Understanding the fourth precept

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

Post by samseva » Thu Mar 24, 2016 5:06 am

steve19800 wrote:
samseva wrote: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?
Well, what I meant with the first part is that with the fact that the woman knows that everyone expects that she probably wears make-up, her intention is much less deceitful...

...than if no one were to expect women to wear make up.

To illustrate, the latter would be 100% deceitful, while the former might be still/just 10% deceitful.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Thu Mar 24, 2016 11:49 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.
So intention to deceive other people through bodily action is not considered lying?
Thanks for your link. I do see what the Buddha says mostly, if not, all is lying through speech. I'm not sure whether lying through bodily action is considered lying or not, since no Sutta mentions about this.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Fri Mar 25, 2016 1:16 pm

In the commentary, it's said in order to lie four conditions must be met:

1. An untrue statement
2. Intention to lie
3. Effort is made
4. Others deceived

Edit: 4. Others understand what was said not Others deceived.

But I read somewhere Thanissaro Bhikkhu says whether someone is deceived or not is irrelevant, it's not in the original Vinaya.
I think it's understandable even if someone is not deceived, the intention to lie is there. It depends on the doer not the perceiver, so I think one doesn't need to fulfil all the requirements. But at the same time it's not quite relevant either, if a being is not dead (no 4. requirement), how can we say someone killed him/her?

To make it more complex, Buddha advice to Rahula is:

tasmātiha te, rāhula, ‘hassāpi na musā bhaṇissāmī’ti: evañhi te, rāhula, sikkhitabbaṃ.

Ñāṇamoli:
“Therefore, Rāhula, you should train thus: ‘I will not utter a falsehood even as a joke.’”

I.B. Horner:
“Wherefore, for you, Rāhula, ‘I will not speak a lie, even for fun’ – this is how you must train yourself, Rāhula.”

The scope of hassā musā is somewhat narrower than its usual English translations might seem to suggest. It would include such acts as falsely telling someone that she has a bug crawling in her hair or knowingly sending someone on a fruitless errand. It wouldn’t include telling jokes in the sense of funny fictional anecdotes with a punchline, whose fictional character is implicitly understood by speaker and audience.
(http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... ka#p326713" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;)

Rahula was a monastic member, I believe, then he should naturally followed the original Vinaya i.e. understanding of lie is irrelevant as opposed to followed commentary. Do you think all requirements have to be fulfilled in order to break a precept or not?
Last edited by D1W1 on Sat Mar 26, 2016 6:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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samseva
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by samseva » Fri Mar 25, 2016 1:49 pm

D1W1 wrote:So intention to deceive other people through bodily action is not considered lying?
Thanks for your link. I do see what the Buddha says mostly, if not, all is lying through speech. I'm not sure whether lying through bodily action is considered lying or not, since no Sutta mentions about this.
It mostly has to do with terminology. One can lie through speaking, writing or nodding the head to indicate "yes" or "no". Doing something through bodily action might not be considered lying per se, but it is deceit.

Either way, all are unwholesome. Deceit, which would cause many people to die for example, would be much worse and kammically detrimental than saying a direct but small lie. It isn't so much as following the precepts as the degree of kamma made, be it deceit or lying.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by samseva » Fri Mar 25, 2016 2:00 pm

D1W1 wrote:In the commentary, it's said in order to lie four conditions must be met:

1. An untrue statement
2. Intention to lie
3. Effort is made
4. Others deceived

But I read somewhere Thanissaro Bhikkhu says whether someone is deceived or not is irrelevant, it's not in the original Vinaya.
I think it's understandable even if someone is not deceived, the intention to lie is there. It depends on the doer not the perceiver, so I think one doesn't need to fulfil all the requirements. But at the same time it's not quite relevant either, if a being is not dead (no 4. requirement), how can we say someone killed him/her?
There is a large difference between what is a breach in the Vinaya and the results from the kamma (actions) one has done. In many rules in the Vinaya, for there to be the offence, a number of factors need to have been done, but, that does not mean the actions done don't have detrimental kamma.

Taking pārājika 3 regarding the killing of another human being, all five factors must be present: Object, Intention, Perception, Effort and Result. If one tries to kill another human being, but the other person does not die from the action, there is missing the fifth factor of the life-faculty of the person needing to be cut off, therefore the pārājika wasn't incurred (but there are other penalties).

However, even if the quite evil person hasn't incurred a pārājika, his deliberate actions of mind to intend and then put forth physical action to murder another human being have very grave kammic repercussions.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by Cormac Brown » Fri Mar 25, 2016 9:09 pm

D1W1 wrote:
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.
So intention to deceive other people through bodily action is not considered lying?
Thanks for your link. I do see what the Buddha says mostly, if not, all is lying through speech. I'm not sure whether lying through bodily action is considered lying or not, since no Sutta mentions about this.
Deceit cannot be recommended, but the fourth precept is very clear in covering only verbal action.
“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 Cormac Brown » Fri Mar 25, 2016 9:55 pm

steve19800 wrote:
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.
Wearing make-up is no more deceptive than having a shower. Our bodies don't naturally smell in any way pleasant. Thus washing is a social nicety, and relieves us from having to smell our own foul stench. Some people might wear makeup in the same way, because they find their natural appearance disgusting and don't want to impose that upon others.

I can't see that there would be any very skilful intention underlying the wearing of makeup. The Buddha bemoaned the fact that his ordained cousin, Nanda, continued to wear makeup as a monk. Nevertheless, it isn't a breach of the fourth precept, only of the seventh of the eight precepts.

Having plastic surgery is not a breach of the fourth precept, either. Nor is refusing to "announce" it. The fourth precept doesn't mean you have to announce everything you do to everyone. Do you make a habit of declaring to all and sundry when you have a bath?

The key to the precepts is harmlessness. It's grossly harmful to others to tell lies about one person to another, which is what the fourth is concerned with. By doing so, many people's lives have been destroyed, reputations unjustly torn to shreds. It's even more harmful to oneself: as the Buddha says it leads to rebirth in hell.

The same cannot be said for wearing makeup. Makeup is usually worn to make oneself appear more attractive, the desire for which comes from sensual craving, a fetter which is only discarded at the penultimate stage of awakening. It's perfectly possible that a stream-enterer, still strongly affected by sensual desire yet incapable of breaching the five precepts, would wear makeup to make themselves look more attractive to the opposite sex.

Acting involves saying things that aren't true, but the context isn't the same as that given in the Buddha's description of what counts as lying (see previous post), therefore it doesn't count as a breach. Nevertheless, it's not a recommended career choice. Fiction writing, the same. Not great but not lying per se.
“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 » Fri Mar 25, 2016 11:32 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:Wearing make-up is no more deceptive than having a shower.
Wearing makeup is different from taking a shower. Taking a shower is removing filth from one's body. The purpose of makeup however, is to deceive and cover up (although wearing make-up is widely accepted and expected) others into believing someone is such and such a way. It is putting a cloak of powders and various products to give the impression of beauty.

I'm not saying it's bad; it's just that technically speaking, it is deception—although widely accepted and even expected (which drastically reduces it's negative kamma).

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by dagon » Sat Mar 26, 2016 12:04 am

Thank you to those who have pointed out that in most, if not, all cases wearing makeup is not a breach of the 4th precept.

What has been missed in the conversation includes the fact that many women at work are expected to apply makeup as part of the corporate "uniform". In such cases the conversation belongs in the context of what the teachings are in the employer / employee relationship. My friend who I was talking to at her work in a department store is supplied with a counter so that she can apply make up hourly - per company directives. If there is any deceiving occurring it is that of the employer (who is male) not the females.

:focus:

Please

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Sat Mar 26, 2016 6:53 am

steve19800 wrote:
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.
Cormac Brown wrote: Having plastic surgery is not a breach of the fourth precept, either. Nor is refusing to "announce" it. The fourth precept doesn't mean you have to announce everything you do to everyone. Do you make a habit of declaring to all and sundry when you have a bath?
Cormac Brown wrote: Makeup is usually worn to make oneself appear more attractive, the desire for which comes from sensual craving, a fetter which is only discarded at the penultimate stage of awakening.
But the person who does plastic surgery knows his/her lips are false yet she shows them to other people as if they are real, right?
Cormac Brown wrote: The key to the precepts is harmlessness. It's grossly harmful to others to tell lies about one person to another, which is what the fourth is concerned with. By doing so, many people's lives have been destroyed, reputations unjustly torn to shreds. It's even more harmful to oneself: as the Buddha says it leads to rebirth in hell.
As posted above, four conditions need to be met in order to break fourth precept. Others understand what was said is the last condition. If there is someone, for example experiences accident, the result is that person is unable to talk, no one knows whether s/he can understand words or not. If someone says something false to that person, is that considered lying or not?

Does anyone know if all conditions need to be met are only written in the commentary or in the original Vinaya/ Precepts?
Cormac Brown wrote: Nevertheless, it's not a recommended career choice. Fiction writing, the same. Not great but not lying per se.
Can you provide a reference if they are not recommended for career choice?

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Sat Mar 26, 2016 7:00 am

samseva wrote:
Taking pārājika 3 regarding the killing of another human being, all five factors must be present: Object, Intention, Perception, Effort and Result. If one tries to kill another human being, but the other person does not die from the action, there is missing the fifth factor of the life-faculty of the person needing to be cut off, therefore the pārājika wasn't incurred (but there are other penalties).
Do you know if the factors needed to break a precept are written in the commentary only or original Vinaya? Any reference would be great.
samseva wrote: However, even if the quite evil person hasn't incurred a pārājika, his deliberate actions of mind to intend and then put forth physical action to murder another human being have very grave kammic repercussions.
But I assume the kammic consequences of killing from this action is incomplete?

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Sat Mar 26, 2016 7:01 am

dagon wrote:Thank you to those who have pointed out that in most, if not, all cases wearing makeup is not a breach of the 4th precept.

What has been missed in the conversation includes the fact that many women at work are expected to apply makeup as part of the corporate "uniform". In such cases the conversation belongs in the context of what the teachings are in the employer / employee relationship. My friend who I was talking to at her work in a department store is supplied with a counter so that she can apply make up hourly - per company directives. If there is any deceiving occurring it is that of the employer (who is male) not the females.

:focus:

Please

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Thanks for your reply :anjali:

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by clw_uk » Sat Mar 26, 2016 11:46 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.

It seems that we could also include acting as a breach. Perhaps that's why the suttas don't portray actors in a good light?

Personally I think classing all forms of lying as being immoral is an extreme and unnecessary position to take, a long with viewing plastic surgery and the use of makeup as being a breach of the fourth precept.

For example I don't think it's immoral to lie if it saves another persons life.
Last edited by clw_uk on Sat Mar 26, 2016 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by clw_uk » Sat Mar 26, 2016 11:49 am

Aloka wrote:
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:

I'm quite partial to some eyeliner and mascara on special occasions :smile:
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Sat Mar 26, 2016 11:49 am

santa100 wrote: Technically speaking, asking a question is not the same thing as telling a lie. Although it's not breaking the 4th precept, there's still the intent to "pretend" which is unwholesome.
Do you think the intent to "pretend" such as described above would be able to drag someone into lower realms?
We surely want to avoid heavy unwholesome kamma but "pretend" sounds like doesn't have serious consequences. But looking at the working of kamma (only Buddha knows), how can we not be afraid that "pretend" is not going to drag us to lower realms?

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by Aloka » Sat Mar 26, 2016 12:15 pm

clw_uk wrote:
I'm quite partial to some eyeliner and mascara on special occasions :smile:
Hi Craig,


Actually, my first long-term boyfriend wore eye make-up and looked a lot prettier than me!


:)

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by samseva » Sat Mar 26, 2016 7:04 pm

D1W1 wrote:
samseva wrote:
Taking pārājika 3 regarding the killing of another human being, all five factors must be present: Object, Intention, Perception, Effort and Result. If one tries to kill another human being, but the other person does not die from the action, there is missing the fifth factor of the life-faculty of the person needing to be cut off, therefore the pārājika wasn't incurred (but there are other penalties).
Do you know if the factors needed to break a precept are written in the commentary only or original Vinaya? Any reference would be great.
What I described is from the Buddhist Monastic Code I. If it applies for a monk, it is applicable for a layman as well—in the sense that if attempting to kill someone but not succeeding does not entail a pārājika, then it would be safe to say it doesn't break the precept as well. Although not quite in line with it and the very serious intentions and actions do have their own kamma regardless of the absence of the breach of the precept.
D1W1 wrote:
samseva wrote:However, even if the quite evil person hasn't incurred a pārājika, his deliberate actions of mind to intend and then put forth physical action to murder another human being have very grave kammic repercussions.
But I assume the kammic consequences of killing from this action is incomplete?
If the other person would have died, the kammic consequences would have been much more grave. However, there were a multitude of kamma (actions) before the actual event of attempting to kill the other person. Therefore, all the other kamma (actions), including the bodily action of attempting to kill, each have their own kammic consequences. If one is intent on killing someone and actually goes through with it, regardless if he or she succeeds or not, his or her mind is strongly defiled and the actions committed, by body and mind, still have serious kammic consequences.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by Cormac Brown » Sat Mar 26, 2016 7:10 pm

D1W1 wrote:
But the person who does plastic surgery knows his/her lips are false yet she shows them to other people as if they are real, right?
If they tell people they're real, they are lying. What if they openly told anyone who asks, that they've had surgery on them to make them look better? Are they still deceitful? I'd argue not. Similarly with people who wear makeup. I don't think I've ever met any woman wearing makeup who would deny the fact when asked. Thus they're not lying.

Even if they were to lie in this way, it wouldn't necessarily fit the Buddha's stock definition of false speech:
AN 10.176 PTS: A v 263
Cunda Kammaraputta Sutta: To Cunda the Silversmith
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

"There is the case where a certain person engages in 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 [i.e., a royal court proceeding], if he is asked as a witness, 'Come & tell, good man, what you know': If he doesn't know, he says, 'I know.' If he does know, he says, 'I don't know.' If he hasn't seen, he says, 'I have seen.' If he has seen, he says, 'I haven't seen.' Thus he consciously tells lies for his own sake, for the sake of another, or for the sake of a certain reward."
As posted above, four conditions need to be met in order to break fourth precept. Others understand what was said is the last condition. If there is someone, for example experiences accident, the result is that person is unable to talk, no one knows whether s/he can understand words or not. If someone says something false to that person, is that considered lying or not?

Does anyone know if all conditions need to be met are only written in the commentary or in the original Vinaya/ Precepts?
As above, the Buddha doesn't give this definition for the fourth precept. The only definition in the suttas of false speech that I'm aware of is the one I've already quoted. Therefore, they'd have to be lying to an assembly of people, so the disabled person wouldn't be the only witness.

The other aspects of verbal misconduct, detailed in the link above, seem to me to be much more kammically important and relevant to this thread than wearing makeup etc., which is clearly covered under the seventh precept in the attha-sila.

These are divisive speech, abusive speech, and idle chatter.
D1W1 wrote:
Cormac Brown wrote: Nevertheless, it's not a recommended career choice. Fiction writing, the same. Not great but not lying per se.
Can you provide a reference if they are not recommended for career choice?
I could, but the Buddha twice refused to answer the actor who asked him about the destination in the future life of those in his profession. Let's just say that I was on course for a career as an actor and I put a stop to it.

I'm only guessing that something similar applies to fiction writing.
“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 samseva » Sat Mar 26, 2016 7:12 pm

Regarding acting and lying/deceit, things aren't too great.
Thus the actor — himself intoxicated & heedless, having made others intoxicated & heedless — with the breakup of the body, after death, is reborn in what is called the hell of laughter. But if he holds such a view as this: 'When an actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of the laughing devas,' that is his wrong view. Now, there are two destinations for a person with wrong view, I tell you: either hell or the animal womb.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by samseva » Sat Mar 26, 2016 7:20 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:If they tell people they're real, they are lying. What if they openly told anyone who asks, that they've had surgery on them to make them look better? Are they still deceitful? I'd argue not. Similarly with people who wear makeup. I don't think I've ever met any woman wearing makeup who would deny the fact when asked. Thus they're not lying.
Lying and deceit are two different things.

With the whole makeup and plastic surgery thing, I don't think it is that much of an issue. Even though it probably isn't wholesome, it surely only is unwholesome to a small degree. For one, makeup is openly accepted and even expected. For two, it also comes down to the intention. Some girls might be very motivated with deceiving others that she is naturally beautiful and perfect, while others are just putting on makeup because that is what most girls do and it is socially accepted (and even expected). It also doesn't break the precept regarding lying since it is not speech.

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