Fake Speech

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Pondera
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Fake Speech

Post by Pondera »

What is the verdict on fake speech? I spend a lot of time being someone who is very customer oriented - and that involves a deluge of really, really polite speech and courteous greetings (and a little bit of small talk).

I prefer not to talk at all. But my profession requires it.

So ... is it better to “pretend” and speak pleasantly with others - to have a courteous voice, kind words, expressions of best wishes?

Or is this a form of lying? Especially if you’re putting on an act because your livelihood relies on it?
“Monk, the property of light, the property of beauty, the property of the dimension of the infinitude of space, the property of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, the property of the dimension of nothingness: These properties are to be reached as perception attainments.[2] The property of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception is to be reached as a remnant-of-fabrications attainment. The property of the cessation of feeling & perception is to be reached as a cessation attainment."[3]

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
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JamesTheGiant
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Re: Fake Speech

Post by JamesTheGiant »

Even the Buddha and his monks did small-talk, polite-talk.
For example here's a common sutta example, see the emphasized words:
Majjhima Nikāya
135. The Shorter Exposition of Action:

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park.

Then the brahmin student Subha, Todeyya’s son, went to the Blessed One and exchanged greetings with him. When this courteous and amiable talk was finished, he sat down at one side and asked the Blessed One:

“Master Gotama, what is the cause and condition why...
This is a common phrase in the suttas, it happens again and again.
Small talk is actually an important part of human-relations, and good relationships.
It's easy to confuse impatience and irritability with being detached and spiritual.
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Dhammanando
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Re: Fake Speech

Post by Dhammanando »

Pondera wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 3:08 am Or is this a form of lying?
In the jargon of modern linguistics what you're calling "fake speech" usually goes by the name "phatic communion", a term coined by Bronislaw Malinowski in his supplement to Charles Ogden's The Meaning of Meaning:

https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dl ... 9/mode/2up
(See pages 313ff).

For more detail see Coupland's How Are You? Negotiating Phatic Communion.

https://www.researchgate.net/publicatio ... _Communion
Since its introduction by Malinowski in the 1920s, “phatic communion” has often been appealed to as a concept in sociolinguistics, semantics, stylistics, and communication, typically taken to designate a conventionalized and desemanticized discourse mode or “type.” But a negotiation perspective, following the conversation analysis tradition of research on greetings and troubles telling, fits the discursive realities better. Phaticity is a multidimensional potential for talk in many social settings, where speakers' relational goals supercede their commitment to factuality and instrumentality
tl;dr
"True" and "false" don't apply to most phatic speech-acts, for the contexts in which they're uttered are tacitly understood by both parties as ones in which facts are neither sought nor expected nor conveyed.
Anabhirati kho, āvuso, imasmiṃ dhammavinaye dukkhā, abhirati sukhā.

“To not delight in this dhammavinaya, friend, is painful; to delight in it is bliss.”
(Sukhasutta, AN 10:66)
pegembara
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Re: Fake Speech

Post by pegembara »

Pondera wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 3:08 am What is the verdict on fake speech? I spend a lot of time being someone who is very customer oriented - and that involves a deluge of really, really polite speech and courteous greetings (and a little bit of small talk).

I prefer not to talk at all. But my profession requires it.

So ... is it better to “pretend” and speak pleasantly with others - to have a courteous voice, kind words, expressions of best wishes?

Or is this a form of lying? Especially if you’re putting on an act because your livelihood relies on it?
Pleasantries to just establish human contact is different from one done with an intention for personal gain. If one is inclined not to talk but is forced to, that isn't lying, like claiming the product being sold is better than it actually is. It is just a business transaction - part of the job of selling is good service and making customers feel at ease.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Fake Speech

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala »

Recluses of other sects used to bless donors with the words "Long life to you."

The monks were scrupulous and doubted if it was truthful to say this when anyone can die at any moment, so they remained silent. The people were displeased, and spread it about that the monks were unfriendly.

The Buddha assured them, "I allow you, monks, to use conventional modes of speech."

In England, people still often say "Goodbye" instead of "Have a nice day," or "Farewell." Goodbye is a contraction of "God be with you," so since we Buddhists don't believe in God, is it OK to say "Goodbye"? No problem. It is just a friendly mode of speech — it does not convey the meaning that we believe in God.
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Bundokji
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Re: Fake Speech

Post by Bundokji »

I had similar thoughts in the past. I had incidents when a colleague asking me "how are you" and me finding the question completely meaningless. Polite speech is better not to be interpreted literally. This is also helpful to understand rituals and how to engage with them in a non-ritualistic way.

For example, if you invite someone to eat with you, you do not do it only to boost their calorie intake. There are deeper social meanings to these actions. Strict minimalism can imply clinging.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.
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mikenz66
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Re: Fake Speech

Post by mikenz66 »

Bundokji wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 9:08 am... There are deeper social meanings to these actions. Strict minimalism can imply clinging.
Great points.

I'm not always successful, but my aim is for small talk to be something of a gift to the person I'm speaking to, providing something genuine that will give them a positive feeling. That's how I try to think of my work in general. My work involves teaching, and assisting students and colleagues. I try to shape it as providing a service, not just doing what I want...

:heart:
Mike
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Pondera
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Re: Fake Speech

Post by Pondera »

pegembara wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 5:58 am
Pondera wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 3:08 am What is the verdict on fake speech? I spend a lot of time being someone who is very customer oriented - and that involves a deluge of really, really polite speech and courteous greetings (and a little bit of small talk).

I prefer not to talk at all. But my profession requires it.

So ... is it better to “pretend” and speak pleasantly with others - to have a courteous voice, kind words, expressions of best wishes?

Or is this a form of lying? Especially if you’re putting on an act because your livelihood relies on it?
Pleasantries to just establish human contact is different from one done with an intention for personal gain. If one is inclined not to talk but is forced to, that isn't lying, like claiming the product being sold is better than it actually is. It is just a business transaction - part of the job of selling is good service and making customers feel at ease.
Keeping up appearances and pleasing my client is ultimately the only reason I speak politely and exchange courtesies. So, in a sense I have something to gain by “faking” it. The problem lately is that my wife has noticed I can’t turn it off. And quite frankly, the more I engage in these exchanges the more estranged I seemed to becoming towards her. I guess “turning it off” is a skill as well.
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 8:56 am Recluses of other sects used to bless donors with the words "Long life to you."

The monks were scrupulous and doubted if it was truthful to say this when anyone can die at any moment, so they remained silent. The people were displeased, and spread it about that the monks were unfriendly.

The Buddha assured them, "I allow you, monks, to use conventional modes of speech."

In England, people still often say "Goodbye" instead of "Have a nice day," or "Farewell." Goodbye is a contraction of "God be with you," so since we Buddhists don't believe in God, is it OK to say "Goodbye"? No problem. It is just a friendly mode of speech — it does not convey the meaning that we believe in God.
I like that quote. It’s good to keep in mind that these modes of exchange are ultimately conventional in nature.
Bundokji wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 9:08 am I had similar thoughts in the past. I had incidents when a colleague asking me "how are you" and me finding the question completely meaningless. Polite speech is better not to be interpreted literally. This is also helpful to understand rituals and how to engage with them in a non-ritualistic way.

For example, if you invite someone to eat with you, you do not do it only to boost their calorie intake. There are deeper social meanings to these actions. Strict minimalism can imply clinging.
My wife complains that her coworkers constantly reply that they’re “so tired” after a courteous “how are you?” Is asked.

“Everyone is tired! Get over it! No one wants to be at work! Say something original!” - she says 😀
mikenz66 wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 10:13 am [quote=Bundokji post_id=620382 time=<a href="tel:1620205723" target="_blank">1620205723</a> user_id=9940]... There are deeper social meanings to these actions. Strict minimalism can imply clinging.
Great points.

I'm not always successful, but my aim is for small talk to be something of a gift to the person I'm speaking to, providing something genuine that will give them a positive feeling. That's how I try to think of my work in general. My work involves teaching, and assisting students and colleagues. I try to shape it as providing a service, not just doing what I want...

:heart:
Mike
I do in fact derive a small sense of happiness knowing that I can be excessively polite to individuals of all tempers. 😉
“Monk, the property of light, the property of beauty, the property of the dimension of the infinitude of space, the property of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, the property of the dimension of nothingness: These properties are to be reached as perception attainments.[2] The property of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception is to be reached as a remnant-of-fabrications attainment. The property of the cessation of feeling & perception is to be reached as a cessation attainment."[3]

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
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Pondera
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Re: Fake Speech

Post by Pondera »

Dhammanando wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 5:53 am
Pondera wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 3:08 am Or is this a form of lying?
In the jargon of modern linguistics what you're calling "fake speech" usually goes by the name "phatic communion", a term coined by Bronislaw Malinowski in his supplement to Charles Ogden's The Meaning of Meaning:

https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dl ... 9/mode/2up
(See pages 313ff).

For more detail see Coupland's How Are You? Negotiating Phatic Communion.

https://www.researchgate.net/publicatio ... _Communion
Since its introduction by Malinowski in the 1920s, “phatic communion” has often been appealed to as a concept in sociolinguistics, semantics, stylistics, and communication, typically taken to designate a conventionalized and desemanticized discourse mode or “type.” But a negotiation perspective, following the conversation analysis tradition of research on greetings and troubles telling, fits the discursive realities better. Phaticity is a multidimensional potential for talk in many social settings, where speakers' relational goals supercede their commitment to factuality and instrumentality
tl;dr
"True" and "false" don't apply to most phatic speech-acts, for the contexts in which they're uttered are tacitly understood by both parties as ones in which facts are neither sought nor expected nor conveyed.
Interesting. All very rational of course.

The part I find taxing is the tone of voice and enunciation. Not only does the content of what I say over ride the reality of how I might be feeling - also, the way I say it has to sound pleasant - which (if I’m tired or in a bad mood) becomes tiresome in itself.

The Buddha’s diction is praised in many ways, is it not? For example, his voice is pleasant to the ear both in content and frequency. Ie. He spoke in a “pleasant” tone.

Would you say that the “tone” of the Buddha’s voice was also a convention he used? Or did it come naturally?

And where does convention stop for the Buddha? We know he liked to talk to the common folk just enough for them to quickly take their leave. That is in the suttas.

But what about his discourses? Was he an animated speaker? Or dead pan serious? Is there any way to know?
“Monk, the property of light, the property of beauty, the property of the dimension of the infinitude of space, the property of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, the property of the dimension of nothingness: These properties are to be reached as perception attainments.[2] The property of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception is to be reached as a remnant-of-fabrications attainment. The property of the cessation of feeling & perception is to be reached as a cessation attainment."[3]

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
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mikenz66
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Re: Fake Speech

Post by mikenz66 »

Pondera wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 5:14 pm I do in fact derive a small sense of happiness knowing that I can be excessively polite to individuals of all tempers. 😉
Do you not derive some happiness for sending them away happy?


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Mike
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Sam Vara
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Re: Fake Speech

Post by Sam Vara »

Pondera wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 7:10 pm But what about his discourses? Was he an animated speaker? Or dead pan serious? Is there any way to know?
It's probably unwise to have too much certainty, but we may have a few faint clues. Harold Beaver's book The Broken Gong attempts to construct an account of what the Buddha was like from his discourses.

https://amaravati.org/dhamma-books/the-broken-gong/

He points out, for example, that there is a lively sense of irony and humour, and that the Buddha joined in the tradition of stylised debates with other ascetics - complete with rhetorical flourishes like showing his skin to demonstrate that unlike his opponent he was not sweating with apprehension. He certainly used a huge range of colourful figures of speech, and it would be difficult to imagine them delivered completely deadpan.

On the other hand, in AN 5.180 and elsewhere, disciples point out that the Buddha did not smile without reason. And he disapproved of his Bhikkhus laughing, especially in public places.
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Pondera
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Re: Fake Speech

Post by Pondera »

mikenz66 wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 7:51 pm
Pondera wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 5:14 pm I do in fact derive a small sense of happiness knowing that I can be excessively polite to individuals of all tempers. 😉
Do you not derive some happiness for sending them away happy?


:heart:
Mike
Yes. That brings a smile to my face. However, I deal with nasty people as well. Teenagers who have chips on their shoulder, for example.

And if I slip up with my customer service and someone goes out of their way to name me, my company, and my client on Facebook or Instagram with a bad review - my company might terminate me.

So, when dealing with nasty people, I maintain professionalism and send them on their way. Now if they leave happy that is ultimately a relief for me.

If they leave bitter, at least I know I maintained my professionalism.

I’m naturally very poorly equipped for confrontation. As a youngster, confrontation generally meant a war of words, and a possible fist fight - or some kind of retribution.
“Monk, the property of light, the property of beauty, the property of the dimension of the infinitude of space, the property of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, the property of the dimension of nothingness: These properties are to be reached as perception attainments.[2] The property of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception is to be reached as a remnant-of-fabrications attainment. The property of the cessation of feeling & perception is to be reached as a cessation attainment."[3]

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
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Pondera
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Re: Fake Speech

Post by Pondera »

Sam Vara wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 8:04 pm
Pondera wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 7:10 pm But what about his discourses? Was he an animated speaker? Or dead pan serious? Is there any way to know?
It's probably unwise to have too much certainty, but we may have a few faint clues. Harold Beaver's book The Broken Gong attempts to construct an account of what the Buddha was like from his discourses.

https://amaravati.org/dhamma-books/the-broken-gong/

He points out, for example, that there is a lively sense of irony and humour, and that the Buddha joined in the tradition of stylised debates with other ascetics - complete with rhetorical flourishes like showing his skin to demonstrate that unlike his opponent he was not sweating with apprehension. He certainly used a huge range of colourful figures of speech, and it would be difficult to imagine them delivered completely deadpan.

On the other hand, in AN 5.180 and elsewhere, disciples point out that the Buddha did not smile without reason. And he disapproved of his Bhikkhus laughing, especially in public places.
:goodpost:
“Monk, the property of light, the property of beauty, the property of the dimension of the infinitude of space, the property of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, the property of the dimension of nothingness: These properties are to be reached as perception attainments.[2] The property of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception is to be reached as a remnant-of-fabrications attainment. The property of the cessation of feeling & perception is to be reached as a cessation attainment."[3]

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
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Dhammanando
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Re: Fake Speech

Post by Dhammanando »

Pondera wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 7:10 pm Would you say that the “tone” of the Buddha’s voice was also a convention he used? Or did it come naturally?
It came kammically. It's the twenty-eighth mark of a superman.

A Large Tongue and the Voice of Brahmā

“Mendicants, in some past lives the Realized One was reborn as a human being. He refrained from harsh speech. He spoke in a way that’s mellow, pleasing to the ear, lovely, going to the heart, polite, likable and agreeable to the people. Due to performing those deeds he was reborn in a heavenly realm. When he came back to this state of existence he obtained these two marks: he has a large tongue, and the voice of Brahmā, like a cuckoo’s call.

Possessing these marks, if he stays at home he becomes a wheel-turning monarch. And what does he obtain as king? He has a persuasive voice. His words are persuasive to brahmins and householders, people of town and country, treasury officials, military officers, guardsmen, ministers, counselors, rulers, tax beneficiaries, and princes. That’s what he obtains as king.

And what does he obtain as Buddha? He has a persuasive voice. His words are persuasive to monks, nuns, laymen, laywomen, gods, humans, demons, dragons, and fairies. That’s what he obtains as Buddha.”

That is what the Buddha said.

On this it is said:

“He never spoke a loud harsh word,
insulting, quarrelsome,
causing harm, rude, crushing the people.
His speech was sweet, helpful, and kind.

He uttered words dear to the mind,
going to the heart, pleasing to the ear.
He enjoyed the fruit of his good verbal conduct,
experiencing the fruit of good deeds in heaven.

Having experienced that fruit,
on his return to here he acquired the voice of Brahmā.
His tongue was long and wide,
and his speech was persuasive.

Even as householder his speech brings prosperity.
But if that man goes forth,
speaking often to the people,
they’ll be persuaded by his fair words.”

https://legacy.suttacentral.net/en/dn30
Anabhirati kho, āvuso, imasmiṃ dhammavinaye dukkhā, abhirati sukhā.

“To not delight in this dhammavinaya, friend, is painful; to delight in it is bliss.”
(Sukhasutta, AN 10:66)
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Pondera
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Re: Fake Speech

Post by Pondera »

Dhammanando wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 10:41 pm
Pondera wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 7:10 pm Would you say that the “tone” of the Buddha’s voice was also a convention he used? Or did it come naturally?
It came kammically. It's the twenty-eighth mark of a superman.

A Large Tongue and the Voice of Brahmā

“Mendicants, in some past lives the Realized One was reborn as a human being. He refrained from harsh speech. He spoke in a way that’s mellow, pleasing to the ear, lovely, going to the heart, polite, likable and agreeable to the people. Due to performing those deeds he was reborn in a heavenly realm. When he came back to this state of existence he obtained these two marks: he has a large tongue, and the voice of Brahmā, like a cuckoo’s call.

Possessing these marks, if he stays at home he becomes a wheel-turning monarch. And what does he obtain as king? He has a persuasive voice. His words are persuasive to brahmins and householders, people of town and country, treasury officials, military officers, guardsmen, ministers, counselors, rulers, tax beneficiaries, and princes. That’s what he obtains as king.

And what does he obtain as Buddha? He has a persuasive voice. His words are persuasive to monks, nuns, laymen, laywomen, gods, humans, demons, dragons, and fairies. That’s what he obtains as Buddha.”

That is what the Buddha said.

On this it is said:

“He never spoke a loud harsh word,
insulting, quarrelsome,
causing harm, rude, crushing the people.
His speech was sweet, helpful, and kind.

He uttered words dear to the mind,
going to the heart, pleasing to the ear.
He enjoyed the fruit of his good verbal conduct,
experiencing the fruit of good deeds in heaven.

Having experienced that fruit,
on his return to here he acquired the voice of Brahmā.
His tongue was long and wide,
and his speech was persuasive.

Even as householder his speech brings prosperity.
But if that man goes forth,
speaking often to the people,
they’ll be persuaded by his fair words.”

https://legacy.suttacentral.net/en/dn30
Thank you for this except. The Buddha’s speech was both polite and going to the heart. Besides pleasantries and introductions, the Buddha’s speech was not a mere matter of convention it seems. Ie. he could be polite and genteel while still being genuine.
“Monk, the property of light, the property of beauty, the property of the dimension of the infinitude of space, the property of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, the property of the dimension of nothingness: These properties are to be reached as perception attainments.[2] The property of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception is to be reached as a remnant-of-fabrications attainment. The property of the cessation of feeling & perception is to be reached as a cessation attainment."[3]

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
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