Sunday, October 24, 2010

Don't Believe Everything You Hear

Believe nothing because a wise man said it.
Believe nothing because it is generally held.
Believe nothing because it is written.
Believe nothing because it is said to be divine.
Believe nothing because someone else believes it.
But believe only what you yourself judge to be true.
--the Buddha--

'Don't believe everything that you hear.' my friend said as she turned and walked away from me.  I remember a day long, long ago when I'd confronted a friend about something I heard. I confronted her in the wrong way. Someone had told me that my  friend had told her something that had happened to my father over the weekend.  In my childish mind, I didn't think to question it; after all, my friend lived right around the corner from the bar so it had to be true. I was only about 8 years old; it never occurred to me that the parent of the child who whispered the hurtful words in my ear could have been in the bar at the same time.

Thankfully, I didn't lose my friend that day...although it was a few weeks before she actually forgave me. I later learned that the little girl who had overheard her parents talking about the incident and had deliberately set out to cause a rift between me and my friend.  It seemed that she wanted me 'out of the picture' so that she could be the best friend. Today I realize how really sad that is...for a child to be that lonely, but at the time, what she had done was totally unforgivable...and her actions led to neither one of us talking to her.

We don't outgrow gossip...and we all know one.  We find them at the office, in our neighborhood, on the street, at church...why, even family members gossip about each other. A gossip usually is a person without much going on in his/her own life. It might be that they focus on other people's lives because their own is just too unhappy.  Whatever the reason, gossip hurts.  It can eat away at healthy relationships. It can scar a person's image and damage the lives of their loved ones. 

So often, gossip is not true, but even if it is true, it should not be said if it is not good...and we most certainly should not believe everything we hear.  I learned a valuable lesson that day, although it took me a few years to actually put it in effect.  Believe nothing until you yourself judge it to be true. 

The great Socrates used a Triple Filter test. Whenever a friend came to him with a juicy piece of gossip, Socrates replied, “Before you tell me this bit of gossip, will it pass my triple filter test? First of all, what you are about to tell me, is it true?”

The man replied that he was not sure; he had heard it but could not verify its truthfulness. Socrates continued by saying, “You want to tell me some gossip but you are not positive that it is true.”

“Well,” said Socrates, “Is what you are about to tell me good?” “No,” the man replied, “it certainly is not good.”

“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something that may not be true and it certainly is not good. Let us give this bit of gossip the final of the three filter tests: Is what you are about to tell me going to be useful to me?”

Again the man had to confess that no, it would not be useful to Socrates. So, in his wisdom, Socrates then said, “Well, if you are not sure it is true, you know it is not good, and you tell me that it will not be useful to me, why then tell it to me?”

If only each of us would use this triple filter test when someone comes to us with a juicy bit of gossip, it certainly would stop gossip right in its tracks.


  1. Good afternoon Mary.
    Looks like you have become a wise owl.
    Notice I left the word OLD out. :0)

  2. Now That is a Great post!!!

    If only more people would abide by it.


  3. I think Soctrates is onto something with his views! And You Mary are a Wise Owl indeed!

    Many Blessings...