A Benefit of Observing Hateful Speech: Patience and Compassion

by Bob Schwartz


A conventional reason for promoting free speech, even if hateful, is that it brings the hate out in the open, where it can be exposed and counteracted.

Here is another benefit, found in a verse from The Song of Realizing the Way (Shodoka) by Zen Master Yongjia Xuanjue (665-713):

There is benefit to observing hateful speech;
it makes you a good guiding teacher.
If you don’t hold a grudge against those who slander,
you don’t need to express patience and compassion.
(Translated by Peter Levitt and the Kazuaki Tanahashi)

Another translation:

When I consider the virtue of abusive words,
I find the scandal-monger is my good teacher.
If we do not become angry at gossip,
We have no need for powerful endurance and compassion.
(Translated by Robert Aitken)