Triple Filter Test

I was speaking on the phone with  a friend who had just returned from a trip to Sri Lanka.  I was psyched because I often live vicariously through her stories  about her exotic vacations.  When doing so, she describes the unique places in the present tense as though I am right there with her.

But today, instead of taking me on a mental journey of her experience with the Buddhist culture, she gossiped about a mutual friend.  I was disappointed because I really wanted to hear about the culture I would probably never get to experience.  “Wait a second”, I interrupted, unsuccessfully trying to change the subject.  By the time she finished gossiping, I had to rush to an appointment and  I “missed the trip” to Sri Lanka.

Remember the story about Socrates?  He was  approached by someone with the intent to gossip, “Socrates, do you know what I just heard about your friend?”

Before allowing the man to continue, Socrates told him to first pass the “Triple Filter Test.”  Socrates said, ” The first filter is Truth. Are you sure  what you are about to tell me is true?”

“No,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it and…”

“All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend, something good?”

“No, on the contrary…”

“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him, but you’re not certain it’s true.  Socrates explained there was still a chance for the man to pass the test.  The third filter  was Usefulness.  “…Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?”, Socrates inquired.

“No, not really.”

Socrates summarized with a challenge, “If what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”  And there you have it,

Triple filter test:  Truth, Goodness, Usefulness

My friend had not applied the triple filter test either.  I do not know if her information was true, but  it was neither positive nor useful! I know that after I have engaged in gossip,  I am disappointed in myself because I know what I have said (or listened to) is often biased, unfair, and of little value.

What is it that encourages me to gossip at all?  Most of the time it is when  I am ticked off about something that someone said or did to me, and I feel the need to gain support of the wrong doing.  I  exaggerate  what  was said, how it was said, and  the impact on me.  Generally I am persuasive enough to get the listener to tell me what a jerk the subject was. And what exactly does that do for me??????

Having experienced the challenge of a failed marriage, I rarely gossip about someone’s failed marriage or relationship.  Knowing how hard I worked to be successful in business, I rarely gossip about someone’s failed attempt at starting a business and managing others. I cannot sing so I certainly do not gossip about others attempts to do so.  My gossip seems to be earmarked to gain me sympathy, to make another look bad, and me look like an innocent victim. Interesting discovery for me…hmmm

Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN levels do not waste time spreading or listening to gossip–they are above it.  Occasional gossip is one thing that keeps me from being at my highest SUCCESSTROGEN level and therefore needs attention.  Starting today, I am going to apply the

Triple filter test:  Truth, Goodness, Usefulness

and frankly, I hope others use it before they gossip about me! I will also have to get better at confronting those who offend me so that I can get rid of the bad, “victim” or “poor me” feeling.  I need to settle my dispute where it happened, not keep it going by bringing it to the attention of someone else.

And what about you? Any use for the Triple Filter Test???????

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2 responses to “Triple Filter Test

  1. Pam Gillette Frye

    MAO…. sometimes gossip is just that “gossip.” The unfortunate is that those who are gossiped about are powerless to plead their case.” Perhaps we should concentrate on those who have the power to change peoples thought process with their “power.”

  2. Love this parable – I was not familiar with it, but I think it is excellent advice to incorporate into our daily lives. And I think you taught yourself your own Buddhist lesson in ahimsa.

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