Chapter 8 - On Gossiping

1. Those who like to gossip are bound to create negative karma through their words. They are also "troublemakers".

2. Avert words so as to shun misdeeds. When you do speak, make it to the point and cut all unnecessary remarks.

3. Do not Gossip. Gossip leads to failure; gossip makes people feel restless.

4. Before criticizing others, consult your mind first.

5. Don’t keep finding fault with, or making comments about, others. As soon as you utter one word, you are in the wrong and are creating negative karma of words. Therefore, it is very important for practitioners to be watchful of what they say.

6. Through their words, some people can easily make others feel vexed or baffled, not knowing what to do. Unfortunately, these same people are also prone to insist that others comply with their wishes, though they themselves never listen to others. These people are likely to become deluded and vexed, and are difficult to be liberated.

7. Be watchful of your own mind all the time: curb all greedy aspirations and unnecessary chattering. There are enough bad seeds to confine you in the cycle of rebirths, do not plant more. Discuss Buddhadharma if any conversation is necessary and vow to be reborn in the Pure Land.

8. When you are vexed, do not talk to one person after another. The more you talk, the more trouble you will cause. You might as well use the time to perform prostration. This will alleviate your karmic obstructions thereby reduce your vexations.

9. Those who praise and flatter us are not good teachers. On the contrary, those who criticize us, be it right or wrong, can truly help us in our practice. When reproaching us, the latter are providing us with chances to reflect on ourselves and strengthen our practice. So when we are reprimanded, not only should we feel ashamed and repent our karma, but we also should reaffirm our vows and practice even more dilligently. Only by so doing can we expect to make progress in our practice.

10. “Do not detest those whom others detest, or criticize those whom others criticize.” When others foster negative affinities, do not follow. You should be able to master your own mind and make independent judgments so as to foster good affinities with others, which is essential because “before attaining Buddhahood, be sure to foster good karmic affinity with people.”

11. To find fault with others and talk about it is a sinister act in itself; it is also an indication of an impure mind. Your mind will become more composed and unfettered if you get rid of the habit of differentiating pleasant circumstances from the bad. Therefore, keep it to yourself when you see anything immoral or anybody breaching the Dharma. Do not expose them, nor feel any aversion. "With your mind in a pure state, you will be free of vexations." This also indicates the potency of your practice.

12. From the perspective of practice, the major problem of criticizing others is not “whether he is in fact wrong and I am right,” but the fact that our ears and eyes are already making judgments and our minds are closed to everything but our own perceptions. Further, we are creating negative karma through the incipience of our ideas and depriving ourselves of merits. Therefore, our six sensual organs are like six thieves, and the purpose of practice is to prevent them from wildly pursuing the sense objects so that we can close the door to vexation. We should train our ears not to crave for pleasant melodies; eyes, agreeable surroundings; nose, fragrance; mouth, tasty food; and train our minds to be free of discrimination. Then we can concentrate on reciting the Buddha’s name and the sutras, performing prostration, sitting meditation, and other practices that will liberate us from the cycle of birth and death. If we keep up these practices, how could we have the time and the mood to pursue external distractions, or to comment on how others behave?

13. If you criticize others and your mind is disturbed or vexed by it, you would have no one but yourself to blame. Do not be judgmental of what others do: be tolerant. Then, not only will you enjoy peace of mind but will avoid creating negative karma through your words. This is the first and utmost important principle in practice. Remember: "Act according to (rather than against) circumstances, forbear everything, then enjoy peace of mind." This is the best antidote for a troubled mind.

14. Don't say that there are good people and evil ones. All judgments are but distinctions made by our minds. To those who really know how to practice, all sentient beings are helpful mentors.

15. When somebody tries to harm us, we should think: "It must be because I have done him harm in previous lives. I should stop this vicious cycle of bad karmic affinity and try to liberate him as well." Everything that happens, no matter how insignificant, has a cause.

16. Some people always look around and act mysteriously when talking to others. Those who saw such behavior might think he/she was speaking ill of somebody, which is not necessarily true. Therefore, we should be ourselves in whatever we do lest we should create unnecessary misunderstandings.