhamma. That would show an essential lack of Saddha, or confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. If you seem to disagree it is best you clarify it from those would know it better or a member of the Order of the Sangha before you speak publicly about it.

        What is more strange is when you say"......I am only
        saying that anyone in the greater sangha has a right and a responsibility to "place upright what was overturned," or to speak out on beliefs and ractices of their tradition or religion that they perceive as unproductive to the dhamma".

        You are not "in the greater sangha" and you cannot on your own appropriate that right. Therefore it is better discuss dhamma about which you have no disagreement and leave the rest out without trying to creat dissention and polemics.

        with great metta,

        Hasituppada
        _________________________________________________________

        macdocaz1@... wrote:

        On Right Speech


        Please understand I am not invoking the authority of a Tathagata.

        I am only saying that anyone in the greater sangha has a right and a responsibility to
        "place upright what was overturned," or to speak out on beliefs and practices
        of their tradition or religion that they perceive as unproductive to the dhamma
        and sangha.

        I do not however believe that gives anyone the right to endlessly filibuster for their agenda. Because there is a right time and place for everything.


        Jeff Brooks





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        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Migou25@aol.com
        Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu! Taranatha [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        Message 3 of 5 , Feb 9, 2004
          Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu!

          Taranatha


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • rett
          ... Dear Charles and others, Some of the conflict may come from there being two meanings of the word critical . In one sense it means to criticize something,
          Message 4 of 5 , Feb 9, 2004
            >
            >This is a strange argument you put forward. As laymen even if we
            >are maditating long hours day and night and attained stream entry as
            >well, we cannot taking on ourselves to make any critical remark
            >about the dhamma. That would show an essential lack of Saddha, or
            >confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.

            Dear Charles and others,

            Some of the conflict may come from there being two meanings of the
            word 'critical'. In one sense it means to criticize something, and
            disparage it. In the other sense it means to constructively sift
            through evidence and draw careful conclusions. I agree that a person
            with Saddha would never disparage the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. That
            would be a contradiction in terms. However a person with Saddha could
            very well study the texts in which the Dhamma is preserved for us,
            with a a critical attitude, in the second, positive, sense. This
            would be a way to try to sift the essential points from the less
            essential points. Whether one is a monk or a layman makes no
            difference in this regard. In the same way a layman can be critical
            of monks who do not live up their responsibilities. It's even a duty
            of laymen to do so. But again, this would not be to disparage the
            Sangha as a whole, only to try to help uphold the ideals.

            To me, your post above conflates the two senses of critical, and also
            conflates the Three Gems with their worldy, and not always perfect
            representatives. The Ariyasangha is by definition perfect, but not
            every monk is perfect. The Dhamma is perfect, but not every text
            claiming to record the Dhamma is perfect. So for a person with strong
            faith, it could actually be an expression of their faith for them to
            be critical. They have an such strong and implicit faith in the three
            gems that there is no risk or harm in taking a critical look at their
            representatives.

            best regards,

            /Rett
          • Norman Joseph [Jou] Smith
            ... Hi All I agree wholeheartedly with what Rett says below, pls see other comments. ... And I see that is what the Buddha encouraged when he said make a
            Message 5 of 5 , Feb 11, 2004
              > -----Original Message-----
              > From: rett [mailto:rett@...]
              > Sent: Monday, 09 February, 2004 11:37 PM
              > To: Pali@yahoogroups.com
              > Subject: Re: [Pali] Right Speech

              Hi All

              I agree wholeheartedly with what Rett says below, pls see other
              comments.

              > >This is a strange argument you put forward. As laymen even if we
              > >are maditating long hours day and night and attained stream entry as
              > >well, we cannot taking on ourselves to make any critical remark
              > >about the dhamma. That would show an essential lack of Saddha, or
              > >confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.
              >
              > Dear Charles and others,
              >
              > Some of the conflict may come from there being two meanings of the
              > word 'critical'. In one sense it means to criticize something, and
              > disparage it. In the other sense it means to constructively sift
              > through evidence and draw careful conclusions.

              And I see that is what the Buddha encouraged when he said "make a
              thorough investigation", which the context shows would refer to the
              external records of the teachings, not just internals - the four
              foundations.

              > I agree that a person
              > with Saddha would never disparage the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. That
              > would be a contradiction in terms. However a person with Saddha could
              > very well study the texts in which the Dhamma is preserved for us,
              > with a a critical attitude, in the second, positive, sense. This
              > would be a way to try to sift the essential points from the less
              > essential points.

              Taking the unessential for the essential one would never arrive at the
              essential [Dhammapada]

              > Whether one is a monk or a layman makes no
              > difference in this regard. In the same way a layman can be critical
              > of monks who do not live up their responsibilities. It's even a duty
              > of laymen to do so. But again, this would not be to disparage the
              > Sangha as a whole, only to try to help uphold the ideals.
              >
              > To me, your post above conflates the two senses of critical, and also
              > conflates the Three Gems with their worldy, and not always perfect
              > representatives. The Ariyasangha is by definition perfect, but not
              > every monk is perfect. The Dhamma is perfect, but not every text
              > claiming to record the Dhamma is perfect. So for a person with strong
              > faith, it could actually be an expression of their faith for them to
              > be critical. They have an such strong and implicit faith in the three
              > gems that there is no risk or harm in taking a critical look at their
              > representatives.

              In presenting right speech in accordance with Abhaya Sutta, MN 58, it
              should be true, beneficial and either pleasant or unpleasant, but
              knowing the right time for both.

              One aspect of "true" would be indicated by this quote:

              "If a person has a conviction, his statement, 'This is my conviction,'
              safeguards the truth. But he doesn't yet come to the definite conclusion
              that 'Only this is true; anything else is worthless.' To this extent,
              Bhaaradvaaja, there is the safeguarding of the truth. To this extent one
              safeguards the truth. I describe this as the safeguarding of the truth,
              but it is not yet an awakening to the truth" M 95 : M ii 171

              Basically, one acknowledges in one's speech that one is talking about
              one's beliefs or convictions. The various ways of doing that without
              sounding boring become obvious to one, as one practices. Those who do
              not want to test this teaching might say "of course what I say is my
              belief", but why would one not want to test a teaching of the Buddha? As
              for me, when I had resistance to this teaching, I later saw it was
              laziness based on arrogance. "I don't want to do that, 'cause I know
              that it would make no difference, so would be a waste of time and
              energy." Without having tested it, one would not KNOW, one would only
              BELIEVE "it would make no difference, so would be a waste of time and
              energy", in my opinion. And that is exactly the result of not doing the
              practice, one takes one's belief as truth and cannot listen to another
              talking about their belief.

              ----------------------------------------------------
              Wishing peace and good health to you and those close to you from
              Norman Joseph (Jou) Smith

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