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False speech vs slanderous speech - Dhamma Wheel

False speech vs slanderous speech

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Stiphan
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False speech vs slanderous speech

Postby Stiphan » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:43 pm

There may be situations where you can't avoid either. Take, for example, the following situation which is based on a real one:

An English man who speaks only English, a Swedish Buddhist boy who speaks both English and Swedish, and two Swedish women who speak only Swedish and are valued employees of the Englishman, are travelling with a minibus through the countryside. During the journey, while the two women are talking to each other, one of them starts cussing, swearing and talking bad things about the Englishman in Swedish. When the group arrives in a village, the Englishman asks the boy: "What was that woman talking about?" And the boy says "She didn't say nice things, sir." And the man says: "I could feel that. Did she say bad things about me? What did she say exactly?".

Now, if the boy says "She said many bad things about you and even cussed you, sir. She said this and she said that..", then the boy would be engaging in slanderous speech. If the boy says "She didn't say anything bad about you, sir.", then the boy would be lying.

What should the boy say, and is it at all possible to avoid both wrongs in such a situation? Which is the lesser evil: lying or slander?
Last edited by Stiphan on Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.

santa100
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Re: False speech vs slanderous speech

Postby santa100 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:10 pm

The boy could've prevented the awkward situation by intercepting the women right of the moment they started talking bad things about the Englishman. That way he prevented the women from commiting slandering kamma at first place. He could forewarn the women in Swedish something like "the Englishman might understand some Swedish words and he might ask me to translate what you two said later on. And you two probably know all along how much I hate lying"...something like that..

santa100
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Re: False speech vs slanderous speech

Postby santa100 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:26 pm

..And in case it already happened, then out of compassion for the two women who might potentially face getting fired and thus creating potential misery for their two families, I'd take the lesser of the 2 devils by side-stepping the boss' question. Then later on, separately meet and firmly warn the 2 women with the same statement in the previous post and add something like: "don't blame me for not warning you ahead of time"..

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Cittasanto
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Re: False speech vs slanderous speech

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:48 pm

Hi Stefan
pisuṇāya vācāya paṭivirato hoti - Refraining from malicious speech isn't a precept, it is a kusaladhamma a skilful action, so Lying is the greater wrong. also the Buddha said that any wrong action is possible for one who intentionally lies!

The thing with this situation is that she is being very ungrateful, and engaging in Gossip and malicious speech herself, it could be seen as actions which bare immediate results i.e. the results are in this life if the Boy does tell the Englishman, and she was brass enough to do it infront of the man in a manner he could not fully understand, she essentially put a knife in her own back.

I work in a situation where I am the only one who doesn't speak the same language as those around me, and would walk out if I found out they were.


He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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acinteyyo
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Re: False speech vs slanderous speech

Postby acinteyyo » Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:01 pm

The swedish boy doesn't need to tell the english man everything in detail. Sometimes it's skillful to just avoid conversation which no one benefits from...

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: False speech vs slanderous speech

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:38 pm

• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

perkele
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Re: False speech vs slanderous speech

Postby perkele » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:10 pm


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Cittasanto
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Re: False speech vs slanderous speech

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:03 pm

One thing that just occurred to me is that the young man is potentially making it possible for any issues there are that the Englishman is unaware of to be addressed and possibly uniting those who are divided.


He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

perkele
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Re: False speech vs slanderous speech

Postby perkele » Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:30 pm


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retrofuturist
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Re: False speech vs slanderous speech

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:14 pm

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

danieLion
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Re: False speech vs slanderous speech

Postby danieLion » Tue Feb 28, 2012 1:10 am


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retrofuturist
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Re: False speech vs slanderous speech

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:04 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

danieLion
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Re: False speech vs slanderous speech

Postby danieLion » Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:11 am

Thanks, Retro. Quite helpful. I really like your new signature, too.
Goodwill.
Daniel


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