Eradicating gossip that leads to conflict, pain and suffering

posted Oct 4, 2009, 12:02 AM by ash ‎(evermindful)‎   [ updated Oct 4, 2009, 12:07 AM ]
Often gossip is considered harmless chitchat, chewing the fat or shooting the breeze. But there is a dark side to gossip that is malicious in nature and involves divulging personal information about others.

Search Google, read magazines or even listen to friends and you may hear celebrity gossip like:
  • You know Paris Hilton did a porno or
  • Brad and Angelina had already started before the break up with Jennifer

Perhaps you have heard within family circles gossip like
  • I saw cousin Leo visiting a gay bar, or
  • Uncle Jo left Aunty Marry for some Indian girl

Or maybe a friend had remarked a comment about you like:
  • She really shouldn’t wear clothes like that, she just makes herself look cheap
  • His laugh freaks me out

Whether the remarks are malicious or harmless chitchat, they are still gossip.

As good moral citizens we are taught not to lie. Telling the truth is a pretty easy rule of personal conduct to follow. Most of us find it easy to be truthful almost all the time. On occasions we may bend the truth or tell a lie for harmless fun or for pleasant surprises. However without much difficulty, we extend honesty with mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a state of pure awareness on the present mind moment. When we extend honesty with mindfulness we become mindful of all speech including gossip. When mindful we are able to note that gossip is motivated by emotions of ill will, jealousy or attachment. Such negative emotions can be clearly examined under insight meditation. Through insight meditation we experience how these defilements lead to conflict, pain and suffering.

There is a way to end this gossip and practice right speech. We eradicate gossip by developing mindfulness. We develop mindfulness by practicing insight meditation. Through insight meditation we first practice right attitude towards ourselves. That is, in our meditation practice we exercise the attitudes of expect nothing, enjoy ourselves, pace ourselves, accept ourselves, let go of our own issues and be gentle with ourselves. Once these attitudes are mastered on ourselves, we then practice right attitude towards others in every moment:

So the next time you are in a conversation, remind yourself to slow down. Note what you were about to say before you say it. Test what you were about to say by applying the mindful attitude tools. If you were about to contrast yourself with another person, then stop. If you were about to be harsh towards another person, then stop. If you were bothered by or failed to accept another person’s issues, then stop. Finally, if you had different expectations of another person, then stop, If you stopped yourself saying what you were about to say, then take comfort in the freedom from future conflict and pain that you just cultivated. Don’t rush, take this moment in and then let it go. Now you are ready to continue with a healthier and compassionate conversation.

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