|Original Art created by NeoYas available on Flickr.com|
There's an old saying that goes, "The mouth is the gateway to calamity." In Buddhism, all our actions are subject to the Law of Cause and Effect. That means everything we think, say, or do... CAN and WILL be used against us. When we are are using thoughtless and heartless words, we are performing a bad action. Bad-mouthing as an action plants seeds of karma that will later come back to haunt us with terrible consequences. And we'd better be prepared, because it'll be equal to the negative feelings we projected onto the person we didn't like.
As we've learned from the Law of Cause and Effect, a good deed makes a good result. A bad deed makes a bad result. Everything we do determines each of our own individual results to come.
So if you talk badly about that guy at your work, it is you who will later have to face negative consequences. But you might be thinking, "Well, what I'm saying isn't that bad..." or "She deserved it. I don't care."
However, Buddhism stresses that various evils come out of our mouths as easily as a yawn. Most of the things we say about others goes unchecked and we think it's OK, when in fact -- those words are abusive.
|Original Photo taken by LauraLewis23 available at Flickr.com|
Bad-mouthing someone is a form of abuse. It includes saying negative things, putting people down, and cursing at them. Sometimes in the movies, we become entertained by actors and comedians who skillfully word their clever insults about other people. It may be amusement for a couple of hours with a bowl of popcorn on a Friday night, but when we invoke the same foul language toward someone in our life, the negativity it creates will only bring harm down the road for us. Even if you don't mean the words you are saying, they are still hurtful and carry a negative energy.
Why is it so easy to be critical of someone who isn't present? Haven't we all experienced moments where we've felt criticized? Yet in those moments, when we found out people had been saying "You suck" behind our backs, it didn't feel all that great, did it?
Talking badly about someone is like killing them. Each negative word you're using against that person becomes like a murder weapon. In this way, our words continue to torment others unknowingly day in, day out.
Here's a short story from the book, Something You Forgot Along the Way to use as an example.
A very old woman, over 120 years of age, once had a visitor who commented, "You must have had many rare and interesting experiences over the course of your long lifetime. Will you please share one of those memories with me?"
"I'm sure lots of things did happen, but my memory isn't what it used to be; I'm afraid I have forgotten them all," replied the old woman, shaking her head.
The visitor sympathized, saying that was only natural for someone of her advanced years, but persisted, "Isn't there at least one thing you do remember?"
"Well if you must insist, I'll tell you. I have painful memories of being killed 24 times." The old woman mumbled these mysterious words half to herself, her wrinkled face settling into a frown. When asked to explain, she began to tell her story bit by bit in a sorrowful tone, pausing frequently.
"During my lifetime, I've seen the births of many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. But it is the way of life that death can strike anyone, young or old, and so it sometimes happened that a child or grandchild of mine would predecease me. We've had a total of 24 funerals in this house. Each time, I overheard people who came to offer their condolences say, 'If only the old woman had died instead!' They at least would whisper it in another room out of deference to me, but my grandchildren and great-grandchildren would deliberately say such things to my face. Their words killed me again and again."
|Original Art Photo by TRF_Mr_Hyde available on Flickr.com|
How many careless jokes have we made about celebrities without thinking of them as human beings or even how their families might feel about hearing those uncaring remarks? When we speak badly of others, we must be so careful. Words have the power to kill.
Just this month a committee in Ireland formed up to analyze the negative impact of cyberbullying on their local children. The report claims that social media substantially affects children's mental health using the incidents of four teenage suicides in Ireland that occurred in rapid succession. Officials are calling for child protection guidelines and age restrictions on social media. Read the full story from online news site -- Independent.ie
What does that say about all of us making remarks, direct or indirect, about others and their misfortunes? Even to those who appear guilty or who we presume deserve our criticisms, we gain absolutely nothing by passing on our own judgements just to hurt them more and more.
It's in common practice today to send a nasty text message or IM (instant message) about someone who's in the same room. What does that say about our nature? We must reflect on all of our words, whether they're spoken or digital, and imagine if someone else was saying those same filthy words to us face-to-face. And having a thicker skin isn't always the answer to everything when you take into account that doing so is hurting other people.
The most casual joke or reference then has tremendous power to do us harm! Even if no one finds out about what you did, eventually you must face the repercussions of your own karma. It's definitely something to think about and to continue to take seriously.
Let's find the nice qualities in others and help people develop their talents. When we realize we're saying something in the wrong, we should correct ourselves and apologize swiftly. Because a word to the wise, we're not really all that wise with our words.
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