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Do words have power?

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  • Do words have power?

    Dear Venerable,

    I'm trying to make long story short.

    I was involved in a temple a few years ago, I used to consult my personal life problem with the monk. My nationality is different to theirs, I was not a member of this temple and of different ethnicity, they know about this. This was the closest temple to my address. I did receive unwelcome treatment every now and then. Casual conversation in English language was normal after meditation/prayer session, it was not rare political issues between countries were brought up, I did feel uncomfortable. The only think I can think of is I was disliked culturally, politically or maybe because of different background, but it's hard to be sure 100% as I did/do not speak their language.

    Until one day, I found out my personal problems spread to the member(s) of this temple. My personal problems also went to the website of other temple of the same ethnicity as theirs, I was shocked, I never told them. The website describing my personal problems in detail, that is my personal problems.
    But the difference is, it says: "This guy is a leper". Approximately a few weeks after I read it, I tried to visited the website again, surprisingly my story disappeared.

    It leaves me concern.
    I have no leprosy. I heard some words carry power such as words that use to curse people, it is said that it can affect the present and/or future lives. Will I suffer from leprosy, will these words become reality? Thank you.
    Last edited by Steve Tanu; 4th-March-2018, 08:35 PM.

  • #2
    Dear Steve,

    You wanted to know if words carry power, whether you can be cursed by someone else. From what I understand, words carry power, but only of YOU give it power - that is, by taking others words into your heart , chewing and mulling over it, until it becomes real for you.

    Being a human being, we are always going to be praised and blamed - this is one of the 'eight worldly winds' as the Buddha put it. So we cannot ever avoid being criticized in life. A 'curse' is just another 'worldy wind', and it is in how we deal with it that the Dhamma gives us advice.

    So, how do you react to those people who have hurt you? I would say, the best is to let it go, and respond with loving-kindness as much as you possibly can.

    This soft response is really beneficial - it might be difficult for the first time, but it is for your benefit, and will get easier the more you tune your heart toward it.

    With metta,
    Ven Upekkha


    • #3
      Thanks Venerable. The purpose of consulting our personal problems is about problems, it can also mean sharing our strength and weakness whether directly or indirectly. If people we are consulted with know about ourselves for example they know this person is worry personality type or maybe greedy personality type, these words can become powerfully harmful. In other words, it is possible my/our weakness is used against me/ourselves.

      I would like to ask, it's said we have been in samsara for a very long time, we have committed many good and bad deeds. Good kamma needs appropriate condition to ripen and vice versa. If someone is worry personality type, and the other person knows your weakness and said "you are a leper!" The appropriate condition is just created and that person is doomed to suffer from that disease, am I right?
      Last edited by Steve Tanu; 25th-June-2018, 12:13 AM.


      • #4
        Although our belief is extremely important, if we believe in it then it may affect us. But there are many true stories, one of them is:

        Someone does not know anything and does not believe in black magic or curse. suddenly falls sick, they experience extreme pain in the stomach. Go to the doctor to examine the illness, doctor tells them to do X-ray and they see a lot of needles (more than 26) in the stomach. They are not swallowing needles. Black magic or perhaps curse can affect us although we do not believe in it. The victim does not know who send the needles into their stomach, though.

        I'm not saying someone does black magic to me, well, I do not know. But I just say if our belief is very important, then why those people affected by it although they do not believe in magic? Do you have any thoughts, Venerable?


        • #5
          Dear Steve,

          Forgive me for taking so long to reply. I am away from the monastery with my grandaunt who is dying, and did not log onto the Forum. I hope you have not been ruminating too much on your worries!

          Well, I am no expert on this matter, but from what I understand, black magic does exist and you don't necessarily have to 'believe' in black magic for it to affect you. The Buddha speaks of the power of a curse to Upali in MN 56.

          The point though is, how much can it affect you and how do you protect yourself? And to this end, the most important thing is your virtue - and how you react.

          I found a wonderful reply to a similar question on the internet. Rather than repeat it, have a look at

          You may also want to start chanting Parittas regularly. For thousands of years these have been used as protection against malevolent spirits and the like. The Atanatiya Sutta especially. Remember to share your merits with all beings.

          I am sure you know that worrying is not useful. YOU ARE NOT OBLIGED TO THINK OVER AND OVER AGAIN. You CAN let it go. A couple of stories come to mind that might convince you of the futility remembering other people's bad words -

          - Ajahn Chah: “If someone calls you a dog, look behind to see whether you have a tail. If you don’t find one, then you are not a dog!"

          - During the Buddha’s time, supporters of other sects, after hearing the Buddha’s teaching were so inspired that they left their teacher to follow the Buddha. Their leaders were jealous and during their public talks, abused and discredited the Buddha and his teachings. To this the Buddha said, "if someone were to make lots of food offerings to me but I do not partake of it, to whom then does the food belong? It belong to the owners."

          - There was once a Zen monk who was travelling with his attendant. When they reached the river they got ready to wade across. There was a woman there who also needed to get across but was too frightened to try crossing. The kind monk offered to piggy back her. He did so, much to her delight and gratitude. The three managed to cross over safely he let her down and they departed in different directions. The attendant, however was unhappy with what the monk did. His mind was going round and round "how can a monk piggy back a woman? He should know better. He shouldn't have done that." This went on his head for a whole week. Until he could not stand it anymore. He then confronted the monk to tell him that he was disappointed in him for having done that. To this the monk replied that when he let the woman down after crossing the river he completely let the incident go without ever thinking about it but "you (the attendant) kept bringing her up in your mind for so long, unable to let go."

          -A teaching by Ajahn Brahm: Someone calls you an idiot then you start to think "How can they call me an idiot? They've got no right to call me an idiot! How rude to call me an idiot! I'll get them back for calling me an idiot!" And you suddenly realise that you have just let them call you an idiot another four times. Every time that you remember what they said you allow them to call you an idiot. There lies the problem, someone calls you an idiot, and you immediately let it go, then it doesn't bother you. There is the solution. Why allow other people to control your inner happiness?

          May you find peace of mind!

          With metta,
          Ven Upekkha



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