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The Best Way to Deal with Gossip and Personal Attacks

Okay. We know we should be more mindful of our own speech, sure. But what about when rumors are flying about you, or someone is spreading gossip and it's hurting your reputation? What should you do then?
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Friends shopping at a flower market.
Friends shopping at a flower market.

When someone crosses you in words or actions, what is the right way to respond? A Buddhist meditation teacher draws from an ancient text to provide insight and guidance.

Okay. We know we should be more mindful of our own speech, sure. But what about when rumors are flying about you, or someone is spreading gossip and it's hurting your reputation? What should you do then?

There is a beautiful Buddhist text dating back to the fourteenth century known as the 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva. Bodhi can be translated from Sanskrit as "open" or "awake" while sattva can be translated as "being," so it is an open-hearted being. A meditation master known as Ngulchu Thogme composed these verses so that we could live a full life with open hearts, in order to be helpful to those around us. Many of these practices revolve around applying virtue to even the toughest of our everyday situations. For example:

Should someone slander you

Throughout a billion worlds,

With a heart full of love, to proclaim his good qualities in return

Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

When we hear that someone says something even remotely negative about us, our initial instinct may be to harden our hearts and retaliate. You might think, "That jerk. I trusted them and now they're spreading all these lies and gossip about me." Armed with an iPhone, you can be three texts deep accusing them before you even know you're reacting negatively. So when you find yourself the victim of other peoples' mindless speech, it's a good time to put your meditation training to work and pause before responding.

It's important to realize that you have complete control over how you work with your speech, but zero control over what comes out of the mouths of others. Let's say you date someone for a while, break it off, try to be extremely kind in the break-up, and walk away wishing that person well. You vow not to say a mean word about them. You're feeling pretty good about yourself, acting like a deeply spiritual breaker-upper.

Then your ex posts on social media that you're a [insert your least favorite quality about yourself + your favorite expletive]. He may as well have slandered you throughout a billion worlds. In Ngulchu Thogme's days you had to go tell people gossip in-person. It took forever to slander someone across a neighborhood, much less a billion worlds. Now, with a click of a button, you can say something extremely negative about someone on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, e-mail, and text--all within a minute--and literally reach thousands of people instantaneously.

To learn how to remain resilient even against the worst words thrown at us, continue reading the original article on Sonima.

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