How should one properly handle cases in which people use a rude language and indulge in idle talk or gossip, according to the Buddhist teachings?

How to speak or act with a pure thought when people say stupid things and jokes at you, and use rude language towards you, trying to upset you, according to Buddhist teachings? And how to change the unwholesome thought to wholesome when the mind is full of hatred and aversion towards these people and cultivate loving kindness? Which way is best of sending metta to them?

  • Great question +1 and very relevant to buddhists. Actually i think also non-buddhists would benefit from watching such language and words with mindfulness. That might contribute to deminishing a lot of arguments in the world.
    – user2424
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 13:26

4 Answers 4


In Kakacupama Sutta, the Buddha says:

"Monks, there are these five aspects of speech by which others may address you: timely or untimely, true or false, affectionate or harsh, beneficial or unbeneficial, with a mind of good-will or with inner hate. Others may address you in a timely way or an untimely way. They may address you with what is true or what is false. They may address you in an affectionate way or a harsh way. They may address you in a beneficial way or an unbeneficial way. They may address you with a mind of good-will or with inner hate.

In any event, you should train yourselves: 'Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic to that person's welfare, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading him with an awareness imbued with good will and, beginning with him, we will keep pervading the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.' That's how you should train yourselves."


"Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding. Even then you should train yourselves: 'Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words [...]' That's how you should train yourselves.

-- Kakacupama Sutta, MN 21

An addendum to this would be when the authors of rude language and idle talk or gossip are buddhist themselves committed to the practice. In that case, with the above in mind, one may, at his/her discretion, chose to bring their attention to this, so as to help them steer back to their practice. Of course, one certainly may chose to intervene in the case of non-buddhists, but since they may not be committed to not perform these kinds of speech, raising the matter can make things worse -- that's when taking responsibility for being timely and beneficial applies specially to ourselves, specifically:

Abandoning false speech, he abstains from false speech; he speaks truth, adheres to truth, is trustworthy and reliable, one who is no deceiver of the world. Abandoning malicious speech, he abstains from malicious speech; he does not repeat elsewhere what he has heard here in order to divide [those people] from those; thus, he is one who reunites those who are divided, a promoter of friendships, who enjoys concord, rejoices on concord, delights on concord, a speaker of words that promote concord. Abandoning harsh speech, he abstains from harsh speech; he speaks such words as are gentle, pleasing to the ear, and lovable, as go to the heart, are courteous, desired by many, and agreeable by many. Abandoning gossip, he abstains from gossip; he speaks at the right time, speaks what is fact, speaks on what is good, speaks on the Dhamma, and the Discipline; at the right time he speaks such words as are worth recording, reasonable, moderate, and beneficial.

-- Culahatthipadopama Sutta, MN 27 (Nanamoli/Bodhi)

In the case of monks engaging in these acts, there may be something specific in the Vinaya, the collection of monastic rules, about how to handle these situations.


It seems to be difficult at times dealing with people. People can Pull your strings and push all your buttons to make you react an contribute to their state of anger or gossip or ignorance.

Through my studies of Buddhism. I found meditation is a must, Learning to center yourself an to improve your focus. The Eightfold Path is like the corner stone of my Behavioral guide line, along with the 5 Precepts.

When you realize in the moment ( 07. Mindfulness ) , that they are either : angry, are ignorant of their own actions, or prefer to gossip an cause people to divide from each other. You will know where they are coming from, an their goal. Some of the things you may do is you can just walk by them an ignore them, or help to correct them. As with correcting them you will meet a very negative response. Not many people accept being corrected, mostly because of Ego. But if they are willing to see the truth then you have just helped one person more often then not out of their own ignorance of their actions.

I learned that in the Non self it is Like the removal of Ego an returning to the true self. Who you were before the life experiences an the world around you forced you to develop this "ego". Basically if you have no ego nothing can bother you in a way. When we are clashing with people its because of Ego, when people say "take yourself out of the situation" seems to me its hints at Buddhas teachings of NON Self. Take the Ego out of the batch an you can see clearly an respond clearly. If they say things to hurt you an you are unaffected by them, they lose that power to harm you. When they cannot control you, they cannot become difficult to you, because when you are in control, you allow what happens in your life to a degree.

If they are difficult because of religion then you should ignore them, a religious person who wants you to become like them only are focused on their own desires an not the desires of you. They may be intolerant of your beliefs, but that only means you should be tolerant of theirs, an them, as a Buddhist seek the middle ground, religions come an go an some have stayed for a little while, keep true to your own understanding. Dont be convinced by others. You must be able to convince yourself an if you are not convinced then dont follow it. Fundamentalist have their own way of doing things even if its not true to their own dogmas or doctrines they cannot be persuaded, more often then not, they are conditioned to that method an will remain in that method till they are willing to leave it. There is nothing you can do but only be kind to them an if they are curious answer questions. From my experience Fundamentalist are aggressive an will come at you over an over an try to guilt you into following their way an will shun you or condemn you according to you response. It will save you time an effort to be kind an compassionate but firm in your own convictions.

Through Meditation you build mental awareness, an a stronger fortitude of mind. Concentration is key, when you are in control, you will have the ability to respond out of thought not reaction for them. When you are in the present you can say or do things vastly easier. Couple of the Eightfold Paths to remember:

Right Speech - Be careful of what you say- does it become aggressive to others? Does it divide others? Is it at the right time to be said? Will they mature from what you have said?

Right Action - what are the right steps to the situation? If by becoming involved will they learn anything or will it further cause you suffering an trouble. Is it best not to become involved? Can you become the diplomat an help the situation mold into common understanding. It could simply be a misunderstanding that escalated into something worse.

Right Mindfulness - In the moment are you present? Do you see what they are getting at? What is the cause of their reactions? What causes them to respond an become so difficult? Can you find the Middle Path that will lead to each persons peace?

Right Concentration - Through meditation, you create a stronger awareness of self, an centering your self well help keep you from being caught off guard an unable to respond. Becoming intimidated by the situation.

The Dhamapada states : In this world where has Hate conquered Hate? Only Love can conquer Hate. This speaks to me in the way of dealing with people, have compassion an love for them, some times people are simply difficult because others are difficult to them all the time an they only developed a habit of being difficult.

key points : Try to see where the person is coming from What actions can do you to diffuse the situation, or if you should act at all. Remain Calm an Dont give into Intimidation, Be mindful of the moment. Are they just in need of some one to understand them? If they are wanting to cause trouble, then dont contribute to the trouble.

Hopefully this helps you in some way or another.


Make an effort to be mindful. Seeing things mindfully is seeing things as they are. What that means is when someone says something rude you just are hearing the sound of the rude words but not listening to the meaning of the words. "Seeing things as they are" means "experiencing things without any of the conceptual agreements we have made in the past". For instance, the English word "tree" has been agreed to mean "those long poles with branches and leaves on them" but people who never learned English will hear the word "tree" and won't understand what the English speakers have agreed on. So when you hear the word "tree" and you hear it "as it is" you are hearing it with no prior agreements. So if you heard the word "tree", to hear it as it truly is in ultimate reality, you hear it as just "an audio formation" meaning that you hear it as just a sound, a noise formation. You're just experiencing hearing. Then when someone makes you angry, you can see the "anger" within yourself and be mindful of that anger formation. You might find that the anger is gone as soon as you're mindful of it but it usually leaves tension in the neck, spine and shoulders(at least that's how it worked for me). Sorry if I'm kinda giving you sort of a rambling answer and idea of what mindfulness is. There are lots of good books and videos for free about it on the internet. It's not as difficult to learn as some people would think. Also maybe you could Google up the practice of metta or loving-kindness. This meditation targets anger and can bear good temporary results. I hope this helps :)

  • 3
    This answer is one of the best answers i have read on Buddhism SE. Execellent description with the tree and how ones who does not know the word/language just hears it as audio/noise information. Also when you talk about the anger feeling and how it leaves tension in the body. I can say that its the same for me, although it also leaves a mark on the breath which becomes more rapid. Thank you very much for this answer +1.
    – user2424
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 13:21

How? With

  1. Right view
  2. Compassion
  3. Taking obstacles as the path
  4. Wisdom

First, with understanding that there is no "you" and there is no "them". There is just an infinite field of interacting mental-and-physical factors. They don't act as they do because they want to. They must act as they do, given their background and the input you give them. Whatever is happening, is happening for objective reasons.

Second, with compassion. Whatever background and whatever experiences they had, have led them to think as they think now, and to act as they act. So they too are victims, of their circumstances. Because if their actions are routinely based on incorrect understanding, they will fruit in trouble for them, sooner or later.

Third, as an opportunity for practice for YOU. Every time there is trouble that would normally generate emotions, that's a perfect chance to practice on YOUR SIDE. Practice what?

  • letting go of ego
  • control of emotions
  • equanimity
  • compassion (see above)
  • right view (see above)

The letting go of ego part is very important. Normally, we take ourselves very seriously, and if someone endangers our self-image we react frantically. Instead, by letting go of attachment to our illusory self-importance, we can get back to the zero-point state of mind, the state before the problem.

Finally, you have to understand that problematic situations don't just happen out of the blue. There is always a sequence of actions and words that lead to them. We have to learn to watch for subtle signs of emerging disagreement that may turn into an argument, and solve the problem before it happens.

How to do that? We have to understand the other person's perspective (whether "right" or "wrong" does not matter) and learn to speak in terms of their reality, using the framework and the concepts they can relate to. Or carefully introduce them to your frame of reference. But never ever argue across different frames of reference -- that never works.

Again, this has a lot to do with our own preconceptions. If instead of rigidly holding on to our basic assumptions we can be flexible, then we can understand other people and they can understand us -- which is how you avoid getting into arguments that end up as rude language.

  • Thanks for your answer.my english is not very good and when i ask questions sometimes i miss some points.maybe i should edit this questions,i wrote when they use rude language but i meant as well when they say stupid things or joke to you without the intention of arguments ,what is best to do?and when the mind is full of ill will towards this people which way is best of sending metta to them and changing the unwholesome thought?
    – Arturo
    Commented Oct 3, 2014 at 16:57
  • Same thing. Just ignore #4 then, the rest still applies.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Commented Oct 3, 2014 at 17:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .