Responding to insults

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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devi42
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Responding to insults

Post by devi42 » Tue Jan 14, 2020 11:19 pm

One of the superpowers of mindfulness seems to be the ability to avoid the impulsive reaction to personal insult. It could give you the space to see that this angry and confrontational person doesn't even really need to have significance to you, and that their behavior is about them more than about you. I personally am not at a place where I can be so detached from taking personally slights or confrontation with others, but it seems like it would be really worthwhile to be that way.

Except, I can't decide if that's entirely true. I don't know if there are lines to be drawn, and if so, where? Does such passivity necessarily mean being the world's doormat? Would that mean it is right to remain in an abusive relationship? Short of that, how much insult should one take before responding, even in measured tones? How much should one just allow to pass with no response?

I am blessed that in general this question is largely hypothetical for me, but it troubles me all the time.

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Ayu
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Re: Responding to insults

Post by Ayu » Wed Jan 15, 2020 7:27 am

I think, not taking insults personally is not the same as indulging everything.

Patience is not an external thing like 'never respond'. It is only the result of a bigger overview. It is not patience when you feel insulted, feel angry, and say nothing.

If someone harms you, you can even stop him without being angry.
For the benefit and ease of all sentient beings. :heart:

DharmaN00b
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Re: Responding to insults

Post by DharmaN00b » Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:37 pm

I'm going to assume you're either young, or living in a controlled sandbox environment and/or surrounded by 'yes men' based upon the fact you mentioned it's hypothetical to you. So my answer to you is that you'll gain life experience and judge on a case to case basis. One question to ask is what are you going to do about it? Another is, is it going to achieve anything?

Generically insults are a wind-up, sometimes a punch bag for frustrations... otherwise just pushing your buttons and boundaries, so if you got none and change you behaviour according to other people they say jump, you say: "how high".

But really if it's just some kid calling you smelly pants, which is my way of saying most of the time insults are inconsequential. So you'll mostly be turning the other cheek so they can whip the other side, because life delivers a shit sandwich to everyone. That means we learn to appreciate each other.

Also, we become less isolated working with others so if we all appreciate one another and someone rocks the boat they might get thrown overboard. :quoteunquote:

SteRo
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Re: Responding to insults

Post by SteRo » Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:16 pm

devi42 wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 11:19 pm
One of the superpowers of mindfulness seems to be the ability to avoid the impulsive reaction to personal insult.
Better: mindfulness should lead to not perceive insult at all but to perceive feelings, mind and mental qualities, i.e. 3 of 4 frames of reference.
devi42 wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 11:19 pm
It could give you the space to see that this angry and confrontational person doesn't even really need to have significance to you, and that their behavior is about them more than about you.
No that is not appropriate because that may be based on aversion and hidden ill-will and may be driven by conceit. If you are experiencing persons then the appropriate attitude towards them would be compassion because they suffer from affflictions.
devi42 wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 11:19 pm
I personally am not at a place where I can be so detached from taking personally slights or confrontation with others, but it seems like it would be really worthwhile to be that way.
One has to start from the place one currently is.
devi42 wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 11:19 pm
Except, I can't decide if that's entirely true. I don't know if there are lines to be drawn, and if so, where? Does such passivity necessarily mean being the world's doormat? Would that mean it is right to remain in an abusive relationship? Short of that, how much insult should one take before responding, even in measured tones? How much should one just allow to pass with no response?
One should not raise those questions as long as one is strongly bound by afflictive mental qualities in the context of what the world knows as 'personal insult' and has not yet attained at least some independence from that. Because whatever answer one might come up with will be dominated by afflictions. First attain necessary equanimity through mindfulness or similar Dharma practices.

TrimePema
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Re: Responding to insults

Post by TrimePema » Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:07 pm

devi42 wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 11:19 pm
One of the superpowers of mindfulness seems to be the ability to avoid the impulsive reaction to personal insult. It could give you the space to see that this angry and confrontational person doesn't even really need to have significance to you, and that their behavior is about them more than about you. I personally am not at a place where I can be so detached from taking personally slights or confrontation with others, but it seems like it would be really worthwhile to be that way.

Except, I can't decide if that's entirely true. I don't know if there are lines to be drawn, and if so, where? Does such passivity necessarily mean being the world's doormat? Would that mean it is right to remain in an abusive relationship? Short of that, how much insult should one take before responding, even in measured tones? How much should one just allow to pass with no response?

I am blessed that in general this question is largely hypothetical for me, but it troubles me all the time.
My own personal advice is: don't do anything. Don't decide this or that about the insult or the person. That's just tying conceptual knots in your mind, to overlay on top of reality...

Instead, decide on awareness. Just look at your mind. Using the mindfulness you have somewhat achieved, just notice whatever thoughts or processes arise and leave it at that. Just notice/recognize them. That's it. They'll liberate themselves in that awareness and you will notice the whole process becomes less and less solid.

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Responding to insults

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Thu Jan 16, 2020 6:12 am

People who are at peace with themselves never insult anyone.
With a little commitment, a little practice, it is not hard to immediately perceive every insult or negativity directed at you as an expression of insecurity and fear and other problems in the person making the insults.
When that happens, you will immediately feel compassion for them, just as you would a suffering animal.
But that doesn’t mean you let the wounded dog bite you.
Do not stay in a toxic situation that you cannot change.
.
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Profile Picture: "The Fo Ming (Buddha Bright) Monk"
People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.

muni
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Re: Responding to insults

Post by muni » Thu Jan 16, 2020 9:21 am

People who are at peace with themselves never insult anyone.
Well, may all be - all in the Pure realms.

Being aware like said above, is the key to see that it are our own reactions from which we suffer (emotional - cognetive obscurations), whether these are in silent thoughts-feelings ( doormat) or by obscured speech-action. Both create more karma imprints. We can go through a lot of suffering in poisoned relationships, this can make us strong or break us when we lose compassion. That is why there is no liberating Dharma without Compassion.

Tonglen?

In Nottingham years ago, the Shugden followers were yelling frustrated insults towards HH at the other side of the road by the building where HH Dalai Lama would arrive. HH did not start to yell back from his side of the road, but went inside. At the end of the first day he was asked what he tought about what happened by his arrival. He answered; they are welcome, only the empowerment they should avoid.
As well by HH: do not respond by emotions, the only weapons to use are these of wisdom.
The nature of just what is, in all things, is undifferentiated.
When purified, it is the nature of the tathagata.
Therefore all living beings possess that nucleus.

The fortress of the spacious and timeless expanse has no division into
higher or lower or in between.

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well wisher
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Re: Responding to insults

Post by well wisher » Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:14 am

This is a great thread. If i only had heeded more advice akin from this thread when I was younger! Oh well, what is done is done, time keeps moving on.

I think another good old wisdom tip to also remember is: action speaks louder than words.
As long insulting aggressor does not take any physical actions/attacks, then sometimes the best response is to stay silent and just let them vent, or just walk away. Hopefully the aggressor insulter will calm down afterwards. Those insults are just hot air and words that will fade away over time.
Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream.
So is all conditioned existence to be seen.
- Diamond Sutra
https://diamond-sutra.com/read-the-diam ... hapter-32/
If the aggressor does indeed take physical actions, then I think the defender is in the right to take reasonable self-defence actions; albeit preferably non-lethal means. eg. calling cops/authorities / bystanders help, fight back to try to disarm or knock out the aggressor ... etc.

Also In relation to this thread, I think it is also good to consider de-escalation techniques, to try and resolve the before the insults and arguments before it gets worse. But these would only work on a smaller personal or conversational settings, not in a macro big-audience setting.
https://www.correctionsone.com/correcti ... iIsox1LuE/
The following are the Big Eight techniques that officers should include in their de-escalation toolbox:
Listen. Listening allows an irate person to "flood," which is a means of purging angry energy. ...
Acknowledge. ...
Agree. ...
Apologize. ...
Clarification. ...
Choices and Consequences. ...
Sequence Questions. ...
Suggestibility.

tkp67
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Re: Responding to insults

Post by tkp67 » Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:51 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 6:12 am
People who are at peace with themselves never insult anyone.
Yes, and also worthy of mention. Hurt people hurt people. When someone insults someone else it often reflects an internal metric upon which they measure themselves. A reflection of internal strife.

Simon E.
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Re: Responding to insults

Post by Simon E. » Thu Jan 16, 2020 2:06 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 6:12 am
People who are at peace with themselves never insult anyone.
With a little commitment, a little practice, it is not hard to immediately perceive every insult or negativity directed at you as an expression of insecurity and fear and other problems in the person making the insults.
When that happens, you will immediately feel compassion for them, just as you would a suffering animal.
But that doesn’t mean you let the wounded dog bite you.
Do not stay in a toxic situation that you cannot change.
.
.
.
The problem is many people think that passive /aggression doesn’t count. Even when it seeps out of every pore.
“The difference between us and Tara is that she knows she doesn’t exist”.

DharmaN00b
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Re: Responding to insults

Post by DharmaN00b » Thu Jan 16, 2020 3:01 pm

Obviously some people have a small circle of compassion. We know about fair weather friends, well that pretty much goes for much of public life.

The politeness is almost an apology for ones one biological leaning. We're anthropocentric, egocentric and ethnocentric, so it's very difficult to work with.

When I am cognizant of the sheer coldness or indifference it's way worse than any perceived slight. Passive aggressive behaviour is a way to stay relevant. We learn this very early on that our bad behaviour is met with attention. If this behaviour is rewarded with attention the result is a spoiled brat. Of course this is going to be a problem by way of exclusion when a person meets real trouble: for example, they're on fire and nobody will pee on them.

Excuse me, my personal fave passive aggressive drama stunt:


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Rick
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Re: Responding to insults

Post by Rick » Thu Jan 16, 2020 4:04 pm

DharmaN00b wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 3:01 pm
We're anthropocentric, egocentric and ethnocentric
I detect a theme ... :

Image
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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well wisher
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Re: Responding to insults

Post by well wisher » Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:44 pm

While we are on the topic about "anthropocentric, egocentric and ethnocentric", I wanted to share some personal cases of how I dealt with percieved personal insults:

- While I was in high school, a classmate insisted he wants to cheat and copy my answer during a memorization test - final exam of the course. At first I politely refused, for fear of getting caught by the teacher and be expelled. But then he keeps insisting and follow too close to me. So then I had to shout out "stay away from me!". He took that as an insult. After school was in the mall cafeteria, he had gathered a group of friends intent to gang on me; luckily for me there was an adult I recognized nearby, so I ran to him for help, and the gang just walked away.

- One time I rushed home, the apartment gate had quickly shut behind me, likely due to strong winds I was not aware he was trying to tail me. So then while I was waiting by the lobby elevator, he suddenly started shouting profanity at me, "it was the f**king wind!". I had to threaten him back "do you want me to call the cops? Then calm down please". And i walked away and took the stairs.

Feel free offer advice about how these situations could have been handled better.
But the way I see it, while we are living on this Earth / Saha world full of strife and dukkha sufferings and skhandas, some conflicts seems to be unavoidable part of life -> at least for folks who are not living isolationist / hermits lifestyle out in the wild. But The way we handle and resolve it - to try and minimize harmful impacts to all parties, I think, is a type of worthy compassionate / Bodhisattva practice.

DharmaN00b
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Re: Responding to insults

Post by DharmaN00b » Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:23 pm

Actually I think the verbal exchanges were a good sign: a chance for conflict resolution. WW ?

What I got from Ricks post was: Know thy place; do the math! Well the Dinosaurs were isolated for millions of times more than we were around and they didn't even get a warning.

So long as no-one end up in hospital or jail, it's a win-win.

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well wisher
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Re: Responding to insults

Post by well wisher » Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:31 pm

DharmaN00b wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:23 pm
Actually I think the verbal exchanges were a good sign: a chance for conflict resolution. WW ?

What I got from Ricks post was: Know thy place; do the math! Well the Dinosaurs were isolated for millions of times more than we were around and they didn't even get a warning.

So long as no-one end up in hospital or jail, it's a win-win.
In Idealism I would agree - most situations should be able to be talked out, and root out the cause of the conflict.
However, I have seen some situations where it cannot be talked out - as in any response will just infuriate the profanity insulter even more. In that case I think the best solution is agree to disagree, and just walk away.

And yes, a few heated verbal exchanges is still much better than actual physical harms / broken bones or locked up in jail or heavy-handed fines.

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明安 Myoan
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Re: Responding to insults

Post by 明安 Myoan » Thu Jan 16, 2020 8:39 pm

You may find the teachings on equanimity helpful.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

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明安 Myoan
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Re: Responding to insults

Post by 明安 Myoan » Sat Jan 18, 2020 12:49 am

It also occurs to me that my first response to an insult is usually anger.
But anger can be worked with.
I included some resources for anger in this post... also a good thread in general. :smile:
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

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