Understanding the fourth precept

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

Post by Cormac Brown » Sat Mar 26, 2016 8:29 pm

clw_uk wrote:
For example I don't think it's immoral to lie if it saves another persons life.
Whether or not it's "immoral" by Western/Hollywood standards isn't all that pertinent. The question is, do you still end up suffering negative kammic consequences as a result? Kamma isn't a respecter of our preferences - it's an implacable law of cause and effect, action and consequence. When lying is the action, the consequence is never good. It's also worth bearing in mind that the Buddha reserved his strongest criticism for liars: Namely, that if one feels no shame in telling a lie, there's no evil you won't do. If you're saying you wouldn't feel any shame in telling a lie if it saved another's life, this would seem to place you in the Buddha's category of being a moral liability.
“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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Aloka
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by Aloka » Sat Mar 26, 2016 8:57 pm

There's already an existing eight page topic "When is it ok to lie?":

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=25436


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clw_uk
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by clw_uk » Sat Mar 26, 2016 9:16 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
For example I don't think it's immoral to lie if it saves another persons life.
Whether or not it's "immoral" by Western/Hollywood standards isn't all that pertinent. The question is, do you still end up suffering negative kammic consequences as a result? Kamma isn't a respecter of our preferences - it's an implacable law of cause and effect, action and consequence. When lying is the action, the consequence is never good. It's also worth bearing in mind that the Buddha reserved his strongest criticism for liars: Namely, that if one feels no shame in telling a lie, there's no evil you won't do. If you're saying you wouldn't feel any shame in telling a lie if it saved another's life, this would seem to place you in the Buddha's category of being a moral liability.
Even if lying did lead to negative kamma-vipaka, you still haven't made a moral argument as to why someone shouldn't lie, unless you subscribe to selfish egoism?

If kamma-vipaka is real in the way you describe, then it's just a fact of nature. Therefore you cannot get an ought from an is. Furthermore, if you tell the truth just to save your own kammic skin, even if an innocent persons dies as a result, it seems to me you are acting rather selfishly.

At best your argument subscribes to egoism, at worst it falls to the naturalistic fallacy.
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Aloka
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by Aloka » Sat Mar 26, 2016 9:59 pm

clw_uk wrote:For example I don't think it's immoral to lie if it saves another persons life.
and neither does Ven S. Dhammika in the section on the five precepts in his pdf booklet "Good Question, Good Answer".

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/gqga-5ed.pdf

He says that in certain circumstances "The intention to save a life is many times more positive than telling a lie."


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Last edited by Aloka on Sat Mar 26, 2016 10:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Cormac Brown
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by Cormac Brown » Sat Mar 26, 2016 10:00 pm

clw_uk wrote:
Cormac Brown wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
For example I don't think it's immoral to lie if it saves another persons life.
Whether or not it's "immoral" by Western/Hollywood standards isn't all that pertinent. The question is, do you still end up suffering negative kammic consequences as a result? Kamma isn't a respecter of our preferences - it's an implacable law of cause and effect, action and consequence. When lying is the action, the consequence is never good. It's also worth bearing in mind that the Buddha reserved his strongest criticism for liars: Namely, that if one feels no shame in telling a lie, there's no evil you won't do. If you're saying you wouldn't feel any shame in telling a lie if it saved another's life, this would seem to place you in the Buddha's category of being a moral liability.
Even if lying did lead to negative kamma-vipaka, you still haven't made a moral argument as to why someone shouldn't lie, unless you subscribe to selfish egoism?

If kamma-vipaka is real in the way you describe, then it's just a fact of nature. Therefore you cannot get an ought from an is. Furthermore, if you tell the truth just to save your own kammic skin, even if an innocent persons dies as a result, it seems to me you are acting rather selfishly.

At best your argument subscribes to egoism, at worst it falls to the naturalistic fallacy.
Up to you what you do. Lying goes right against the Dhamma. If you want to play hero, that's your choice. Your kamma's your own, not anyone else's. That person's going to die anyway.
“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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Aloka
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by Aloka » Sat Mar 26, 2016 10:05 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:Lying goes right against the Dhamma.
There are circumstances when it doesn't, Cormac. Check my previous post and also the section on the 5 precepts in the booklet I've referenced.


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Last edited by Aloka on Sat Mar 26, 2016 10:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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clw_uk
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by clw_uk » Sat Mar 26, 2016 10:08 pm


Up to you what you do. Lying goes right against the Dhamma. If you want to play hero, that's your choice. Your kamma's your own, not anyone else's. That person's going to die anyway.

The Dhamma merely describes reality. It doesn't provide us with a morality. If you wish to be selfish, caring only about your own speculative post mortem existence then that's up to you. Personally I'm not willing to sacrifice innocent lives for my own benefit, if I'm ever in that position. You obviously are, congratulations.

That person's going to die anyway.
That sounds like fatalism to me, which the Buddha detested. Once again, congratulations.
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clw_uk
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by clw_uk » Sat Mar 26, 2016 10:15 pm

Aloka wrote:
clw_uk wrote:For example I don't think it's immoral to lie if it saves another persons life.
and neither does Ven S. Dhammika in the section on the five precepts in his pdf booklet "Good Question, Good Answer".

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/gqga-5ed.pdf

He says that in certain circumstances "The intention to save a life is many times more positive than telling a lie."


:anjali:

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samseva
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by samseva » Sat Mar 26, 2016 10:17 pm

This is the "When is it ok to lie?" thread combined with ad hominems all over again.

It is ruining the thread.

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lyndon taylor
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by lyndon taylor » Sun Mar 27, 2016 5:56 am

I don't think there is anyone on this forum that has actually saved a life by telling a lie, so the argument is not particularly useful, is it???
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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clw_uk
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by clw_uk » Sun Mar 27, 2016 6:10 am

lyndon taylor wrote:I don't think there is anyone on this forum that has actually saved a life by telling a lie, so the argument is not particularly useful, is it???
Ignoring the fact that you don't know that, the morality of such a situation is an important question to ask should we be faced with such circumstances in the future.

I'm sure there were lots of times where lies saved Jews, gypsies, Slavs and homosexuals from the Nazi death camps.

One view says that such lies are moral, the other says that such lies were immoral. One of the positions is rational, the other is absurd. This is of course for you to decide but I know where I stand, namely that of lying to save lives (if I have to).
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lyndon taylor
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by lyndon taylor » Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:17 am

Its kind of like someone that prepares to win the lottery jackpot, just because it is possible, possible but not very likely......
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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clw_uk
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by clw_uk » Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:20 am

lyndon taylor wrote:Its kind of like someone that prepares to win the lottery jackpot, just because it is possible, possible but not very likely......
How do you know that it isn't likely?
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lyndon taylor
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by lyndon taylor » Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:55 am

See, that's exactly the kind of logic I'm talking about. If I say you are not going to win the lottery, I'll be right 9,999,999 times out of 10,000,000. That makes it a pretty factual statement IMHO.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Sun Mar 27, 2016 10:08 am

samseva wrote: 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.
Regarding BMC I. On Pg. 245:
The K/Commentary, summarizing the long “wheels” in the Vibhaºga, states that a violation of this rule requires two factors:
1) Intention: the aim to misrepresent the truth; and
2) Effort: the effort to make another individual know whatever one wants to
communicate based on that aim.
But on Pg.246 on third paragraph it says:
Result is not a factor under this rule. Thus whether anyone understands the
lie or is deceived by it is irrelevant to the offense.
Do Effort (No.2) and Pg.246 statement not contradict each other?

samseva wrote: 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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