The 7th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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To be gentle (soracca) is to speak or act in a careful, mild and kindly way that causes no harm to others. The English word is derived from the Old French gentil meaning ‘of the same clan’ and referred to treating others as if they were one’s own family, while the Pāḷi word comes from sorata meaning placid or soft. The scriptures often mention the value of gentleness. ‘Those who love the noble Dhamma, who are pure in word, thought and deed; always peaceful, gentle, focused and composed; they proceed through the world properly’(Ja.III,442). The Buddha usually linked gentleness with mildness (maddava) and patience (khanti) and very clearly the three mutually support each other. Gentleness adds a special dimension to our practice of Right Speech and Right Action.
Sometimes it is necessary to criticize or correct someone and although we may do this with the best of intentions, it may still cause hurt. Wrapping such words in a mild tone and delivering them slowly and quietly, may lessen this hurt and make our words more likely to be accepted. It is possible to act with kindness and yet still do so in a rough, careless or rash manner. Again, doing what one does with gentleness will make such actions even more helpful and appreciated. Gentleness can become more a part of our behaviour in two ways. (1) Reflecting on The Buddha’s gentleness will act as both a reminder and an inspiration to be more gentle ourselves. (2) Speaking and acting with good intentions but doing so with Mindfulness also, will let us see where the things we are doing can be enhanced by gentleness.
Unfortunately, gentleness is sometimes looked down on because it is associated with weakness, timidity and lack or fortitude, which it may be sometimes. But if someone is gentle because they have chosen to be, because they see its Beauty and value, this need not be so. The gentle person may be strong while only appearing to be weak (Th.501). The Buddha said that the person who is gentle, mild and patient and yet is still firm (ajjava) and gets things done quickly (java), is worthy of the highest respect (A.III,248).
gentleness: "comes from experiencing the absence of doubt because mind and body are synchronized; state of remaining very soft and open and allowing tenderness to come into your heart." (pg 51) "When you are fully gentle, without arrogance and without aggression, you see the brilliance of the universe." (pg 119) "Being gentle and without arrogance is the Shambhala definition of a gentleman. (pg 116)"Gentleness is a consideration: A Shambhala gentlewoman or gentleman is a decent person, a genuine person. He or she is very gentle to himself and to others. The purpose of any protocol, or manners, or discipline that we are taught is to have concern for others." ... "The point of good behavior is to communicate our respect for others. ... When someone enters a room, we should say hello, or stand up and greet them with a handshake. Those rituals are connected with how to have more consideration of others. The principles of warriorship are based on training ourselves and developing self-control as that we can extend ourselves to others. The disciplines are important in order to cultivate the absence of arrogance."