1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

What not to tell your friends or the gossip-killer that always works May 11, 2008

 image by axinia

This is a well-known Socrates story, but I keep meeting people who never heard of that. I love the wisdom here, because it is so simple and obvious. In fact, I also live it and every time someone comes to me, I just ask the same questions after Sokrates -Amazing, how embarassing it is then for the gossiper…


In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high
esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and

“Socrates, do you know what I just heard about your best friend?”

“Hold on a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before telling me anything
I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”

“Triple filter?”

“That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about
my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter
what you’re going to say. The first filter is Truth. Have you
made absolutely sure that 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. You may still pass
the test though, because there’s one filter left: the filter of
Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to
be useful to me?”

“No, not really.”

“Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is
neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”


This is why Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such
high esteem.



13 Responses to “What not to tell your friends or the gossip-killer that always works”

  1. Raman Says:

    I would say that the liberty to apply the filter is not always available..what say?

  2. Nita Says:

    Axinia, Socrates is a man after my own heart. He was one of the philosophers I admired greatly in my teen years and still do. Some people can’t get out of the habit of maligning others (without any idea of whether its true or not). I don’t want to psychoanalyse them here but there are many theories about the mental state of such people. I avoid them in real life and have as little to do with them on the net as well.

  3. sunshineforlife Says:

    beautiful story. the moral is great and very useful to everyone!

  4. axinia Says:

    @Raman, I guess the liberty of our choices is always with us 🙂 I basically dont like people speaking ill of others and I just stop them. There are also some delicate ways to say it, if you can not be very straightforward.

    @NIta, great comment!

    @sunshineforlife: if everyone will apply this, the life will be much easier 🙂

  5. Raj Says:

    I am a fan of ancient Greece and its philosophers . . . if we combine the philosophy of someone like Socrates and someone like Buddha, we would arrive at the Absolute Truth . . .

  6. axinia Says:

    nice 🙂 But there are some more: Abraham, Moses, Konfuzius, Raja Janaka,Lao Tze, Guru Nanak, Zaratustra, Saibaba from Shridi..
    These are truly the great Masters as well.

  7. radha Says:

    cool, we used this story last year in our newsletter at office to talk about improving relationships in the workplace.

    btw the people who gossip, it is good to love them and elevate them with some methods. it is not right to ignore them all the time. they also desearve to evolve , it might be possible.

  8. Nova Says:

    Beautiful! 🙂

  9. Raman Says:

    Well, if you are able to feel the liberty of choice within yourself and you are able to exercise it the way you wish, then great! Guess it’ll take some time for me to learn that. I often meet all kind of people – on & off the net..I enjoy the weirder ones – they teach you so much more! Also, for me, keeping my biases limited works out fine.

  10. Patanjali Ramlall Says:

    As for this topic of gossiping, please revert to the GOLDEN RULE, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

  11. axinia Says:

    grear rule indeed. but how many people follow this rule?

  12. Reiner Says:

    Thank you so much! Did I laugh about this wonderful story about that great man. Thank you, again! You made my day!

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