One of the perhaps most difficult things to quit, to give up, when one seeks to adopt a “spiritual” way of life is the modern addiction to salacious gossip in all its forms. One could say that gossip is a bedrock of social media and that it sells newspapers and magazines. Humanity lives vicariously through the lives of others presented for our consumption. Gossip is pushed like a wrap of fentanyl laced heroin.
Many would say, “oh no not me, I am not a gossip”. Well they may not be a pusher but they will score a wrap from time to time. This pays the pushers.
Quite a while back I was thoroughly shocked by an old acquaintance from school. We met up and he wanted to know the ins and outs of both my private life and those of anyone we knew in common. I was genuinely surprised because it was so obvious that he was almost salivating. “Really?”, I thought.
I have joked that the collective noun for a group of academics is a gossip of academics.
In principle an academic is detached and has a cool considered oversight. But that is not the case, they seemed obsessed about who got which grant, who has the higher measure of esteem and where people are in the “blessed” league tables.
Lofty pursuance of academic thought, nah. One upmanship and gossip about who is on the up and who is on the down are readily to be found. If there is any sex scandal, all the better. In the past academia had its own version of the casting couch too. Academia gets a metaphorical hard on for scandal. It likes the salacious just like anyone else.
Trungpa suggests that the Ego is forever trying to use spiritual teachings for its own benefit. Thus, gossip about whichever guru may masquerade as intelligent inquiry, when in fact it is just gossip clothed differently.
If you look at various publications you can classify a very large amount of their content as being gossip related and much of it hearsay carefully couched so as to avoid libel court action. It seems we all want to know what people are speculating as to the minds of Harry and William. There are “clairvoyant” royal “experts” who can read their minds for our “benefit”.
I know that at various stages of my life I have been a subject of gossip. The use of “a” is deliberate because I was only one topic amongst a host. It rarely occurs to people that gossip can damage even ruin careers. But people, it seems, cannot resist and love the attention from listeners which a juicy titbit might offer them
“Have you heard about…”
“Really? Well, I never…”
I will make a postulate.
You cannot achieve liberation whilst you are a purveyor and consumer of gossip. If you are in anyway attached to gossip you are not free. You are addicted and suffer from the fear of missing out on the latest juicy and salacious titbit. You damage the web of life by your obsession.
You may be able to do the most complex asana but if gossip has you, then you are simply a bendy gossip.
In order to be free one has to reorient oneself apropos of gossip, maybe go cold turkey.
Here are some questions to help. Honesty instead of justification may help.
Do I like to hear gossip?
Do I find it a tad salacious?
Have I ever damaged anyone by gossiping about them?
Have I ever been damaged by gossip?
Am I perhaps more addicted to gossip than I would like to admit?
Is gossip in any way life enhancing?