Would this break the fourth precept?

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Would this break the fourth precept?

Postby Tom » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:31 am

If you say to someone "I never eat pasta without sauce", meaning you hardly eat pasta without sauce, not literally never, would this be a breach of the fourth precept?
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Re: Would this break the fourth precept?

Postby polarbuddha101 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:43 am

It depends on how strictly you want to take the 4th precept. I would say that it is, because the precepts don't just provide us with good kamma or provide safety for other beings, but they also allow the mind to be more honest with itself and exaggeration works against that. Hindsight is 20/20, and the fact that you're asking this question shows that you've reflected on your action/speech which is a praiseworthy thing. So next time, maybe you could just say, "I almost never eat pasta without sauce" and then there's no way you would question whether you broke the precept.

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"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Would this break the fourth precept?

Postby Ben » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:51 am

Unless you were intentionally attempting to deceive someone, you might be guilty of not being very mindful of your communication style.
Its always good to be as precise as possible when using language, but sometimes we fall into habitual modes of expression.

The fourth precept has four factors:
atatham-vatthu — a falsehood.
visam-vadana-cittam — the intention to speak a falsehood.
tajjo vayamo — the effort is made.
parassa ta-dattha-vijananam — others understand what was said.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ha.html#qa


All four factors need to be present for a breach of the fourth precept to occur.
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Re: Would this break the fourth precept?

Postby barcsimalsi » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:54 am

ccharles wrote:If you say to someone "I never eat pasta without sauce", meaning you hardly eat pasta without sauce, not literally never, would this be a breach of the fourth precept?

Don't think so. Because there's no intention to lie, it's just a habitual speech from your local language.
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Re: Would this break the fourth precept?

Postby Buckwheat » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:28 pm

ccharles wrote:If you say to someone "I never eat pasta without sauce", meaning you hardly eat pasta without sauce, not literally never, would this be a breach of the fourth precept?

Did the listener understand what you really meant?
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Would this break the fourth precept?

Postby daverupa » Sat Apr 27, 2013 4:01 pm

Buckwheat wrote:
ccharles wrote:If you say to someone "I never eat pasta without sauce", meaning you hardly eat pasta without sauce, not literally never, would this be a breach of the fourth precept?

Did the listener understand what you really meant?


Was there an intention to mislead (false speech), or is the idiom frivolous (idle speech)?

Does the fourth precept make reference to the four speech acts referred to in kammapatha, or is it to be understood as only one of those four?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Would this break the fourth precept?

Postby Lazy_eye » Sat Apr 27, 2013 4:31 pm

Unless you were deliberately setting out to deceive, I don't think it's a breach of the precept. Informal/conversational language tends to be loose and flexible, like a pair of baggy jeans.

Still, I think it's a good idea to try and use more precise language, as imprecision can create misunderstandings.

A therapist named David Burns has suggested that habitual use of "always" and "never" can fuel psychological afflictions, as these terms lend themselves to unhealthy self-talk ("I'll NEVER get this right," "I ALWAYS screw this up", etc).
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Re: Would this break the fourth precept?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sat Apr 27, 2013 5:25 pm

I think we must not be fundamentalists. When the Buddha says something like "There are 1000 other world systems", do you think it's actualy exactly 1000? Don't you think it's like rounding up the time in your clock saying "It's 5:15" when it's actualy 5:14?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Would this break the fourth precept?

Postby Dennenappelmoes » Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:25 pm

I am very much a fan of Ajahn Brahm when it comes to this. In all of his talks that listened to (and there were many) he never mentioned "honesty" (in the sense of speaking factual correctness). He always talks about skillful speech. Also, he stresses that to him, the definition of truth is that which brings peace and harmony. If something leads to argument, to disagreement, to division, how can it be true? Following this argument, saying "you don't look fat in that at all" can be 'true'/skilfull even when it isn't a factual truth.

To me, I tend to focus on what the speech causes. If someone was nervous about doing something and then asks "did I do ok?" when they didn't, I may well say "yes" because this conveys that I have confidence in them, which is the truth, whereas saying "no" would convey that I did not have confidence in them, which would be false. However, this is a slippery slope and the way I see it, it needs to be balanced with humble, honest personal reflection to ensure the intention wasn't to deceive, just as the others have mentioned.

But the best advice is to just always eat pasta with sauce, you avoid the problem and it's much healthier and less gross as well! :namaste:
Last edited by Dennenappelmoes on Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Would this break the fourth precept?

Postby Tom » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:08 am

Buckwheat wrote:
ccharles wrote:If you say to someone "I never eat pasta without sauce", meaning you hardly eat pasta without sauce, not literally never, would this be a breach of the fourth precept?

Did the listener understand what you really meant?

I didn't actually say these exact words, I'm using "I never eat pasta without sauce" as an example. But if the person saying these words didn't have the intention to suggest that he/she literally never eats pasta without sauce, what significance does the listener's own understanding of what the speaker said have?
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Re: Would this break the fourth precept?

Postby Tom » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:22 pm

daverupa wrote:
Buckwheat wrote:
ccharles wrote:If you say to someone "I never eat pasta without sauce", meaning you hardly eat pasta without sauce, not literally never, would this be a breach of the fourth precept?

Did the listener understand what you really meant?


Was there an intention to mislead (false speech), or is the idiom frivolous (idle speech)?

If there isn't an intention to mislead, would this be considered idle chatter?
daverupa wrote:Does the fourth precept make reference to the four speech acts referred to in kammapatha, or is it to be understood as only one of those four?

I'd like to know this as well
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Re: Would this break the fourth precept?

Postby seeker242 » Wed May 01, 2013 12:22 am

"While you are performing a verbal act, you should reflect on it: 'This verbal act I am doing — is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful verbal act, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it. MN 61 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Does speaking non-literally about your pasta sauce eating habits lead to "self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both"? Does it have " painful consequences, painful results"? I am going to venture a guess and say probably not. :)
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