Reaction To Death II.

My friend and thought provoker K responded to my post Reaction To Death through an email thus:

“Your post on Reaction To Death esp the second one though very true can get you into trouble !

I suggest a test for blogging – will the reader of the post be better off by reading it ?”

I responded immediately thus:

“K, a blog by definition is a web log. It is my personal diary that I am willing to share with those who care to share my joys and other emotions as well as observe me showing off my intellectual gymnastics. Nothing more nothing less. How can I possibly get into trouble writing about miserable sods? I hope he reads that and discusses it with me.”

K is not one to let matters drift. He went on to send the following Sanskrit Shloka and a parable to illustrate what he wanted to convey.

satyam bruyat priyam bruyat na bruyat satyam apriyam
priyam ca nanrutam bruyat esha dharmah sanatanah

~ Manu Smriti 4.138

Speak truth in such a way that it should be pleasing to others. Never speak truth, which is unpleasant to others. Never speak untruth, which might be pleasant. This is the path of eternal morality, sanatana dharma.

To speak truth is an eternal value irrespective of time and place. But the expression of truth should be accompanied by two conditions. Firstly, it should be presented in a loving manner and secondly it should be spoken for the betterment of others. How you speak is as important as what is said. Priyam means speech that does not hurt others. Hitam is something that is said for the good or betterment of others. One should be careful of speaking truth but not hurting others.

We should be careful in speaking the truth. The purpose should be good and the words used and the manners in which they are spoken are important. So the value of truthfulness is relative to a situation. According to the Indian scriptures while living in the world of relativity truth can be interpreted in many ways.

The King And The Astrologer

A king produced his horoscope before an astrologer and asked him about his future. The astrologer pondered the positions of the planets and consulted the Shastras and finally gave his verdict: .Maharaja, all your relatives will die before you, you will perform their obsequies with
your own hands.. The king became furious. He was very much attached to his relatives and could not tolerate such a verdict. The king at once ordered that the poor astrologer should be given imprisonment for life.

Then the king sent for another astrologer. This man was more tactful than the first. He found that the previous astrologer’s readings were absolutely correct. So, he tactfully put the same truth the other way round. He said: .Maharaja, you have a very long life. You will live longer than all your relatives.. This also meant that all his relatives would die while the king was alive. The same fact had been very tactfully told to please the king. The king was highly pleased with the astrologer and gave him rich and costly presents. 

Therefore it is said that even while telling the truth, one should tell it in a pleasant manner. Even a truth should not be told in a way that will hurt the feelings of others. If it is told so, it is tantamount to untruth only. Your speech should be truthful, pleasant and beneficial.

What do you think? Should I have been more circumspect?

11 thoughts on “Reaction To Death II.”

  1. I could reply “No” and keep you happy . Or I could reply “Yes” and make you unhappy . Or I could be politically correct and reply ” Maybe” ! You must have read my email on being “politically correct” . I deleted it else I would have reproduced it here ! 🙂

    1. I was very tactful and diplomatic in my conversation with my friend during my condolence call Miriam. What K is talking about is my post here on the blog. He is a well wisher who would like me to be a popular fellow. So he is worried that my friend may read the post and get offended. I have referred to that possibility in my response to K. My friend has known me for decades and will not get offended. Good communication means the capacity to give another person an accurate picture of what is happening in your emotional and psychological life – and in particular, the capacity to describe its very darkest, trickiest and most awkward sides in such a way that others can understand, and even sympathise with them. I have tried to achieve that in my post. I repeat, I did not offend my friend in any way during the phone call.

  2. I agree with the thrust of this lesson. As it relates to my comment about a supposed close friend and the non-reaction to my wife’s recent passing I can only say I trust there is a reason for the silence but unless that reason is communicated I have no recourse but to remain most disappointed in the inaction of my friends. To reiterate what you said – not only should the truth be told in a positive way – it must be told

    1. Chuck, how different people react to news of bereavement in friends’ lives depend on their own conditioning and some may simply not be able to say anything at all being lost for words. There have been occasions when I had simply gone personally and sat next to the bereaved and said nothing. That may still happen in your case.

  3. Hi Rummy,

    I read the post that caused the exchange of thoughts and I didn’t find anything perturbing or indelicate in it; but perhaps it is just me (I have a very straightforward stance when it comes to death; to me it is just another form of life).

    As for telling the truth: I love the truth and the Truth. But it is true that we have to know how to convey both forms of veracity lol. However, sometimes it is not possible to be kind towards another, not when the trend is to spread lies, exercise the doublethink and enforce the newspeak (quite Orwellian, I know). Sometimes we just have to say it as it is. In sum, it depends on the situations (as King Solomon would say: there is a time for everything).

    Delightful post. Thank you.

    Max Coutinho recently posted..Israel: Three Abducted Teens & Time For Respect

    1. I too believe that what is said is not as important as how it is said and the debate is on exposing my inner most thoughts on paper in the post, not on what or how I spoke to my friend. I think that K would be quite satisfied now.

      1. Rummy, I was avoiding stating the obvious but here it goes: it is your blog, so I believe you can expose whatever you wish in it. But your friend did also well to express his thoughts on it, especially if he didn’t feel comfortable with it – now both of you had the chance to clear the air.
        Question: did his expression affect your future posts? Do you think you will be more cautious from now on?
        Max Coutinho recently posted..Political Bedfellows: The Maxiavellian Way

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