Home » Movies » Without ‘Doubt’, The Best Anti-Gossip Sermon?

In the movie ‘Doubt’, Father Brendan Flynn masterfully delivered this unnerving sermon… ‘A woman was gossiping with her friend about a man whom they hardly knew… [Note: Such is the nature of gossip, which is spread of the unverified. The Buddha taught that false, double-tongued, harsh and useless speech should be avoided. Destructive gossip can be a mix of the above] That night, she had a dream. A great hand appeared over her and pointed down on her. She was immediately seized with an overwhelming sense of guilt. The next day she went to confession. She got the old parish priest, Father O’ Rourke, and she told him the whole thing. “Is gossiping a sin?” she asked the old man. “Was that God Almighty’s hand pointing down at me? Should I ask for your absolution? Father, have I done something wrong?” [Note: That hand could represent any higher being chiding her, or her conscience at work.]

“Yes,” Father O’ Rourke answered her. “Yes, you ignorant, badly-brought-up female. You have blamed false witness on your neighbour. You played fast and loose with his reputation, and you should be heartily ashamed.” So, the woman said she was sorry, and asked for forgiveness. [Note: Forgiveness should be sought directly from both the wronged and those affected by one’s false speech.] “Not so fast,” says O’ Rourke. “I want you to go home, take a pillow upon your roof, cut it open with a knife, and return here to me.” So, the woman went home, took a pillow off her bed, a knife from the drawer, went up the fire escape to her roof, and stabbed the pillow. Then she went back to the old parish priest as instructed.

“Did you gut the pillow with a knife?” he says. “Yes, Father.” “And what were the results?” “Feathers,” she said. “Feathers?” he repeated. “Feathers everywhere, Father.” “Now I want you to go back and gather up every last feather that flew out onto the wind,” “Well,” she said, “It can’t be done. I don’t know where they went. The wind took them all over.” “And that,” said Father O’ Rourke, “is gossip!”‘ [Note: The harm and negative karma spread by unwholesome speech or any other form of communication easily and continues to spin out of control when not curbed and rectified in time. As such, the damage done from careless speech can not only become severe, but be increasingly so, leading to rebirth in the tongue-pulling hell for extended time. May all who communicated with greed, hatred and/or delusion repent with remedial action now, lest such a terrible destiny awaits.]

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