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The 4 non-virtues of speech, getting to know them better

As I developed my knowledge of the Dharma, I discovered that I had wrong understandings, but that in the end, many people around me, who talk about Buddhism, who call themselves Buddhists, etc., had wrong understandings.

These few lines are intended to bring an attempt at clarification...

With the subject of the day: the 4 non-virtues of the word.

Buddhism is based on 3 pillars: ethics - concentration - wisdom.

Ethics is the basis of everything. We work to constantly develop our abstention from the 10 non-virtues, and to develop the 10 virtues. The 4 non-virtues of speech that we are going to talk about today belong to the 10 non-virtues.

3 concern the body, 4 the speech, and 3 the mind.

Concerning speech, we have :

  • lying

  • hurtful words

  • discordant words

  • utile words


We all know what it is of course! Just thinking about it, we see Pinocchio's nose getting longer and longer and his cheeks getting redder.

Lying is putting a false image on something.

There are, however, a few subtleties. We can lie about something we have heard; about something that has been seen; about something that has been perceived by the tongue, nose or body, and about something that has been known by the mind. Then conversely, we take these sentences and we find the 4 opposite versions (who did not hear, etc, etc).

You did not see this last piece of cake you loved so much...

So here we are in the context of lies that are easy to detect. We are aware that we are lying.

However, there is the lie that operates without us realizing it. Indeed, we are not sure that we heard what we are reporting, but we are sure that it is so...

And be careful, we can also lie by keeping silent! just as we can lie by transmitting a gesture that accomplishes the understanding of a lie...

We see that the lie itself can be declined under different subtleties. Let's see now the next one.

The words of discord

Be very careful here, because this concerns 2 types of individuals targeted by our words:

  • people who get along well, whose relationship is in harmony

  • people who have communication or understanding difficulties, or who are totally hostile to each other

Because it all depends on what you say. Are they words of discord or are you telling the truth? But the subtlety comes from the fact that "how do we know if the truth" is the truth?

It is impossible for us to hold all the cards. We do not live with people. We don't know everything about the different person. The person who confides in us may not be telling us everything, and by engaging in words that should be supposed to be healing but instead will sow even more discord and disharmony, you understand that it becomes prudent not to engage at all in order to avoid being the actor of the separation of a couple, friends, Sangha members, etc...

The karmic results of these actions will be much worse if the result pushes one of the 2 people to commit one of the 3 non-virtues of the body.

Hurtful words

This involves saying words that will hurt the person receiving them. There is a desire to say words that hurt, such as attacking someone's appearance, even if what you say is the truth. It doesn't matter if the words are true or false, knowing that the impact will be stronger of course if your words are false. As soon as the words hurt the person, we are in the context of hurtful words. The impact of these words will be all the more serious if they are addressed to relatives, friends, a spouse or a spiritual master.

Trivial words

This refers to all the words that are ultimately useless. You know the kind of sterile discussions in which we talk about the defects of this or that person ... or about the disputes between this and that person ... in short, all these gossip that have no meaning or place to be. And the impact will be amplified again if the beings subject to these words are relatives, friends, a spouse, a spiritual master.

Other factors must be taken into account

When we talk about non-virtues, of course, we are talking about karma.

Every action produces a result.

Here, different elements will be added to define the extent of the karma in order to know if it is accomplished or not, if it is accumulated or not...

But I will not develop it here, only in the courses that you can follow with me and thus to see, perhaps that will be the subject of a module or perhaps not...


--> Teacher training is given from 1 person upward. Kathy is in Lu Jong 1 teacher training ending in July. Aurore and Mickael are in training until January. It is possible to join or start a new training course from 1 person, Info here.
--> Johnathan returns to do the last course of Tog Chöd training in Chamonix at the end of June 2024. Venerable Oser is starting the Tog Chöd teacher training with the first face-to-face course in June in Chamonix and is already getting the hang of it with the theory through access to the online extranet. You can still join this training. The next training of Top Chod will perhaps start in June 2027 (or perhaps 2025 or 2026), to be continued...

--> A Tog ChOd discovery weekend is offered to everyone at the end of June! Info here

-->  We will be in Thailand in May and June and can offer discovery sessions or modules B of Lu Jong and Tog Chöd teacher training in French and English: in Chamonix from the end of June to the end of September, in Tenerife in October, in Nepal at the beginning of November 2024, in Thailand in November and December, and on Reunion Island in January 2025. And last minute... the Kora Kailash trip will take place in mid 2026 (the previous one was in 2018.. .), but will be reserved for former students or former participants of at least one trip with us! so if you would like to organize a retreat or training at these locations, contact us!

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