August 04, 2010

On What is Heard

This weekend there was a little too much honesty or plainspokenness going on in my family and feelings were hurt and there are negative reverberations still coming down the rails. It was all avoidable, and it was all done with the best of intentions. I saw it coming and reverted to my usual, cowardly strategy of keeping quiet if in doubt. My reasons for not speaking up were not noble.

The following is from—or rather, is—the brief and confusingly named Suta Sutta in the Anguttara Nikaya (AN 4.183) as presented on Access to Insight, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels' Sanctuary. Then Vassakara the brahman*, the minister to the king of Magadha, approached the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "I am of the view, of the opinion, that when anyone speaks of what he has seen, [saying,] 'Thus have I seen,' there is no fault in that. When anyone speaks of what he has heard, [saying,] 'Thus have I heard,' there is no fault in that. When anyone speaks of what he has sensed, [saying,] 'Thus have I sensed,' there is no fault in that. When anyone speaks of what he has cognized, [saying,] 'Thus have I cognized,' there is no fault in that."

[The Blessed One responded:] "I do not say, brahman, that everything that has been seen should be spoken about. Nor do I say that everything that has been seen should not be spoken about. I do not say that everything that has been heard... everything that has been sensed... everything that has been cognized should be spoken about. Nor do I say that everything that has been cognized should not be spoken about.

"When, for one who speaks of what has been seen, unskillful mental qualities increase and skillful mental qualities decrease, then that sort of thing should not be spoken about. But when, for one who speaks of what has been seen, unskillful mental qualities decrease and skillful mental qualities increase, then that sort of thing should be spoken about.

"When, for one who speaks of what has been heard... what has been sensed... what has been cognized, unskillful mental qualities increase and skillful mental qualities decrease, then that sort of thing should not be spoken about. But when, for one who speaks of what has been cognized, unskillful mental qualities decrease and skillful mental qualities increase, then that sort of thing should be spoken about."

Then Vassakara the brahman, delighting & rejoicing in the Blessed One's words, got up from his seat and left.

*Brahma, Brahman, brahmin. I would have used the last one here, but Thanissaro Bhikkhu is, believe me, a wiser man than I.

Improve your day, improve your life. Go to Access to Insight.

[Image: banlon1964]

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