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The Three Gates Hot Conversation

There is an old Arab proverb that everything you write or speak should pass through three gates: Is this kind? Is this necessary? Is this true?

 

Full Disclosure: the proverb cited above is NOT the one I meant to write about today. But. given the disagreement I’ve had with a family member this weekend (via FaceBook e-mail) when that proverb appeared on my computer screen this a.m., it seemed like a missive from heaven. I’m reminded of what one VN member wrote a couple of weeks ago in response to another post: that the message comes ‘when the student is ready.’

 

Well, I’m the student, and maybe I’m ready….

 

When I sat down at the computer this morning, I meant to write about a Sanskrit proverb. I was looking up the etymology of the word ‘proverb’ in the online Cambridge Dictionary when this Arabic proverb appeared on my screen. As an aside, the etymology of ‘proverb’ comes from old French, meaning ‘more than a word,’ a pretty ho hum etymology. Not nearly as interesting as the etymology of the word ‘poppycock’ which my father told me many years ago, as he sat in his rocking chair next to the fireplace in the kitchen.

 

It seems that ‘poppy’ is derived from the same ancient Sanskrit word as is the English word ‘pabulum,’ meaning something soft and mushy. ‘Cock’ comes from the same Sanskrit root as does ‘caca’ in Spanish, which is an indelicate word for excrement….in another word, ‘shit.’ So, as my father explained this one to me when I was a teenager, poppycock is something so utterly worthless that “it’s not even a good hard shit, it’s soft shit.” (Quoting Daddy here…he was always my best teacher!)

 

Well, when I read that Arabic proverb, it struck me that few of our communications, uttered or written, can pass through all three of those gates.

 

The first gate I consistently fail is, “Is this necessary?” I’m sure a lot of what I say day in and day out is utter crap, empty chatter, unnecessary noise, soft shit, in a word ‘poppycock.’ But isn’t poppycock sort of the sound track of life, the continual inner chatter of the mind which most of us are powerless to control, at least at our current level of consciousness? And that chatter WILL breach the gate and pass my lips….I know it’s so.

 

And about the gate of truth, who amongst us knows what is true? Remember those graphs in high school algebra, where we plotted points on the ‘x’ and ‘y’ axes? The world is a vast, infinitely complicated graph and we’re all a bunch of dots occupying billions of widely scattered points. Then to make matters worse, everything and everybody is continually in motion, so the field is never stable. Mind boggling! So the field I see from my point of view can never match what you see from your point of view. It’s impossible! (The strangest part is that not one of us can see ourselves!) We’re all captives to our own unique point of view ensuring that no one has a monopoly on what is ultimately true.

 

The last gate is kindness. It seems to me that’s the only gate we can really control. It’s probably the most important gate too. Every major world religion has some expression of the Law of Reciprocity, the universally recognized rule for right and wrong behavior. Many of us know it as the Golden Rule, expressed by Jesus: “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”

 

So, I’m going to TRY to remember not to say or write anything that I would not want said or written to me. That’s hard. Especially in the free wheeling, no holds barred environment of the world wild web where anonymity grants a permissiveness not customary in face to face encounters.

 

My great grandmother, a simple but wise woman from Sugar Tree, Tennessee had it right: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

 

Be Well and Good Luck,

Martha Maria

 

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11 Responses

  1. Generic Image SIZZELN says

    MM afternoon, And glad to see you. Since you mention “JESUS” words, I believe I need to challenge you on something!…JESUS called some people very unpleasant things so they would see themselves hopefully! Hypocrites, thief/thieves, put on pretense, making someone a child of hell!, blind guides, people who omitted  judgment, mercy and faith, making themselves look clean on the outside, but stayed dirty on the inside, full of extortion, excess, people try to appear righteous, full of iniquity, killers, vipers Matt 23:13-34, these do not seem kindly to me, so my point, ”If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” something may need to be said that is not, in our human judgment nice, yet right!
    It is always right to be kind and live in peace, if it is up to you/us…TRACK :-)

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    • Martha Maria Martha Maria says

      Hi Track.  Good to see you too.  Point taken.  But I personally don’t speak with the authority of Jesus…..so I don’t believe that he wants ME to tell people off.  In fact, I’m recalling another of his commandments, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”  Jesus has the right to judge the world, in fact, the Bible tells us that he WILL return in glory to judge the world.  But it doesn’t tell me (anywhere that I know…and I’m no Bible scholar) to utter judgements.   

       

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    • Martha Maria Martha Maria says

      Hi Track.  Good to see you too.  Point taken.  But I personally don’t speak with the authority of Jesus…..so I don’t believe that he wants ME to tell people off.  In fact, I’m recalling another of his commandments, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”  Jesus has the right to judge the world, in fact, the Bible tells us that he WILL return in glory to judge the world.  But it doesn’t tell me (anywhere that I know…and I’m no Bible scholar) to utter judgements.   

       

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    • Martha Maria Martha Maria says

      Hi Track, I’m having mysterious problems with VN today. I wrote this once, it seemed to take, indeed, it’s on my “My VN” page, but as far as I can tell, not showing up here, so I’m trying again.  And if you see it twice, apologies. 

      Anyway, what I wrote was, thanks and good to see you too.  Your point is well taken.  But I don’t feel like I have the authority that Jesus does to judge.  In fact, I recall, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”  The Bible says that Jesus will return in glory to judge the world, but doesn’t tell me that I should judge.  I’m just supposed to be nice, as far as I can tell, and I’m not doing so hot at that one lately, so I think I better lay off anything more ambitious. 

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      • Martha Maria Martha Maria says

        And NOW when I clicked post for this one, my other one shows up and TWICE at that……WHAT is going on here??????????   Sorry…..MM

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    • Generic Image SIZZELN says

      MM, We judge every single day, however with righteous judgment, we are not doing the same wrong things! That would be unrighteous judgment. Matt 7:4-5. We judge if a person is stealing, robbing, fleeing, never shows mercy, omitted righteous judgment, puts on pretense, look good on the outside but full of dead mans bones, we look at their fruit, a tree is known by…these things happen everyday in life and we mentality judge, even if you never say a word…one reason there is courts…TRACK…if we know “it’s stop thief” right? 
      P.S. VN response buttons and moving from page to page is faulty, it does become a bit much…

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      • Martha Maria Martha Maria says

        I like that…looking good on the outside but full of dead man’s bones.  Did you write that or is that somewhere in the Bible?

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      • Generic Image SIZZELN says

        Bible scripture, Matt 7:1-5, stated above paraphase “Let me take the sin out of your eyes, and I have the same sin in mine” unrighteous judgment, GOD calls that person hypocrite! Romans 2:1…TRACK..i’m not that smart, or holy…

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  2. ThurmanLady ThurmanLady says

    Thanks, Track!  You took most of the words/thoughts that I had and put them down!

    I’ve always hated that saying: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”  (Sorry to your Great Grandmother and the other millions of people who say that!)  Not that I do a lot of talking; I tend to be fairly quiet, kind and compassionate toward others.  But I don’t believe in saying nothing.  I believe in saying something with kindness.  As in: “Mean what you say and say what you mean.  Just don’t say it mean.”

    Here is part of something I wrote about “judgment” in another post, because it applies here:

    The Bible never said we were to be blind to what was right in front of our eyes.  We can see outward appearances and draw our own conclusions, but only God can see the purposes and intents of the heart.

    One of my favorite sayings is:  “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those that matter don’t mind and those that mind, don’t matter.”

    I will say that I believe whoheartedly in the Golden Rule.  I’d like others to treat me with kindness, but tell me if I need to be told!  Or, in your case, write it if I need to read it!  And, yes, the message will come when the student is ready!  Sometimes I’m told something – or tell someone something – and the point is taken sometimes weeks or months later!

    TL ♥

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    • Martha Maria Martha Maria says

      Hello Thurman, I like your quote about saying what you mean, but not saying it mean.  Also, what you said about a point being WELL taken, eventually. 

      About judgement, I’ve always felt that I’ve made so many whopper mistakes, that I have no business judging anybody else’s. About self judgement, well, I’ve been pretty good at beating myself up, historically.  I think I’m about over that though.  Maybe one of the gifts of age.      

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