PureInsight | May 31, 2023
[PureInsight.org] Confucius said, ‘To hear something and then spread it indiscriminately is the abandonment of virtue. ’ (In Chinese: 道听而涂说(Dao Ting Er Tu Shuo)，德之弃也(De Zhi Qi Ye).This quote is from ‘The Analects of Confucius, Section: Yang Huo.’
The character ‘Tu’ in this sentence is generally interpreted as ‘route’ or ‘path’. If we interpret it this way, the meaning of the first half of the sentence is: hearing something on the path and then telling it to others. However, I believe that ‘Tu’ implies embellishment or adding to something. According to my interpretation, the meaning of the first half of the sentence is further nuanced: hearing something on the path and then adding one’s own embellishments before spreading it to others. ‘The abandonment of virtue’ probably means betraying one’s moral principles. Of course, there are different interpretations of the second half of the sentence, but I feel that they are all rather forced, and I will not go into them there.
According to my above interpretation, there are two possible meanings to this sentence. One is that it is morally wrong to hear something on the path and then tell it to others on the path. The other is that it is unethical behavior to embellish what one hears and then tell it to others.
In real life, both of these behaviors seem to be quite common. Some people pass on misinformation without verifying it, while others add their own embellishments to what they hear before passing it on. As a result, the truth of a matter can become unrecognizable by the time it reaches its final destination.
“To hear something and then spread it indiscriminately is a manifestation of lack of morality.” It often misleads others.
In the lecture, the Master said in Zhuan Falun, “The cultivation of speech that we teach refers to: that which involves one’s reputation and personal gain that cannot be given up among everyday people, that which has nothing to do with the actual work of practitioners in society, the senseless gossiping among practitioners in the same school of practice, attachments that cause one to show off, hearsay or circulating rumors, or those discussions on some social issues that one is excited about. I hold that these are all attachments of everyday people.”
Master also said in Zhuan Falun, “One may claim: ‘I’ve heard something from Teacher Li.’ People will surround this person and listen to what he says. He will pass on the hearsay embellished with his own understanding. What is the purpose? It is to show himself off. There are some people who also spread the hearsay among one another with a great deal of interest, as though they are well informed, and as though so many of our practitioners do not understand or know as much as they do. It has become natural for them, and perhaps they do not realize it themselves. Subconsciously, they just have this mentality of showing off. Otherwise, what would be the purpose of circulating the hearsay?”
For cultivators, listening to and spreading rumors not only harm others but is also irresponsible for their own cultivation.
Perhaps everyone has engaged in a certain degree of gossiping, but the extent may differ. As I write this, I can sense it exists within me. I will eliminate it as soon as I see it to be responsible for my own cultivation and to avoid harming others.
Chinese version: https://www.zhengjian.org/node/282560