Understanding the fourth precept

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
D1W1
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Mon Mar 14, 2016 6:20 am

1. A person pretends to ask direction in order to get to know someone.
I guess s/he isn't technically saying something false, but it is a bit deceptive. Why not just use a more genuine ice-breaker? Compliment someone's tie or shoes or ask if they saw the game last night or...

2. One pretends he or she has an appointment or has something to do in order to end an uncomfortable conversation with someone.
Why make up something specific instead of saying something general instead? "I'm sorry to cut you off, but I really have a lot of work I need to get back to, excuse me." That statement is always true for me, it doesn't hurt people's feelings, and I get on with my day.


3. Someone gives impression as if he is looking at something else when he is actually looking at somebody watch.
I can't imagine why I would do this. It doesn't have to do with Right Speech in any case. But it sounds devious and probably a bad idea.
4. Someone asks personal questions, as a reply we answer "I don't know".
I wouldn't do this, either. If I felt like answering, I would. If I didn't, I would decline and be frank about why. I think it's worth noting that we can be firm without violating the fourth precept.
I think it depends on the person we are talking to, if we know someone is going to be offended with our respond, we are trying not to offend them. Annoying questions or cultural differences can cause this and the answer such as "I don't know" can come up.

I think there are many reasons, some people have different character such as very straightforward character but other people are not very direct.
As for the first and second reply, complimenting someone when one doesn't want to complimenting or saying " I really have a lot of work " when one doesn't have a lot of work, IMO, is the same thing as lying.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Mon Mar 14, 2016 6:21 am

Tex wrote:The key to the precepts, and to kamma in general, is intention. Looking at the intentions in the examples above, I see "pretends" in #1, "pretends" in #2, "gives impression" in #3, and so on.
santa100 wrote: It's the meaning and spirit of the letters, not the letters themselves. The strictest monastic vinaya also has never really mentioned anything about "heroin" or "porn". That doesn't give the green light for monastics to use those things.
So "I don't know" can mean someone avoids to answer a question, uninterested about a particular topic, etc.. It's not the letter but the intention i.e. avoid to give an answer, etc.
Another person depressed because he doesn't have a job, he writes an experience which he doesn't have on his resume with the intention he will be hired. Does he have intention to lie?
Last edited by D1W1 on Mon Mar 14, 2016 6:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

D1W1
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Mon Mar 14, 2016 6:26 am

samseva wrote: Someone can say true facts but which will intentionally create a false understanding for the receiver. It's not lying, but it's deceit.
Can you give an example?

But in order to deceive or lie all four conditions must be met:

1. A falsehood
2. Intention to lie
3. The effort is made
4. Others deceived

In your example, all four conditions are not met.

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samseva
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by samseva » Mon Mar 14, 2016 3:10 pm

D1W1 wrote:
samseva wrote: Someone can say true facts but which will intentionally create a false understanding for the receiver. It's not lying, but it's deceit.
Can you give an example?

But in order to deceive or lie all four conditions must be met:

1. A falsehood
2. Intention to lie
3. The effort is made
4. Others deceived

In your example, all four conditions are not met.
Yes, but it's not lying, it is deceit.

For an example, someone could ask if you saw someone. You saw that person, but instead you say "I was gone for the past hour". This might be true, but it gives the impression that you didn't see the person, while in truth you did.

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DC2R
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by DC2R » Mon Mar 14, 2016 10:34 pm

The fourth precept also covers idle chatter, which DN 2 describes in detail. Although these are specifically for monks as stated in the sutta, is there any reason a lay person could not follow these guidelines?
Samaññaphala Sutta wrote:Whereas some brahmans and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, are addicted to talking about lowly topics such as these — talking about kings, robbers, ministers of state; armies, alarms, and battles; food and drink; clothing, furniture, garlands, and scents; relatives; vehicles; villages, towns, cities, the countryside; women and heroes; the gossip of the street and the well; tales of the dead; tales of diversity [philosophical discussions of the past and future], the creation of the world and of the sea, and talk of whether things exist or not — he abstains from talking about lowly topics such as these. This, too, is part of his virtue.
Another point to ponder...
Samaññaphala Sutta wrote:Whereas some brahmans and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, are addicted to debates such as these — 'You understand this doctrine and discipline? I'm the one who understands this doctrine and discipline. How could you understand this doctrine and discipline? You're practicing wrongly. I'm practicing rightly. I'm being consistent. You're not. What should be said first you said last. What should be said last you said first. What you took so long to think out has been refuted. Your doctrine has been overthrown. You're defeated. Go and try to salvage your doctrine; extricate yourself if you can!' — he abstains from debates such as these. This, too, is part of his virtue.
Is that why monks do not engage in these online forums often?
May the blessings of the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha always be firmly established in your hearts.

http://txti.es/theravada

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Tue Mar 15, 2016 10:17 am

D1W1 wrote:
Tex wrote:The key to the precepts, and to kamma in general, is intention. Looking at the intentions in the examples above, I see "pretends" in #1, "pretends" in #2, "gives impression" in #3, and so on.
santa100 wrote: It's the meaning and spirit of the letters, not the letters themselves. The strictest monastic vinaya also has never really mentioned anything about "heroin" or "porn". That doesn't give the green light for monastics to use those things.
So "I don't know" can mean someone avoids to answer a question, uninterested about a particular topic, etc.. It's not the letter but the intention i.e. avoid to give an answer, etc.
Another person depressed because he doesn't have a job, he writes an experience which he doesn't have on his resume with the intention he will be hired. Does he have intention to lie?
Anyone? I know this question sounds silly but I honestly don't see why s/he is lying. It's true he writes something false but his/her intention is to get hired.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Tue Mar 15, 2016 10:22 am

Is that why monks do not engage in these online forums often?[/quote]

I'm afraid there are many answers to this but discussion I believe is not forbidden. And there are terms such as teacher and kalyanamitta too.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by santa100 » Wed Mar 16, 2016 2:41 am

D1W1 wrote:Anyone? I know this question sounds silly but I honestly don't see why s/he is lying. It's true he writes something false but his/her intention is to get hired.
According to the meaning and spirit of letters, although the vinaya has never mentioned "heroin" or "porn", it's not acceptable for monastics to use them. Similarly, the 3rd precept has never mentioned about putting skillset one doesn't possess on his resume to get hired, but that doesn't mean it's ok for such practice. One might be able to get away in non-technical field, but if one's applying for jobs in STEM (science, tech, engineering, and math) fields, it's pretty easy to find out if s/he's lying by giving a few tech questions and problems to solve. And even if one isn't lying about a particular technical skill but just simply making up some experiences s/he never did, then it's also pretty easy nowadays for a company to conduct a background check to get the needed info. through his/her old companies, contacts, social media, etc. One should stick with what's legit. and try to acquire the necessary skillset first and then put it on one's resume to apply for jobs.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by Cormac Brown » Wed Mar 16, 2016 3:04 am

D1W1 wrote:Hi Venerable/ guys,

I'm kind of having a hard time understanding the meaning of the fourth precept. Is the fourth precept only about speech or more than that?

For example:

1. A person pretends to ask direction in order to get to know someone.
2. One pretends he or she has an appointment or has something to do in order to end an uncomfortable conversation with someone.
3. Someone gives impression as if he is looking at something else when he is actually looking at somebody watch.
4. Someone asks personal questions, as a reply we answer "I don't know".

I think these kind of actions are not unfamiliar to us. I think part of it is because, we, human have intelligence and creativity therefore we do this kind of thing. We need to have wisdom, precept is not a rigid moral rule. But do you consider above actions as normal/human nature or they are all lying, is it possible to not break this particular precept or keep this precept pure? Thanks all.
Just don't deceive anyone. At all.

4. Is the worst example - if you do know something, and you say you don't, that's outright lying.

If you don't want to answer something, ask a counter-question in return - e.g. "Why do you ask?"
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Wed Mar 23, 2016 5:52 am

santa100 wrote:
D1W1 wrote:Anyone? I know this question sounds silly but I honestly don't see why s/he is lying. It's true he writes something false but his/her intention is to get hired.
According to the meaning and spirit of letters, although the vinaya has never mentioned "heroin" or "porn", it's not acceptable for monastics to use them. Similarly, the 3rd precept has never mentioned about putting skillset one doesn't possess on his resume to get hired, but that doesn't mean it's ok for such practice. One might be able to get away in non-technical field, but if one's applying for jobs in STEM (science, tech, engineering, and math) fields, it's pretty easy to find out if s/he's lying by giving a few tech questions and problems to solve. And even if one isn't lying about a particular technical skill but just simply making up some experiences s/he never did, then it's also pretty easy nowadays for a company to conduct a background check to get the needed info. through his/her old companies, contacts, social media, etc. One should stick with what's legit. and try to acquire the necessary skillset first and then put it on one's resume to apply for jobs.
I'm not saying putting up false experience is right thing to do. I just say we can't "see" the intention behind that action, can we? When someone does that, his purpose is only to get a job. It's not like one says "I have one billion dollars in the bank when one doesn't have."

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by steve19800 » Wed Mar 23, 2016 5:58 am

How about a woman wearing make up or do plastic surgery. Is that considered lying?

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by Aloka » Wed Mar 23, 2016 12:21 pm

steve19800 wrote:How about a woman wearing make up or do plastic surgery. Is that considered lying?
The fourth precept is about speech, not about our appearance, othewise older men who dye their hair, use botox etc would be included too:

4. Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... asila.html

:anjali:

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by steve19800 » Wed Mar 23, 2016 1:58 pm

Aloka wrote:
steve19800 wrote:How about a woman wearing make up or do plastic surgery. Is that considered lying?
The fourth precept is about speech, not about our appearance, othewise older men who dye their hair, use botox etc would be included too:

4. Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech.



http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... asila.html

:anjali:
I believe it covers bodily action too because you don't need to speak in order to deceive someone. Women wearing make up if not to make others into believing something they are not then what? No offence intended.

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Aloka
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by Aloka » Wed Mar 23, 2016 2:15 pm

Women wearing make up if not to make others into believing something they are not then what? No offence intended.
Then why use women as an example ?... why not use men, since presumably you are a man yourself. Some men actually do use subtle make up - and city men both young and old, whatever their sexual orientation, often get their hair dyed or highlighted, get their chests waxed and so on.

Please lets not target women in a forum which has a predominantly male membership, it's not very encouraging.


:anjali:

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by Cormac Brown » Wed Mar 23, 2016 4:46 pm

steve19800 wrote:
Aloka wrote:
steve19800 wrote:How about a woman wearing make up or do plastic surgery. Is that considered lying?
The fourth precept is about speech, not about our appearance, othewise older men who dye their hair, use botox etc would be included too:

4. Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech.



http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... asila.html

:anjali:
I believe it covers bodily action too because you don't need to speak in order to deceive someone. Women wearing make up if not to make others into believing something they are not then what? No offence intended.
Quite simply, no it does not cover wearing makeup. That might come under the cosmetics part of the Eight Precepts, which I'd see as trying to counter the tendency to arouse sexual interest in others, but certainly not the precept against lying. The Buddha gives quite a precise explanation of it as saying you don't know something when you do know it, or saying you do know when you don't. False testimony, basically. Here's the description of how to adhere to the precept:
"And how is one made pure in four ways by verbal action? There is the case where a certain person, abandoning false speech, abstains from false speech. When he has been called to a town meeting, a group meeting, a gathering of his relatives, his guild, or of the royalty, if he is asked as a witness, 'Come & tell, good man, what you know': If he doesn't know, he says, 'I don't know.' If he does know, he says, 'I know.' If he hasn't seen, he says, 'I haven't seen.' If he has seen, he says, 'I have seen.' Thus he doesn't consciously tell a lie for his own sake, for the sake of another, or for the sake of any reward. Abandoning false speech, he abstains from false speech. He speaks the truth, holds to the truth, is firm, reliable, no deceiver of the world. Abandoning divisive speech he abstains from divisive speech. What he has heard here he does not tell there to break those people apart from these people here. What he has heard there he does not tell here to break these people apart from those people there. Thus reconciling those who have broken apart or cementing those who are united, he loves concord, delights in concord, enjoys concord, speaks things that create concord. Abandoning abusive speech, he abstains from abusive speech. He speaks words that are soothing to the ear, that are affectionate, that go to the heart, that are polite, appealing & pleasing to people at large. Abandoning idle chatter, he abstains from idle chatter. He speaks in season, speaks what is factual, what is in accordance with the goal, the Dhamma, & the Vinaya. He speaks words worth treasuring, seasonable, reasonable, circumscribed, connected with the goal. This is how one is made pure in four ways by verbal action.
You could wear eyeshadow and foundation while giving perfectly true testimony. You'd still be adhering to the fourth precept and you'd look good in the process. However, maybe if you wanted to take your sila to the next level, you'd apply some makeup remover and show your skin in all its unloveliness.
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

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samseva
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by samseva » Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:29 pm

steve19800 wrote:How about a woman wearing make up or do plastic surgery. Is that considered lying?
In a way, it is deceit, but everyone knows almost all women wear make-up, so it is kind of "fair game" you could say.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by steve19800 » Thu Mar 24, 2016 3:53 am

Cormac Brown wrote: Quite simply, no it does not cover wearing makeup. That might come under the cosmetics part of the Eight Precepts, which I'd see as trying to counter the tendency to arouse sexual interest in others, but certainly not the precept against lying. The Buddha gives quite a precise explanation of it as saying you don't know something when you do know it, or saying you do know when you don't. False testimony, basically. Here's the description of how to adhere to the precept:
"And how is one made pure in four ways by verbal action? There is the case where a certain person, abandoning false speech, abstains from false speech. When he has been called to a town meeting, a group meeting, a gathering of his relatives, his guild, or of the royalty, if he is asked as a witness, 'Come & tell, good man, what you know': If he doesn't know, he says, 'I don't know.' If he does know, he says, 'I know.' If he hasn't seen, he says, 'I haven't seen.' If he has seen, he says, 'I have seen.' Thus he doesn't consciously tell a lie for his own sake, for the sake of another, or for the sake of any reward. Abandoning false speech, he abstains from false speech. He speaks the truth, holds to the truth, is firm, reliable, no deceiver of the world. Abandoning divisive speech he abstains from divisive speech. What he has heard here he does not tell there to break those people apart from these people here. What he has heard there he does not tell here to break these people apart from those people there. Thus reconciling those who have broken apart or cementing those who are united, he loves concord, delights in concord, enjoys concord, speaks things that create concord. Abandoning abusive speech, he abstains from abusive speech. He speaks words that are soothing to the ear, that are affectionate, that go to the heart, that are polite, appealing & pleasing to people at large. Abandoning idle chatter, he abstains from idle chatter. He speaks in season, speaks what is factual, what is in accordance with the goal, the Dhamma, & the Vinaya. He speaks words worth treasuring, seasonable, reasonable, circumscribed, connected with the goal. This is how one is made pure in four ways by verbal action.
I think someone has said previously that we are supposed to follow the spirit of the precept not the word. If for example, you don't have a dollar in your pocket but when asked do you have a dollar in your pocket and you nod, although we don't say anything but why is that not considered lying?

You could wear eyeshadow and foundation while giving perfectly true testimony. You'd still be adhering to the fourth precept and you'd look good in the process. However, maybe if you wanted to take your sila to the next level, you'd apply some makeup remover and show your skin in all its unloveliness.
But the person who does the make up wants to show something that she doesn't have, that is, misrepresenting something untrue, right?
When someone does a plastic surgery, she or he wants the result to be as natural as possible and one doesn't always make announcement that she has done the surgery, why is this not considered lying?

And it goes on and on ... writing fictional book, acting job e.g. actor, etc.
Last edited by steve19800 on Thu Mar 24, 2016 4:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by steve19800 » Thu Mar 24, 2016 3:57 am

samseva wrote:
steve19800 wrote:How about a woman wearing make up or do plastic surgery. Is that considered lying?
In a way, it is deceit, but everyone knows almost all women wear make-up, so it is kind of "fair game" you could say.
I think whether other people know women wear make up or not is not relevant because the doer is not "other people" but the women themselves, right?

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by samseva » Thu Mar 24, 2016 4:08 am

steve19800 wrote:
samseva wrote:In a way, it is deceit, but everyone knows almost all women wear make-up, so it is kind of "fair game" you could say.
I think whether other people know women wear make up or not is not relevant because the doer is not "other people" but the women themselves, right?
Well, the intention to deceive of a women who wears make-up could be as intense as if no one knew that most women wear make-up (except women themselves in this case), but since it is widely known that most women do wear make-up—both to the general population and the woman herself—this does have an affect on her intention.

Nowadays, it is socially accepted and even assumed that women wear make-up, so it isn't deceit as it is usually thought of. Maybe 10% though.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by steve19800 » Thu Mar 24, 2016 4:31 am

samseva wrote:
steve19800 wrote:
samseva wrote:In a way, it is deceit, but everyone knows almost all women wear make-up, so it is kind of "fair game" you could say.
I think whether other people know women wear make up or not is not relevant because the doer is not "other people" but the women themselves, right?
Well, the intention to deceive of a women who wears make-up could be as intense as if no one knew that most women wear make-up (except women themselves in this case), but since it is widely known that most women do wear make-up—both to the general population and the woman herself—this does have an affect on her intention.

Nowadays, it is socially accepted and even assumed that women wear make-up, so it isn't deceit as it is usually thought of. Maybe 10% though.
There is no doubt it is socially accepted.
I'm wondering what do you think the intention(s) of a woman has when she is doing make up?
How about acting job, plastic surgery as posted before?

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