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Feelings on Lying.
federicaSeeker of the clear blue sky...Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubtModerator
I'm aware this post was posted some time ago. But I thought the post I want to create is similar to this post.
Does anyone here see the fourth precept is the most hardest precept to practice? I think lying is not just limited to speech but also bodily action or even our mind.
It's said that white lie is still a lie. We meet people in society, in the workplace, family, etc., but whatever the purpose, we do hide our feelings, right?
Attending a job interview, for example, we give impression that we have confidence when in fact we do not have.
Looking at someone's nice wallet but look away when the owner looks at him.
I think those activities are not unfamiliar to us, right? So do you guys think lying is just speech or not? Do you think it's possible to not break this precept? Thanks.
(See this thread). Thanks.
Also, if you type "Right Speech" in the search bar above, you're gonna find a whole load more threads discussing what you have put forward. That's not to say you shouldn't be discussing it; I'm just giving you further immediate reference and input.
I take it quite seriously, lying usually doesn't come into my head and I often go out of my way (verbally) not to lie by omission or inexactitude.
There have been a few planned acts of deception which I have perpetrated, ranging from white lies on my cv to keeping family away from where their surprise presents were hidden. They are few and far between so it does not bother me very much.
Also I don't take it so strictly as to change my body language "for truth", or "for lies". I usually just act naturally, and wouldn't consider it breaking the fourth precept if I did puff out my chest a little and square the shoulders when passing a pretty woman on the boulevard. There is such a thing as taking the precept too far.
I lie a bit but not a huge amount.
Usually to protect mine or somebody else's feelings.
It might backfire if we try too hard to tell the truth - like there's some science to it or something. Like a lot of things, we learn the nuances as we go along. There is no hard, fast rules to telling the truth, methinks.
I bet that is not even your real name ... so of course we have levels or nuances as @silver says.
Most of us, well me at least are hypocrites. We have to develop integrity and know the way we deceive ourselves. Delusion is a form of unintentional lying ... and that is the norm according to dharma and my experience.
The very essence of our existence is the unfolding karmic lie that says we are separated from existence.
Our daily lies are just the "us verses them" reflections of that fundamental lie.
Trying to stop our daily lying without addressing the true source of those lies is as ineffectual as trying to eliminate the reflections in a mirror by constantly cleaning it.
While I am all for examining and manifesting the precept of not lying, keeping the real source of all lies in the forefront of such an examination better addresses the causes of this illness rather than just paying attention to it's symptoms.
Lying in some cases is understandable.
It doesn't make it right. But it's understandable.
I read a very good article some time ago, by a Buddhist monk on 'lying' and using the old chestnut of 'if you were hiding Jews and the Nazis came calling' dilemma. He gave a very good counter-argument as to why this example is both invalid and fatuous.
I wish I could find it now....
He basically explained that 'lying' to the Nazis was not a question of moral laws but of humane duty.
What in effect, is the negative karma gained by the intention of lying, when compared to the Nazi's negative karma with the intention to murder?
Which is worse?
To not lie, and give the Jews away, is complicit with murder.
The intention of lying is to avoid harm. Either committed personally, or by another.
The argument about lying to Nazis, and the consequential negative karma, is therefore non sequitur.
But lying to Nazi's under other circumstances is still negative karma
Lying to anyone under other circumstances is always negative kamma.
That includes lying to yourself.
That's where it all begins. With the lies we tell ourselves. Constant self-delusory thoughts we create and perpetuate in order to keep ourselves down. It's self-defeating and counter-productive. We inhibit our own progress with the falsehoods we end up believing.
Fortunately, we learn to do - and know - better, here....
Of course we do. Monks do not constantly tell us we are wasting our lives. Family encourage us to pursue useless status. We do not tell family members what we think of their behavour. We live in an environment where truth is too honest to bare ...
Yes. We wear masks, follow polite etiquette and diplomacy.
We have no avarice, no jealousy, no disdain, no lust? In short we are all pretending to be saints. I don't believe it ...
It is advisable to examine the nature of the real world but move towards the Real Qualities in ourselves.
Speaking for myself, today I undertake to refrain from false speech...
I would be a liar if I said it would be easy not to lie about how you truly feel about another person ...Could you image expressing what is truly on your mind ie, how you really felt about the other person "all the time"... "How to lose friends and offend people" ....or perhaps not
Some times a little stretching of the truth is called for
Bravo. That is the point. We are moving towards an ideal change and through practice may find our inner and outer beings are more in accord and ...
Do not be an inappropriate truth nazi.
How about in the court of law. All if not most of the lawyers needs some sort of lies to win the case.
I have come around to the view that precepts are not descriptors of what anyone could or would actually do. Rather they are descriptors of good advice everyone will ignore or act contrary to from time to time.
By this yardstick, it is impossible not to lie ... not least because language describes experience and there is no such thing as experience that can be adequately described. By this yardstick, everyone is lying all the time and the best anyone could do about it in a search for truth would be to shoulder the responsibility and recognize that living life in approximate ways (lies) is neither satisfactory nor pleasant.
But even here, there is a fly in the ointment: How is it possible that life -- yours, mine or anyone else's -- could ever be approximate? No one is 'approximately' alive. Even those who fall victim to so-called living-in-the-moment and all the chit-chat that goes with that are constrained to admit it: No one is 'approximately' alive.
And if any of this holds actual-factual water, then truth and lies are not so very different. Not the same, mind you, but not so different either. This is the realm of what the Hindus call "the razor's edge."
It's much too sharp for me .... and besides, I need another cup of coffee.
I object, your honour!
My H is qualified in Law. Lawyers do not lie. They cannot lie, because there is usually a good, strict Judge frowning down on them. It is honestly a legal impossibility for a Lawyer to lie.
What lawyers will do, however, is take the law, read its minutiae, and adhere to it to the strictest letter. Often utilising every angle possible to the advantage of both their client, and their pocket.
They can 'massage' the truth and the facts' in order to legally show them in their best light.
But lawyers - unless corrupt and incorrigibly bent - do not lie.
I think lying is often the result of a collision of the truth of our nature/Buddha mind that is always there, and the skewed perception of life that is brought on by all our causes and conditions (self/ego). It creates a bit of a schism in us, whereas those who can operate from their Buddha mind more frequently do not run into this problem as much. I think when you can be completely open and vulnerable and your wisdom comes from your true nature, then it's not so much an issue. You don't wonder things like "Am I lying?" because even if by definition something said or done was a lie, you don't have to look to understand, compare or judge it.
When we are stuck between Buddha mind and self/ego, then we are trying to figure out how to balance them, thinking about consequences in this life. Do you think people like TNH have to worry about such things? Or do they operate from another place in themselves that helps them to make the right decision for each situation and to be able to do so with compassion?
Have you ever had it happen where someone asks a question, and you answer and then later you can't believe that the answer came from you? like someone else was speaking through you, from some other place? I've had that happen on occasion, and when I go back and re-read it, it's like it wasn't even me saying those things. They came from elsewhere, somehow. I think that is more operating out of that nature/Buddha mind. The words come immediately and effortlessly, without thinking and strategizing. Whereas other times we will answer from a place of reason and logic, trying to form the sentences but not quite able to say what we want, worried about consequences of saying it right or who might read it, etc.
So rather than set some random rules in place, trying to follow them every day and feeling guilty that you were unable, perhaps it is better to keep those in mind (precepts) and work on developing peace and compassion in heart and mind, and realize that following the precepts will come naturally the more those fall into place.
Seems about right.
Peace, compassion and insight gives us the ability to understand our arisings and their nature. In particular their relationship to our words. Do our words lead to peace, compassion and insight or are they just the indulgent lies of mind and jaw twitter?
Lying is compounding the problem of wanting to be liked.
We lie to protect, some say, but what in fact are we protecting? Them? or Us?
Telling the truth all the time exposes us to the danger of THEIR anger, frustration, impatience, indignation, offence.....
So we say we lie to not hurt feelings. But if we are brutally honest, we lie to protect their feelings and ours too. Anything for the quiet life, eh....?
Sometimes, being honest - and always remembering to underpin it with kindness - can be far more effective than masking the truth with several coats of whitewash.
I had such an occasion these past three days when a colleague, who had taken the responsibility willingly to perform a specific task, failed to do so, and left me high and dry. (She had promised me a lift in her husband's car, to an occasion (40th birthday party) we had all been invited to. I ended up not going, because there ended up being no room in the car.)
She apologised profusely, and explained her reasoning, but that didn't matter. She still let me down. I politely, lovingly and kindly told her that I accepted her apology, but that it was probably wiser to not make such promises if it meant bringing other people into the equation to fulfil that promise, if they had no knowledge beforehand of that promise.
It left her a little nonplussed, but I added that it was ok, it was over; in the past. I really wasn't losing any sleep over it, and that I had no resentment. It DID matter at the time, particularly as I had readied myself for the lift and was all set and waiting to go.
But now? Now it wasn't a problem for me to move on and forget it, it was too trivial to give any great deal about.
I think my expressing my honest feelings on the matter, made her think a little, and surprised her. Like many others, she may well have been expecting an "Oh it's ok, don't worry about it, it doesn't matter!"
Which is dishonest and unproductive.
Next time you think telling a little white lie is better than telling the truth, ask yourself - who for?
Many moons ago whilst travelling in India, I would often stop to ask directions, for example I would point nodding my head and asked "Is this the right way to such and such ?" and what I found was at times when I've been walking in the wrong direction and possibly miles away from where I was meant to be heading, the person whom I asked the question to,( "Is this the right way to such and such ?" ) would with a nodding shake of their head smile and say yes to the direction I was pointing....
Later I was told (or I might have read it in a Lonely Planet travel bible that many thought it would be unwholesome karma on their part, for them to point out I was heading in the wrong direction, they didn't want to be the bearer of bad tiding, ie, by doing so could make me sad and somewhat cross with myself for travelling in the wrong direction...
Whether this holds any truth or not I have not explored the karma behind this line of thought, however I do see some logic behind the karmic thinking....
And that's no lie
Also, contradicting strangers, is considered bad manners, and accumulates bad kamma for themselves. Another hypothesis as to why the Japanese don't have a single word for 'no'. They have single words meaning "I am not entirely sure' or "I don't think I agree" but apparently (not being a Japanese speaker myself) not the single word 'No'.
This is a tough precept because sometimes telling the truth can cause more harm than silence.
It would be nice if we were all telepathic so deception would be impossible but we're not.
Sometimes people lie (or omit) to protect themselves from those who think they have a right to pry and ask questions. With some people you can simply say "I'm not comfortable talking to you about this, so I'm not going to." With other people it just makes them push more. I lied a lot to my mother as a teenager and a young adult. As a 40 year old, I still purposely omit telling her things even if she asks, because she cannot and will not accept "I don't want to discuss this with you" as an answer, and it is MY right as my own person to do so. Interactions between people always take 2, and it's not always the fault of one person how things turn out. It's up to the person who is lying to consider their reasons and work on that. But it's also up to the person who is lied to, if they find it is happening consistently, to evaluate how and if they are contributing to the problem by being overly pushy and nosey. We have this idea that because we ask someone a question, we are entitled to an answer. We aren't.
Tis said that "Honesty is the best policy!" So.........
I lie and have been lied to, and no doubt "I" will continue to lie and be lied to...They have their reasons and I have mine....
For the most part I'm as honest as the day is long .... in Iceland's winter months
Besides....Lying's not the problem...It's being caught out that's the bummer
Tee Hee. So true on various levels. My teacher did not not 'answer questions'. He was not a dharma slot machine that so many prefer/require ...
With regard to keeping the precepts, HHDL states:
In all circumstances it is necessary to evaluate the need for a particular action in relation to the precepts. According to time and circumstances, the necessity for an action may outweigh the fact that it is forbidden by the precepts, and in such circumstances we are not only permitted to transgress a vow but it is our duty to do so.*
*An example of this would be telling a lie if to do so will save the life of someone.
I'm still wondering, really, how many of us here, will ever find ourselves in such a dilemmic (or dilemmatic) position as to have the need to lie to save the life of another....
It is interesting to think of times when it would be appropriate to break the other precepts too e.g. drinking alcohol or sexual misconduct.
Few and far between I'd imagine!
Husband to wife: "I had to stay out and get drunk with my mate as he was depressed and needed a drinking buddy!"
Wife to husband: "I had to have sex with my work colleague or else he was going to sleep with his secretary who has herpes!"
^^^ The way of the Boddhisattva is strange indeed. Such compassion.
we, worldlings (pruthajjana) are lying all the time because we are deluded all the time
once one sees the Truth one starts not to lie but one is not successful all the time, namely when one is mindful (sathi and sampajanna) of the Truth only one is successful in not lying
Arahnts are not lying all the time because they are mindful of the Truth all the time
4th precept helps us to practice not to lie at worldly level
If you think about the amount of suffering and the severity of harm that thievery can cause, you get an idea of how lying can be just as equal to that. Sometimes lying is really not taken as serious an issue as a cause for harm and suffering.
As far as drawing the line of when and when not to tell the truth, the precepts are not meant to be hard rules. There were "exceptions" made to some rules. We should also allow exceptions to be made especially if the concern is of something to cause greater harm afterwards.
Being mindful of the Truth or having a wisdom body is tempered with compassion. Despite peoples high estimation of their capacity to bare the truth, they are usually unable.
Delusion and ignorance collude in a dharma transmission based on behavour or the cleverness of role breakers to expound favourable lies that benefit their behavour.
The Truth extracts a high price and it is that you must be able to keep it. Of course few really want The Truth, they just want a comfortable lie.
The results speak for themselves.
Exactly. Although HHDL may well have found himself facing such tortuous decisions in his far younger and politically precarious days, I suspect since finding himself outside of Tibet and safe from the ministrations of the Chinese Government, he has since not had such an awful situation arise.
Much less have we, and far less likely too.
So I think the point is generally moot. And as such, not an entirely valid premise to take into consideration.
The vast majority of us are honest, and choose to be open with our words.
When the situation arises for "White lies" (which as I outlined above, are just as much told to cover our own backs as well as spare someone else's feelings) it is better to consider telling the truth in a skilful manner, rather than telling a lie with mixed intentions, however benevolent we might believe or want them to be.....
A friend of mine once said, 'Honesty is an overrated virtue. Sensitivity underrated."
Maybe he was on to something.
^^^ Well said that friend of @techie
Many ultra spirituals wear honesty with righteous infantility (sad but true)
If we are more compassionate, we take into account the nature and capacity of recipients and naturally temper and kindify (new non word) our truth-uber-alles inclinations ...
This is where compassion and wisdom merge ...
Perhaps, but you can go too far the other way. It's an error made by whole nations, in my experience. For a long time I lived in England, in some of those very English villages in the middle of the country. Everyone there was excruciatingly polite, to the extent that most people would not talk to you unless they had a specific reason. One shouldn't disturb, you know. With as a result that it's quite difficult to get to know people. There is this kind of patina, a fear of embarrassment, some polite fictions that one maintains.
It was one of the reasons I decided to move back to the Netherlands. Dutch people are more straightforward, more honest and more open. It is easier to meet people and form a heartful connection, because most are happy to chat to you and open about it. People are happy that others are interested in them, and will share their circumstances freely. Yes it leads to the occasional clash, where that honesty can come across as rudeness, but with kindness and tolerance that can easily be resolved.
If I'm not sure if I'm breaking a precept I ask myself one question.
Am I following the path of the least foreseeable harm?