Question: Buddhists shouldn’t use vulgar language as this leads to negative imprints on our mind? What can they lead to?
Answer: The very fact that they are vulgarities means that they are spoken out of hatred, with harshness from a mind not at peace. Harsh speech is against Right Speech in the Noble Eightfold Path and the Fourth Precept. This hatred harms oneself and others, even if just verbally and mentally. Harsh speech is a form of verbal violence. The karmic imprints might lead to being habitually harsh, leading to being disliked and shunned by others.
Question: What if vulgarities are added out of ‘habit’ to speech, with no intention of harming or offending others? Is that acceptable? (It is common to hear words like ‘f*ck’ in conversations nowadays.)
Answer: If usage of vulgarities are habitual, then all the more they should be reduced and stopped – because habits can go on from life to life. Spiritual cultivation is about the refinement and purification of body, speech and mind for greater expression of compassion and wisdom. Even if there are no ill intentions, some who overhear might misunderstand and take offence. Perhaps a simple way to look at this is to remember that since we cannot imagine a Buddha who habitually speaks vulgarities out of no ill intention, why should we imagine this habit can lead to Buddhahood, or even to ‘not hamper’ the path to Buddhahood?