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In family gatherings and all other public areas – school, worksite, temple, street – we hear statements of slander moving constantly from mouth to ear to mouth. Slander amounts to malicious misrepresentation, even vilification, of people’s character.  Slander is calumny – it is aimed at injuring the image and reputation of someone else. People slander and vilify our character in one of two scenarios – either we commit vice and wrongdoing, or our virtuous action impedes them – it stands in the way of their agenda being fulfilled. Our pursuit of selfless duty frustrates their pursuit of selfish goals.  

We should not be preoccupied if people uselessly find fault with our virtuous actions. However, if we engage in slander and calumny, if we misrepresent and injure a person’s character, then we must hasten to cease. Why? Because many times such slander has no basis in truth and it brings us suffering and torment. For example, let’s make a malicious statement that sullies and vilifies a person’s image, and see where it takes us. Traveling from mouth to mouth to mouth, the statement reaches the ear of the person vilified.  He angrily demands an explanation from us, and we either deny or accept making the statement.  Either way, the person either erupts in anger, calling us dirty names, or, worse than that, he takes us to court for defamation of character. Chances are that witnesses come forward to testify that we did make the slanderous statement and we get a judgment against us, causing us to have to pay huge sums of money. The pain of having to go through a defamation case, or even to answer to the vilified person, amounts to torture and torment.  So, before we go to sleep at night, we should clasp our palms and pray in this manner: O Soma, King of Peace!  Protect us from making slanderous statements – they bring suffering and torment. On the other hand, controlling the words we utter brings tremendous joy.