Hinduism Today Magazine Issues and Articles
Swearing and Backbiting and Gossip
Category : January/February 2001


Swearing and Backbiting and Gossip

Using foul, denigrating language is a mindless habit for many, and few realize it's profoundly negative effects

Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

Many people, even those who consider themselves religious, go through life using profane language to express their frustrations at each difficulty they meet. Do they know the effect of these negative mantras? Apparently not. People who swear--even if it is just under their breath--are cursing themselves. What does that mean? It means they are holding themselves back in life. They are demeaning themselves and making themselves unsuccessful. Their lack of success will create more frustrations within the home, and more swearing. Even thinking a swear word is a mantra.

Why do people repeat mantras? To generate a positive force for successful life. Why do people swear mentally, under their breath, or verbally, or at their children, or at their wives, or wives at their husbands? To vent their anger, spite or sarcasm, or just by mindless habit. But in the process, they unleash a negative force that will ruin their lives, break up their homes. Every time you swear, that swearing goes into your subconscious and hooks up with all the other swear words you've said since you were a kid.

Many people habitually say, "I'll be damned," "Damn you," or "Damn it" as figures of speech. But all speech has its effect. Such mantras block their future and bind them to what they wish on others or crassly blurt out. This is a good way to curse oneself, to be sure, to build a big balloon of negative energy. Under that negative force, they will never be able to relax or enjoy a vacation. Many people live together as a family, but their home is broken, their lives are broken, because they broke their own heart and took their own courage away simply by swearing a repeated mantra. Using profane language is a curse upon the system we call life.

What is even worse is knowing you shouldn't do something and then doing it anyway, even knowing why you shouldn't do it and doing it anyway, knowing why you shouldn't swear, why you shouldn't be abusive to the children, why you shouldn't be abusive to the wife, and then doing it anyway! It has a triple impact of force on the subconscious mind of the individual if he knows what he is doing to himself and to the minds of others, if he knows the law, and yet ignores the law of karma, the divine karmic law that he accepted.
Now, having heard this, if you continue to break the law, you bring a triple curse upon yourself! That is the built-in prayaschitta, the automatic penance. Those of you who know how the subconscious mind and the sub of the subconscious mind work can see the negative impact very, very clearly. And if you continue knowingly going against what you know is harmful to you, you will earn a bad birth.

I was on a United Airlines flight. A stewardess spilled something. She didn't use the "d" word, the "s" word or the "f" word. She kept a smile on her face and cleaned up the mess! Why didn't she swear? Because if you're an employee on a United Airlines flight, you don't swear or else you don't take the next flight! That's why. The motivation to change isn't that clear when, for example, someone is working at a construction site where everyone else is also swearing. But the motivation to stop swearing should be clear, because it takes its toll even if you don't realize it. It is simply taking longer to lose your job, because swearing will make you less productive, less functional, less liked by others. You'll be cheated, you'll make wrong financial decisions and your income will go down. Your inspiration will go down. You can count on it, because you are repeating mantras to destroy everything that you have. You won't be able to appreciate that sunset. You will be so confused on the inside that all you'll see is your own mind. Avoiding all that should be the motivation, but the effect is slow, insidious, and in most cases not appreciated.

People who are cynical are also expressing their anger and contempt with snide words. They may seem to be joking, but their sharp feelings come across anyway, which stimulates the chakras below the muladhara, until one day their cynicism will turn into real anger.

One of the greatest spiritual laws is saucha kriya, doing good. Now, what is doing good? Doing good is controlling your mind, really, because when the mind is out of control or when you allow it to be out of control, you are really under the control of the instinctive minds of other people. You are more or less like a puppet in their hands. Therefore, we teach,"Think before you speak, and speak only that which is true, kind, helpful and necessary." This is very, very difficult for most people to do. Like those who swear, those who gossip and backbite do not think. They pick up the low, seething vibrations of the instinctive mind of everyone around and, like stovepipes, emanate the smoke of the fire that is going on underneath.

Gossipping is like scratching an itch. Something is antagonizing your mind, so you gossip, and you go on and on and on until somebody changes the subject for you, or until somebody does something else that you can gossip about. Shall we say that backbiting and hurtful gossip are the dissipation of the creative, spiritual force? That's all they are, the dissipation of your great, God-given inner power. Anyone will tell you that to dissipate your energy is bad for you, but you do that when you gossip. By doing that, you are only the chimney, the smokestack, of the seething, instinctive mind, the ugly state of mind, of other people. You are not in control of your own mind. Have I painted a picture that is bad enough, gruesome enough, for you all to stop gossiping and backbiting and control your mind a little bit? Gossip invokes the asuric beings on the lower astral plane and makes new karmas for the gossiper, who will be gossiped about in the future when the karmas return.

Let's paint another picture. When you defile others, mentally and verbally, through backbiting gossip about the happenings in their lives, you are hurting them. You are actually making it difficult for them to succeed, to even persist where they are. They sense, they feel, the ugliness that you are projecting toward them. Many women gossip about their husbands over the telephone to other women while their husbands are at work. How can the husband be successful with the wife's mind, in which he presumably trusts, working and plotting against him in such a chaotic way?

It takes great sincerity in life to control the mind. And the power to be sincere is based on honesty. Honesty, arjava, one of the most important yamas, Vedic restraints, gives a great boon to you. It gives you stability. It makes you strong. It makes every atom in your being vibrate with an inner power. It gives you perspective; it gives you the eye to justice. But you must first be honest with yourself.

Each thought and each word has a form, an etheric form. That is why when a room is happy and you walk into it, you feel joyous. When a house is sad and you walk into it, you can sense that misery, for every thought you think and every word you speak takes form and shape in the ether. Prana is mental energy. When you use mental energy, you make mental creations. When you use physical energy, you can create physically. With your hands, you can build a house, you can cook a dinner; you can do many things with your physical energy and your physical body. With your mind, through the use of prana, you can also create for yourself. You would be surprised at the power that you have in your mind as an individual.

Suppose you are generating a thought for something good to happen, a positive circumstance you want to come your way. You concentrate upon it, you generate it and you make the picture just the way you want to see it. Then you are happy and joyous. You feel as if it has already happened. Now suppose you drop into a lower state of consciousness. You begin to gossip. You use foul language and backbite. You lose control of your mind. You don't put your intuitive mind first. You put the instinctive mind first and begin to think: "Oh, that can't possibly happen because of this.... " Or, "I can't possibly do this because of that..." You are building a negative pattern of fear, worry and doubt that covers up the beautiful picture and snuffs it out. Then, when it does not manifest, you say: "My prayers were not answered. God was too busy helping somebody else. He couldn't help me." But you were the creator. You preserved it on the mental plane for as long as you could, and without knowing it, you destroyed it before it manifested physically. That is one way you can go on through life; as so many, many people do, blaming others for their own self-created failures.

Do you know what all of that is? Confusion of the mind! So we have two alternatives: confusion or control. And we have all the spiritual laws to follow that help you control your mind. When the external mind is controlled, then the spirit, or inner being, the Reality of you, can shine forth. Shall we say that a confused mind is like clouds the sun cannot shine through? A controlled mind is like clear ether which the radiance of the sun can shine through.

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