Lying

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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DCM
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Lying

Post by DCM » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:05 pm

Okay, so I'm trying to push on with my observation of the 5 precepts. The one I have a problem with at the moment is the 4th, Lying.

The problem I have is that I did some bad things a long time ago. Now if someone were to ask me a question around something I done, if I answered truthfully it would very likely destroy the relationship and break up a family.

I think I should just have to bear the vipaka that will come of lying in this circumstance, as telling the truth would cause a lot of pain, although I dearly want to keep the precept, I feel hemmed in by my past kamma.

What would the Buddha have said to do in this circumstances?

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Sam Vara
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Re: Lying

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:38 pm

DCM wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:05 pm
Okay, so I'm trying to push on with my observation of the 5 precepts. The one I have a problem with at the moment is the 4th, Lying.

The problem I have is that I did some bad things a long time ago. Now if someone were to ask me a question around something I done, if I answered truthfully it would very likely destroy the relationship and break up a family.

I think I should just have to bear the vipaka that will come of lying in this circumstance, as telling the truth would cause a lot of pain, although I dearly want to keep the precept, I feel hemmed in by my past kamma.

What would the Buddha have said to do in this circumstances?
Can I ask whether is is currently likely that someone will ask you about these bad things you did in the past? If not, then you are certainly not lying, and the best course of action might be to acknowledge the unskillfulness of past actions (which you seem already to have done), resolve not to repeat them, and just get on with your life.

It might be that your uneasy conscience is the vipaka arising from that past dark kamma; and that it just stops there. If it helps, you might want to consider confessing your past actions to a neutral person who has no interest in your family. That might help you move on, and would avoid the further dark kamma of afflicting family members with the knowledge of what you have done.

Most important, I think, is to generate positive states in the present moment as a way of mitigating the effects of the kamma that you are feeling now, or might feel in the future:
"That disciple of the noble ones, headman — thus devoid of covetousness, devoid of ill will, unbewildered, alert, mindful — keeps pervading the first direction [the east] with an awareness imbued with good will, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth. Thus above, below, & all around, everywhere, in its entirety, he keeps pervading the all-encompassing cosmos with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, without hostility, without ill will. Just as a strong conch-trumpet blower can notify the four directions without any difficulty, in the same way, when the awareness-release through good will is thus developed, thus pursued, any deed done to a limited extent no longer remains there, no longer stays there.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

paul
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Re: Lying

Post by paul » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:52 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:38 pm
If it helps, you might want to consider confessing your past actions to a neutral person who has no interest in your family.
Since the OP specifically asks for Buddhist advice, it should be clarified that the above is not a Buddhist method. Kamma operates clinically in respect of individuals, and you should tell the truth. How others react is a matter of their own kamma.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Lying

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:17 am

paul wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:52 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:38 pm
If it helps, you might want to consider confessing your past actions to a neutral person who has no interest in your family.
Since the OP specifically asks for Buddhist advice, it should be clarified that the above is not a Buddhist method. Kamma operates clinically in respect of individuals, and you should tell the truth. How others react is a matter of their own kamma.
The Buddha listened to and approved of the confessions of lay people, so I'm happy to recommend confession if it eases the conscience of the person concerned.

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Dhammarakkhito
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Re: Lying

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:09 am

i wonder why people don't get the fact that you can actually say nothing. like, if someone asks you a question and you don't feel you can answer it honestly, don't answer it. kamma isn't like you are saying, just do bad one time and face consequences. it establishes a tendency to do bad and creates way more problems than it solves. it's not worth it
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

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Dhammarakkhito
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Re: Lying

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:12 am

"For the person who transgresses in one thing, I tell you, there is no evil deed that is not to be done. Which one thing? This: telling a deliberate lie."

The person who lies,
who transgress in this one thing,
transcending concern for the world beyond:
there's no evil
he might not do.

— Iti 25

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... ml#iti-025
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

DCM
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Re: Lying

Post by DCM » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:24 am

Hi Dhammarakkito, you often say you can say nothing, but if I was asked this question and refused to answer it would be clear that I had committed the action, as if I did not, then I would just say so.

Sam, I could easily be asked this question at any time, probably quite casually, and like I said if i answer truthfully it would break up my family.

Things aren't as easy as 'just say nothing'. If you were faced in my situation what would you do. Look at your family first, then tell me.

I accept my vipaka now, It just feels like I am lying already as I know I could not answer truthfully if asked in the future. Can I still practise as a Buddhist this being the case and say I'm keeping the 5 precepts?

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Sam Vara
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Re: Lying

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:24 am

DCM wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:24 am
Sam, I could easily be asked this question at any time, probably quite casually, and like I said if i answer truthfully it would break up my family.

Things aren't as easy as 'just say nothing'. If you were faced in my situation what would you do. Look at your family first, then tell me.

I accept my vipaka now, It just feels like I am lying already as I know I could not answer truthfully if asked in the future. Can I still practise as a Buddhist this being the case and say I'm keeping the 5 precepts?
This appears to be one of those questions where truthfulness is incompatible with another virtue or desirable state; along the lines of that hypothetical situation "If Anne Frank was hiding in your attic, and the Nazis came, etc.." Only you can decide what to do, given that only you know the nature of your actions and the likely effects of your truthfulness regarding them. Even if you break a precept you can still practice as a Buddhist; ones intentions are more important than what one has done in the past. But the more important point here is that you are not already lying. There is a clear difference between knowing the truth and misrepresenting it to another, and you appear not to have done the latter.

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Dhammarakkhito
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Re: Lying

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:19 am

you already made kamma doing what you said you did, so lying about it is just going to add more kamma. the kamma from the former action could come in the form of being rejected by your family. the result of kamma can never be not experienced
when one lies, deceives, they bring themself and others away from the truth, which is not conducive to liberation. it's a completely unwholesome act. if you want things to be easier, then don't add kamma to kamma by lying. i haven't experienced such an alarming situation, in which i felt i needed to lie, since taking the five precepts. could this be kamma too? in any case, the law is the same

may you develop the necessary wisdom to make the right decision
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

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binocular
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Re: Lying

Post by binocular » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:21 pm

DCM wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:24 am
Sam, I could easily be asked this question at any time, probably quite casually, and like I said if i answer truthfully it would break up my family.
If things are so bad that such serious consequences could ensue from telling the truth, then there's probably more going on, and your lying about it probably doesn't have as much helpful impact as it may now seem.

Chances are that sooner or later, the truth will become known, regardless whether you lie or not. This is not to say that your current lying doesn't help maintain the current status quo; just that it isn't as important as it seems.
Sam, I could easily be asked this question at any time, probably quite casually, and like I said if i answer truthfully it would break up my family.
One thing you can do is be proactive and take the first step to clear things up with your family. Don't wait until someone asks you about that grave matter about which you currently have the intention to lie. Instead, discuss it with your family, or those family members who will be affected by it. If it is about something you did, it's better that they find out about it from you, than from someone else. Then take steps to make amends.

DCM
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Re: Lying

Post by DCM » Sat Jan 13, 2018 8:03 am

Thankyou all for your advice. It's great that I'm able to ask these questions to fellow Buddhists. As I go further in my training i am finding it more difficult to lie as my belief in kamma-vipaka matures. I can't be sure of course, but there seems there may be some vipaka occurring now from what I did.

This is a difficult situation. At the moment I feel I am veering towards telling the truth if asked, I sense that if I resolve to tell the truth here, in potentially the most difficult circumstance of my life, I may possibly never intentionally tell a lie again, but if I don't then I will not be heading the right way.

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