The results of giving advice

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

The results of giving advice

Postby Annapurna » Tue Jun 01, 2010 9:28 pm

I was wondering about 'giving advice'.

What if we mean totally well, and the other one follows our advice, but this advice turns out not to be not so good after all?

How dangerous is giving advice, how responsible are we for the result and do we accumulate bad or good kamma, depending on the result?

What do you think, and what did the Buddha say about this, if anything?

I've come as far as 'good intentions', on my own, but is there more to consider?

Thanks and metta,

Anna
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Re: The results of giving advice

Postby Wind » Tue Jun 01, 2010 9:43 pm

That's why the Buddha says to associate with the wise. The wise tends to give good advice. And no there is no bad karma in giving advice unless your intent was for harm.
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Re: The results of giving advice

Postby Hoo » Tue Jun 01, 2010 11:45 pm

Something I use as guidance is from MN 95, the Canki Sutta.

Let me tell you, Bhāradvāja, there are five things that may turn out in two different ways in the here and now. The five are faith, approval, oral tradition, a priori reasoning, and rationalization. A doctrine held as an item of faith may turn out to be empty, hollow and false. Another doctrine, not held as an item of faith, may yet turn out to be factual, true, and without mistakes. So, too, with doctrines accepted because of someone or other’s approval, a doctrine received through oral tradition, a doctrine worked out through pure reason, and a doctrine arrived at through rationalization. Any such doctrine may turn out to be empty, hollow and false. Contrariwise, doctrines opposed to those and held for entirely different reasons may still turn out to be factual, true, and without mistake. Given all that, it’s not proper for a wise man who wishes to preserve truth to state, as a definite conclusion, ‘Only this is true; all other doctrines are false.’”

“But Master Gotama, how then is it possible to preserve truth?”

“If a person has faith, Bhāradvāja, he preserves truth when he states, ‘My faith is thus….’ But he does not yet state, as a definite conclusion, ‘Only this is true; anything else is false.’ That’s how a person of faith can preserve truth. But it not yet a way to the discovery of truth.

“Similarly, a person who holds a view because of the approval of others, because of oral tradition, because of logical reasoning or rationalization, if he states, ‘I rationalize things in this way…’, then he preserves truth, and he does not go so far as to state, ‘Only this is true; all else is false.’ So he can preserve truth. But there is not yet a way to discovery of truth.”


Personally, if I am giving advice, it implies that I know the truth of what is best. I'm not there yet and probably never will be :) So if I am sharing ideas or information, I try to include that there are other views than mine that should be considered. I am not a teacher, just another traveler on the path, a new-ish traveler, at that.

The Buddha goes on to talk about the discovery of truth. For me, who needs a lot of caution when I begin to talk, this sutta helps me recognize when I am sharing and when I am preaching a view. When I get "hooked" in an argument or in defending some view, it reminds me to look at how I discovered this "truth" I am so fond of. I'm not good at it, mind you. On most days I have to watch out for preaching "Hoo-ism," what I believe instead of what is taught. On my better days I recall that the Buddha already addressed the truth and how to discover and convey it.

I'm sure others have their aids and tips but I'm still relatively new to Buddhism and try to stick to basics. Hope this helps.

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Re: The results of giving advice

Postby Guy » Wed Jun 02, 2010 1:20 am

Hi Anna,

I think it is useful for me to say something like "this is my opinion" or "this works for me" or "this has been my experience" if I am unsure about whether or not my advice is going to be useful for someone else. But this is just my opinion. :roll:

With Metta,

Guy
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Re: The results of giving advice

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:21 am

Guy wrote:Hi Anna,

I think it is useful for me to say something like "this is my opinion" or "this works for me" or "this has been my experience" if I am unsure about whether or not my advice is going to be useful for someone else. But this is just my opinion. :roll:

With Metta,

Guy

Good thinking, Guy - and it is useful to the other person, as well as yourself, if you remind them that your advice is your opinion, etc.

Taking that a bit further, the way you talk about your advice should reflect your certainty about its quality, e.g.:
"Two plus two really does equal four and that is a fact you can rely on."
"Pi is about 3.1 but if you want to be really accurate you may need to look it up."
"I'm not sure when the next bus comes but I think it's about ten minutes."
etc.
:namaste:
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Re: The results of giving advice

Postby Annapurna » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:45 am

Thank you , all, really great replies!

I'm especially thankful for the quote.
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Re: The results of giving advice

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:56 am

Annapurna wrote:I was wondering about 'giving advice'.

What if we mean totally well, and the other one follows our advice, but this advice turns out not to be not so good after all?

How dangerous is giving advice, how responsible are we for the result and do we accumulate bad or good kamma, depending on the result?

What do you think, and what did the Buddha say about this, if anything?

I've come as far as 'good intentions', on my own, but is there more to consider?

Thanks and metta,

Anna


Good question. Are you looking for advice on advice? :jumping:

Sometimes people point out the fact that actions are done with "good intentions", but that unfortunate results occur, and then have doubts about the general Buddhist karmic maxim of "good intention --> happy result". But I think that one important factor should not be overlooked - ignorance or knowledge. If the advice is given with good intent, and with knowledge, then most likely happiness will follow. But if, even though there are good intentions, there is ignorance in the advice given, then that is not skillful karma at all, but bright-dark karma, which leads to a mixed result. Of course, with neither good intent nor knowledge, not much of use will come out of it.

I guess this is the "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" ... if those good intentions are ignorant.

After all, ignorance / knowledge is a very important primary factor in action.
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Re: The results of giving advice

Postby Annapurna » Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:18 am

Thank you, Bhante, so much.

I'll be much more cautious with advice then, because I may not know all the factors involved that are necessary to make it good advice.

Online, a special hindrance is given.

It should be ok to quote the Buddha then, with a hint to find out for oneself if it applies.

:?:

Metta,

Anna
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Re: The results of giving advice

Postby Fede » Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:44 am

Just as we cogitate and ponder on many matters, questions arising in our own minds, are "Is this skilful thinking? Is this conducive or constructive to my practice, here and now? is this truly useful to me? Can this answer my question in the way I might wish?"

So it should be when we see that others are seeking input.

"Is this skilful input? Is this conducive or constructive to their practice, here and now? is this truly useful to them? Does this answer their question in the way they seek?"

When it feels right - do it.
When in any doubt - don't.
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Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

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Re: The results of giving advice

Postby SDC » Wed Jun 02, 2010 6:34 pm

Guy wrote:I think it is useful for me to say something like "this is my opinion" or "this works for me" or "this has been my experience" if I am unsure about whether or not my advice is going to be useful for someone else. But this is just my opinion. :roll:


Seconded.

Intention may be good, but as the Venerable said, the advice may be lacking. Or the advice may be 100% sound, but the recipient may lack the intelligence to properly understand. So whoever choses to offer adviced needs to be careful with how they phrase their words. "In my opinion" or "in my experiece" lets the person know that they should take the advice but be careful while applying it to their own situation. In that they may need to consider some different or additional factors.

But this is only my opinion too. :tongue:
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Re: The results of giving advice

Postby Monkey Mind » Fri Jun 04, 2010 12:57 am

I often phrase the advise as a question: "What would happen if you did {blank}?" or "Have you tried looking at it from this perspective?"

That way the responsibility falls on the other person to evaluate the advice.

I am also very clear when advice comes from a personal perspective: "I had that problem once, and this is what I did, and this was the outcome of that action..."
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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