Speech & feathers

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Speech & feathers

Postby Journey » Fri May 01, 2009 2:23 pm

In the movie Doubt, with Meryl Streep, a Chasidic tale was used to tell about the danger of improper speech:
A man went about a community telling tales, the once happy community grew divided. Later when the rabbi found out, the man wanted to make amends. He was told to "Take a feather pillow, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds." The man thought this was a strange request, but he did it gladly. He was then told "Now, go and gather the feathers. Because you can no more make amends for the damage your words have done than you can recollect the feathers."

Is it possible to make amends in accordance with the Dhamma?
Last edited by Journey on Fri May 01, 2009 3:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Improper Speech

Postby Jechbi » Fri May 01, 2009 2:55 pm

Journey wrote:Is it possible to make amends in accordance with the Dhamma?

It's always possible to make more wholesome kamma here and now.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Speech & feathers

Postby mikenz66 » Sun May 03, 2009 11:20 pm

I've heard similar stories from Buddhist teachers. In the variation I recall the instructions were to pluck a chicken and bring it to the monk...

The moral of the story was the same.

Metta
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Re: Speech & feathers

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 03, 2009 11:22 pm

Greetings Journey,

Journey wrote:Is it possible to make amends in accordance with the Dhamma?


You can't undo the evil of the past, but you can do good now and in the future.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Speech & feathers

Postby zavk » Mon May 04, 2009 1:23 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Journey,

Journey wrote:Is it possible to make amends in accordance with the Dhamma?


You can't undo the evil of the past, but you can do good now and in the future.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hi Journey,

This is how I'd interpret it as well.

Unwholesome actions (of speech, body and mind), once enacted, will produce results or consequences that cannot be retracted, just as one cannot re-gather the feathers that have been dispersed by the wind. But the freedom remains for one to stop enacting further unwholesome actions--to stop casting feathers in the wind, as it were.

In fact, Buddhism would encourage one to cast seeds of sweet fruits instead, so that when they are carried by the wind, they might take root in far flung places, and produce fruits for others to enjoy.
With metta,
zavk
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Re: Speech & feathers

Postby Mexicali » Mon May 04, 2009 1:44 am

The Dhammapada says that when someone commits an unskillful action and then blocks it with a skillful one, it is a beautiful thing. I'll find the verse later if you want.
"We do not embrace reason at the expense of emotion. We embrace it at the expense of self-deception."
-- Herbert Muschamp
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Re: Speech & feathers

Postby Journey » Thu May 14, 2009 10:44 pm

Thank you all very much for your comments. :anjali:
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Re: Speech & feathers

Postby Aloka » Fri May 15, 2009 10:50 am

It does of course depend on what exactly we classify individually under unwholesome speech though, does it not? If there is corruption, say at a Buddhist centre somewhere, people who try to speak out against that corruption can then be suppressed and made to feel fearful. This suppression takes the form of accusations of 'wrong speech' by people who imagine everything happening at a Buddhist centre must be somehow beyond criticism. Is that not enabling the corruption? Accusations of 'wrong speech' to others can become a weapon in that sense.

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