What’s the Big Deal About Gossip?


Eh.

Gossip is *such* a double-edged sword.

When it comes to gossip you usually have two camps. The first being “gossip is horrible and never to be done.” The second being “ooooo guuurl tell me what sh*t happened last night.”

And then there are those of the second group who love to re-distribute their recently heard intel to everyone else, regardless of if the intel has been fact-checked and verified.

There are also others who love to start gossip; and sometimes, those people doen’t even need to see anything to get the gossip going.

It’s easy to demonize gossip and those who spread gossip but are those who demonize all who gossip right?

If you were to trust in religion and other forms of thinking that come from non-scientific origins then yes. Religious types and most who subscribe to “rules of thumb” or “common sense” thinking and tend to be all-or-nothing, tend to label all gossip as bad and nothing good can come out of it. (Even though when they talk to their friend about someone possibly being a child predator because so-and-so’s child got the bad touch from this person, this person is indeed gossiping. And something indeed good is coming out of that gossip. Oddly specific example, I know.)

However if you believe in science, then you may know that not all gossip is bad. For example, a 2012 study from University of California, Berkeley, suggests that gossip can help us “police bad behavior, prevent exploitation and lower stress.”

And in 2006, the American Psychological Association (APA) published an article about the “evolutionary past” of gossip and what that past means to us now.

“Natural selection, he theorizes, pressured people to learn as much as possible about the people in their social network-be they an authority figure, potential romantic partner, teacher, political ally or enemy. Knowing about other group members helped people eschew risky alliances, by informing them, for instance, which group member might double-cross them.

“In the process, gossiping also helped facilitate bonds by showing others we trust them enough to share information. …”

Read about the University of California, Berkeley study on the UC Berkeley News Center website. (Is it just me or does the article neglect to mention the title of the study?)

Read the APA story “Bonding over others’ business.”

The point isn’t to completely turn a blind eye to gossiping. Vicious, malicious rumor-mongering is never something to be praised. With that said, finding out indirectly that your buddy is hurting because of money or because a partner just left them or maybe even learning that that guy you’re dating has an issue with impulse control is not such a bad thing and might even be beneficial to your personal health and the health of your social community.

 

5 Tips On Buddha’s Way of Forgiveness and Reconciliation


It’s so great to know that this website can help some people, whether it be helping someone discover Buddhism or helping someone with anger or even helping someone feel emotionally validated.

One of the most popular posts on this website is “Buddha on Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Right & Wrong.”

When I wrote this post, I was definitely deep in the middle of trying to figure out my actions vs. the actions of someone else. It was a hot emotional storm, I needed answers. I looked to Buddhism because it’s what I practice.

Anyhow, I think it’s time to revisit the Forgiveness and Reconciliation text. One reason is because it’s been awhile since I’ve read the text and even as I re-read it now, the text has great points that should be kept in mind when faced with dealing with forgiveness or reconciliation. Another reason is because, “why not?”

Tip 1

The Buddha says forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things

Forgiveness is finding a way to be non-reactive and unperturbed by what has happened to you.

That’s the goal and as simple as it sounds, it can be a hard goal to achieve. It means deciding not to retaliate or seek revenge. It also means that you -even- forgive the other person for harming you.

And the thing with forgiveness is that it’s something that can be just for you. Like treating yourself to ice cream. You don’t have to explain to the other person why you are at this state. You don’t even have to tell them. Forgiveness is ultimately for you.

Reconciliation means “a return to amicability.” A return to amicability requires trust being reestablished. Trust is established when respect is shown by both parties for the “mutual standards of what is and what is not acceptable behavior.”

However, if you or the other person do the things below, a return to amicability (and trust) may not be possible at all.

a)Deny responsibility for your actions or maintain you did nothing wrong.

b)Insist that the other person’s feelings don’t matter or that they have no right to hold you to their standards of right and wrong.

c)Do not admit that you hurt the other person and were wrong to do so.

d)Do not promise to show restraint in the future.

Doing any of these things hurts the ability of the other person to trust that you will not hurt them again in the future and this makes a return to amicability mighty mighty hard to do.

FYI: If you are the person who was hurt, you aren’t scott-free from duties either.  You need to conduct the process of reconciliation in a respectful manner.

Tip 2

The values of the culture matter

Sometimes, you’ll find out that it’s not just one person out of whack in your situation. Sometimes it’s the entire fucking culture that’s out of fucking whack. An example of this can be like the following:

*****

“some people have recommended living by a non-dual vision that transcends attachment to right and wrong. This vision, however, is open to abuse as well. In communities where it is espoused, irresponsible members can use the rhetoric of non-duality and non-attachment to excuse genuinely harmful behavior; their victims are left adrift, with no commonly accepted standards on which to base their appeals for redress. Even the act of forgiveness is suspect in such a context, for what right do the victims have to judge actions as requiring forgiveness or not? All too often, the victims are the ones held at fault for imposing their standards on others and not being able to rise above dualistic views.

This means that right and wrong have not really been transcended in such a community. They’ve simply been realigned: If you can claim a non-dual perspective, you’re in the right no matter what you’ve done. If you complain about another person’s behavior, you’re in the wrong. And because this realignment is not openly acknowledged as such, it creates an atmosphere of hypocrisy in which genuine reconciliation is impossible.”

*****

It may be impossible to avoid running into communities like this but you can still do the work it takes to have values in yourself that can contribute to you being able to create future peaceful reconciliations.

If you are in the right, reflect on your own actions before you accuse another of wrongdoing. Ask yourself the following:

Am I free from unreconciled offenses of my own?

Am I motivated by kindness, rather than vengeance?

Am I really clear on our mutual standards?

If you can answer yes to all these questions then bring up whatever issue you have. Again, this may be easier to write on paper than to practice in life; and that’s okay.

Tip 3

Frame the acceptance of blame as honorable

This tip goes hand-in-hand with the ideas of conducting the process of reconciliation in a respectful way and creating values in yourself that can contribute to a peaceful reconciliation.

Encourage the thought that the honest acceptance of blame is a honorable act without shame.  The Buddha says, this is the way to make progress in your spiritual development.

“the ability to recognize one’s mistakes and admit them to others is the essential factor in achieving purity in thought, word, and deed”

Psychology too says the same about apologizing being a means to mature development.

Tip 4

Ground rules matter

Communication is most likely the most important part of reconciliation. One thing to find out is the “root intention” of the people or parties involved. “If those intentions were irredeemably malicious or dishonest, reconciliation is impossible.”

Try to stick to the major wrongdoings that caused the dispute. Promise not to dig up and use the other parties “minor offenses.” If both of the parties have committed wrongdoings, then both parties need to confess to their wrongdoing.

Ultimately the goal of all of this is to help both parties gain a mutual understanding of what actions created the disharmony and then the goal after that will hopefully be a promise to try and avoid those actions in the future.

“Even if the parties to a reconciliation agree to disagree, their agreement needs to distinguish between right and wrong ways of handling their differences.”

Tip 5

Not all disputes will be resolved

How sad my face gets when I read this tip, but it is unfortunately true.

“There are times when one or both parties are unwilling to exercise the honesty and restraint that true reconciliation requires.”

And there you go, a quick review on the great Bu-tastic way Buddha has framed forgiveness and reconciliation.

Autism and Buddhism (It’s Not What You Think)


There is a form of concern for self which is compatible with and even essential to altruism. The care for oneself which enables one to feel empathy with others can be termed “autism.” Autism is necessary for altruism, since it is necessary to be able to accept and even love oneself before one can show true empathy and compassion for others, before one can feel what they feel. Autism is not egoism. Egoism is the enemy of both autism and altruism. Egoism seeks to use others for the material welfare and gain of self. Its “love” is possessive and manipulative. Egoism has to be destroyed if karu.naa [compassion] is to develop.

 

Elizabeth J. Harris, on the notions of  Buddhist detachment and compassion.

KQED’s Forum Talks With Sex At Dawn Author


In societies where women are not shamed about sex, they have just as many lovers as men and fight over their rights just as vehemently as men.

This is what I heard on the radio as I pulled into the parking lot at work.  At that moment, I felt completely validated, gobsmacked and elated. I had to find out who this was and what this show was about.

The man talking was psychologist Christopher Ryan, co-author of the book “Sex at Dawn.” It’s a book that traces the evolution of sexual thought and practices; reflecting on how society and its shape has influenced the bonds of matrimony and relationships between men and women. But you hear more about the book on the show Ryan was on, KQED’s Forum show.

Ryan was on Forum discussing the topic “Are Humans Meant for Monogamy?” A topic that has been looked at often in Western subcultures that investigate ideas about sex and love.

Are Humans Meant for Monogamy?

I suggest you take a listen to the program. Ryan goes over some interesting subjects and one of my favorites is him going over the cultural rules of a hunter-gather society and how that is reflected in the OWS movement.

Another great topic is how having farms and growing crops changed how humans interacted with the world and each other.

And my .02 cents to the person who asks why women aren’t vocal about being promiscuous, even if single. Although a woman can say she is promiscuous and doesn’t want a partner a thousand times, it doesn’t mean they will find a partner who believes they mean what they say or that they will find a partner who doesn’t take casual to mean, I can be an insensitive and inconsiderate person to you.

After awhile you just stop being vocal.

.o2 cents, for real.

How Love And Intimacy Can Work


Where do you stand at with your relationships? Can you initiate a sexual relationship only when there is passion and intimacy? Or can you initiate a sexual relationship where there is intimacy and commitment but no passion?  I guess that’s where the mystery lies with this Triangular Theory of Love, it talks about feelings but says nothing about sex.

Read more about the Triangular Theory of Love at http://www.hofstra.edu/pdf/community/slzctr/stdcsl/stdcsl_triangular.pdf