10 Non-Virtues: Idle Gossip

In ‘The Four Noble Truths’, Geshe Tashi Tsering describes “idle gossip” in the following ways on pg.89:

Perhaps the words that we say are not directly harmful, but think of the hours we waste in meaningless chitchat, especially if we extend the definition of this non-virtue to include watching soap operas!

“Idle gossip” is one of four non-virtuous actions of speech, which includes “lying”, “divisive speech”, and “harsh words”. The other three have a more obvious negative impact:

  • Lying: Misleading people, even if this is done by remaining silent.
  • Divisive speech: Causes friction or break-up a group or partnership.
  • Harsh words: May include harmful language or a harmful intent behind the words.

“Idle gossip” seems unimportant compared to the other nonvirtuous actions of speech. But Geshe Tashi Tsering increases the scope of “idle gossip” to include watching soap operas. Many people spend 1 hour or more of every weekday watching inconsequential TV programmes, including the following:

  • Soap operas.
  • Entertainment TV programmes about Hollywood celebrities or entertainers such as musicians.
  • Morning TV or lifestyle TV.

Other ways of idling away time might include the following:

  • Daydreaming otherwise entertaining a fantasy world.
  • Watching a lot of sports.
  • Idly browsing the web.