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 » Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:46 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:
The Buddha said that a noble disciple wouldn't transgress the precepts even for the sake of their own life, never mind another's:
Uposatha Sutta trans. Ven Thanissaro

And furthermore, just as the ocean is stable and does not overstep its tideline; in the same way my disciples do not — even for the sake of their lives — overstep the training rules I have formulated for them
“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 » Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:52 pm

D1W1 wrote:
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?
Effort and Result are two different factors. Effort is putting forth action that would be considered lying; Result would be the person believing the lie (or any other possibility).

So, from this, no matter what happens after the effort is made (unless something grave happens due to the lie, or you said something specific, which could both fall under other rules), be it that the person believes you or not—or even hears you speak at all—is not a factor in determining the offense.

However, this has to do with the Vinaya. Morally speaking, telling a lie without the person hearing you at all would still be unwholesome; the person believing you and doing something because of this information would, I think, have bigger kammic implications.

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Aloka
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by Aloka » Sun Mar 27, 2016 1:26 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:
The Buddha said that a noble disciple wouldn't transgress the precepts even for the sake of their own life, never mind another's:

Uposatha Sutta trans. Ven Thanissaro

And furthermore, just as the ocean is stable and does not overstep its tideline; in the same way my disciples do not — even for the sake of their lives — overstep the training rules I have formulated for them
It doesn't say anything about not lying to save someone else's life.


I remember once reading somewhere that Bhikkhu Bodhi had said that people in Germany lying to save Jews from being murdered by the Nazis wouldn't be transgressing the lying precept. Its common sense really. Who would be monstrous enough to tell a crazy murderer with a knife or a gun that his innocent victim was hiding in the cupboard, instead of saying they didn't know?

I don't think I've anything further I want to say here, so please don't address any more posts to me.

:anjali:

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samseva
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by samseva » Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:16 pm

Aloka wrote:It doesn't say anything about not lying to save someone else's life.


I remember once reading somewhere that Bhikkhu Bodhi had said that people in Germany lying to save Jews from being murdered by the Nazis wouldn't be transgressing the lying precept. Its common sense really. Who would be monstrous enough to tell a crazy murderer with a knife or a gun that his innocent victim was hiding in the cupboard, instead of saying they didn't know?

I don't think I've anything further I want to say here, so please don't address any more posts to me.
It is against the precept, but saying the truth and letting someone or many people be killed is a thousand times worse.

Would you have the text Bhikkhu Bodhi mentions that lying in this case wouldn't be breaking the precept?

I think you only told Cormac not to address any more posts to you. :smile:

Cormac Brown
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by Cormac Brown » Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:17 pm

Aloka wrote:
Cormac Brown wrote:
The Buddha said that a noble disciple wouldn't transgress the precepts even for the sake of their own life, never mind another's:

Uposatha Sutta trans. Ven Thanissaro

And furthermore, just as the ocean is stable and does not overstep its tideline; in the same way my disciples do not — even for the sake of their lives — overstep the training rules I have formulated for them
It doesn't say anything about not lying to save someone else's life.


I remember once reading somewhere that Bhikkhu Bodhi had said that people in Germany lying to save Jews from being murdered by the Nazis wouldn't be transgressing the lying precept. Its common sense really. Who would be monstrous enough to tell a crazy murderer with a knife or a gun that his innocent victim was hiding in the cupboard, instead of saying they didn't know?

I don't think I've anything further I want to say here, so please don't address any more posts to me.

:anjali:
Please, feel free not to say anything more. However, I will address this to you. You make the common mistake that the only options in such a case are a) lying and b) telling the truth. You could refuse to talk, or change the subject, or tell them you don't want to answer them. You wouldn't have to lie.
“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 » Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:21 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:Please, feel free not to say anything more. However, I will address this to you. You make the common mistake that the only options in such a case are a) lying and b) telling the truth. You could refuse to talk, or change the subject, or tell them you don't want to answer them. You wouldn't have to lie.
Although it is true that there is almost never only one option, doing all those things you mentioned would probably and easily be interpreted, in the case of a German hiding Jews from Nazis, as you hiding away Jews and result in them, as well as yourself being killed.

Cormac Brown
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by Cormac Brown » Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:49 pm

samseva wrote:
Cormac Brown wrote:Please, feel free not to say anything more. However, I will address this to you. You make the common mistake that the only options in such a case are a) lying and b) telling the truth. You could refuse to talk, or change the subject, or tell them you don't want to answer them. You wouldn't have to lie.
Although it is true that there is almost never only one option, doing all those things you mentioned would probably and easily be interpreted, in the case of a German hiding Jews from Nazis, as you hiding away Jews and result in them, as well as yourself being killed.
As the Buddha says, loss of life isn't something to be feared. We've lost lives countless times before. He says the loss of others' lives isn't to be feared, either. What he says is to be feared is losing your virtue (AN 5.130), which you and other misguided people seem to be advocating. In advocating this, ironically, very bad kamma is being made - if others are stupid enough to read and believe yours, aloka's and clw_uk's posts, you're playing a part in their going to hell, as well as setting yourself on a bad course. You should stop.

It's quite simple. A stream-enterer wouldn't lie, no matter what.
“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 » Sun Mar 27, 2016 4:17 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:As the Buddha says, loss of life isn't something to be feared. We've lost lives countless times before. He says the loss of others' lives isn't to be feared, either. What he says is to be feared is losing your virtue (AN 5.130), which you and other misguided people seem to be advocating. In advocating this, ironically, very bad kamma is being made - if others are stupid enough to read and believe yours, aloka's and clw_uk's posts, you're playing a part in their going to hell, as well as setting yourself on a bad course. You should stop.

It's quite simple. A stream-enterer wouldn't lie, no matter what.
Did you read the When is it ok to lie? thread?

I think you are taking it a little too far, Cormac, especially saying we are playing a part in people going to hell (for one, you know nothing of such kammic results, blatantly pulling this out of nowhere, and for two, this is far from the case). Furthermore, the fear of committing but a small lie to prevent one or even a thousand people from dying, for the sake of having pure morality is probably rooted in large part in selfishness rather than wisdom.

The fact that a Stream-Enterer wouldn't lie is true, but it is due to the fact that for a Stream-Enterer to lie is impossible. To invert the premises to claim that because a Stream-Enterer couldn't/wouldn't lie, that no one should lie, no matter the cost (and only to say such a thing would even result in playing a part in people going to hell) is an error in basic logic.

Cormac, I am sure it is fact that you broke the precept of lying many times. Maybe even today. Yet you claim you would tell the truth (or try to change the subject, say you don't want to answer and so on) to a Nazi soldier, even if that would directly cause the death of a number of people.

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bodom
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by bodom » Sun Mar 27, 2016 5:10 pm

Though dealing with the second precept the following from the vinaya may be of interest:
At one time a certain monk out of compassion released a pig trapped in a snare. He became anxious …

“What was your intention, monk?”

“I was motivated by compassion, Master.”

“There is no offence for one who is motivated by compassion.”
At one time a certain monk out of compassion released a deer trapped in a snare. … “There is no offence for one who is motivated by compassion.” … out of compassion released fish trapped in a fish-net … “There is no offence for one who is motivated by compassion.” …
As we can see from these examples it is the intention that is of upmost importance.

https://suttacentral.net/en/pi-tv-bu-vb-pj2" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

Cormac Brown
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by Cormac Brown » Sun Mar 27, 2016 6:12 pm

samseva wrote:
I think you are taking it a little too far, Cormac, especially saying we are playing a part in people going to hell (for one, you know nothing of such kammic results, blatantly pulling this out of nowhere, and for two, this is far from the case).
[Edit: Comment withdrawn.]

I implied that if people were to read and believe your comments that lying is ok in certain situations, that would lead them to a bad destination. I go by conviction in the Buddha on this matter - do you call this "blatantly pulling this out of nowhere?" If people acted on your advice, and we are to believe the Buddha, they would be highly likely to go to hell. It is you who are going too far.
Furthermore, the fear of committing but a small lie to prevent one or even a thousand people from dying, for the sake of having pure morality is probably rooted in large part in selfishness rather than wisdom.
Who says that self concern and wisdom are incompatible? You are here quite clearly calling stream-enterers, and those on the path to stream-entry, in fact all noble disciples "selfish," for none of them would lie for any reason. Maybe they are selfish, but they're wisely selfish. As the Buddha says, no matter how hard you look in the world, you'll never find anyone you care for more than you care for yourself. (SN 3.8) Sila, for them, clearly has a much higher value than it does for you.
The fact that a Stream-Enterer wouldn't lie is true, but it is due to the fact that for a Stream-Enterer to lie is impossible. To invert the premises to claim that because a Stream-Enterer couldn't/wouldn't lie, that no one should lie, no matter the cost (and only to say such a thing would even result in playing a part in people going to hell) is an error in basic logic.
Please, Sam, show me my "error in basic logic." I fail to see it. Noble disciples are people who have trained themselves not to lie, until it has become impossible for them to do so, until they've seen so clearly the harm that comes from it that they won't do it, for their own life, for your life, for their mother's life - not for anything. Even people on the path to stream-entry are incapable of breaking the precepts. (SN 25.1) People are free to lie as they please, but if they do they can't be considered disciples of the Buddha, and they will reap painful consequences.

I can understand why it might make you uncomfortable, but by publicly declaring it to be ok to lie, you could of course be playing a part in other ignorant readers' journey downwards. You should rescind.
Cormac, I am sure it is fact that you broke the precept of lying many times. Maybe even today. Yet you claim you would tell the truth (or try to change the subject, say you don't want to answer and so on) to a Nazi soldier, even if that would directly cause the death of a number of people.
How ill-mannered and presumptive. Nevertheless, I'll respond. Yes I have broken this precept in the past. I have not broken it today. Also, I didn't "claim I would" anything. I stated that these would be possible alternatives, and actually "telling the truth" wasn't one I mentioned. Watch it. Seriously.
“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 » Sun Mar 27, 2016 10:13 pm

For a matter of fact, I never said "lying is okay in some situations"; this is something you inferred.
samseva wrote:It is against the precept, but [in the case of a Nazi soldier searching your home for Jews in hiding] saying the truth [or refusing to speak, trying to change the subject and so on] and letting someone or many people be killed is a thousand times worse.
Cormac Brown wrote:
Cormac, I am sure it is fact that you broke the precept of lying many times. Maybe even today. Yet you claim you would tell the truth (or try to change the subject, say you don't want to answer and so on) to a Nazi soldier, even if that would directly cause the death of a number of people.
How ill-mannered and presumptive. Nevertheless, I'll respond. Yes I have broken this precept in the past. I have not broken it today. Also, I didn't "claim I would" anything. I stated that these would be possible alternatives, and actually "telling the truth" wasn't one I mentioned. Watch it. Seriously.
I think this part of your response speaks for itself. The times you did break the precept, were they to save someone's life or for something very unimportant?

If we take the same reasoning with the fifth precept, I am guessing you wouldn't even drink a few gulps of beer (if drinking and not drinking would be the only two possible options), even if it would prevent people from being killed—maybe someone with the same ideologies as Hitler but with Buddhists instead of Jews would be in power and not drinking a bit of beer would reveal your religion and get you and your friends killed (it's not improbable; similar situations probably happened many times 70 or so years ago)? It is clear that a Stream-Enterer wouldn't break the fifth precept as well, so you would let your friends be killed right in front of you to avoid having to drink a few gulps of beer?

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clw_uk
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by clw_uk » Mon Mar 28, 2016 12:16 am

This whole thread reminds me of a quote from Steven Weinberg:

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

I have also noticed that Cormac Brown hasn't provided us with any moral reasoning as to why we shouldn't lie, which is strange as he/she (sorry I don't know your sex) seems to be trying to make moral statements/prescriptions.
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samseva
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by samseva » Mon Mar 28, 2016 12:35 am

clw_uk wrote:This whole thread reminds me of a quote from Steven Weinberg:

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
You are on a Buddhist forum, which is a religion. Also, the problem is not religion itself, but the people who have no understanding of the teachings and/or have blind faith. More specifically, it is ignorance, delusion, hatred and greed. I don't think there is a more well laid-out teaching than Buddhism about the problems and the exact source of those problems.

It's a bit like blaming politics for Donald Trump getting lots of votes. It's not politics that is the problem of Donald Trump possibly being elected, but the people voting for him who are the cause; more specifically, it is lack of education and intelligence in most cases (or fear, craving for security and so on).

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clw_uk
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by clw_uk » Mon Mar 28, 2016 1:22 am

Samseva -
You are on a Buddhist forum, which is a religion.
That's debatable, but for another topic.
Also, the problem is not religion itself, but the people who have no understanding of the teachings and/or have blind faith.
If of course depends on the religion as some religions are more damaging than others. My point was that to put the emphasis on a possible future life over and above this one can lead to good people doing evil things, which I think was the main thrust of the quote.
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D1W1
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Mon Mar 28, 2016 4:57 am

samseva wrote:
D1W1 wrote:
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?
Effort and Result are two different factors. Effort is putting forth action that would be considered lying; Result would be the person believing the lie (or any other possibility).

So, from this, no matter what happens after the effort is made (unless something grave happens due to the lie, or you said something specific, which could both fall under other rules), be it that the person believes you or not—or even hears you speak at all—is not a factor in determining the offense.

However, this has to do with the Vinaya. Morally speaking, telling a lie without the person hearing you at all would still be unwholesome; the person believing you and doing something because of this information would, I think, have bigger kammic implications.
So you say something false to a cat, for example. The cat doesn't understand, is that considered lying? Or maybe talking something false with the intention to lie to non-living things.

I asked a monastic member, he says other people have to understand what was said. If someone does not understand false statement because other person speaks in foreign language, that is not lying. I asked but the intention to lie is there, he clarified that is unwholesome but that is not lying. I asked whether the fourth conditions are only for the laity, he said when it comes to lying there is no difference between laity and monastic.

I think this is similar to the first precept, when someone is not dead (last requirement), how can we say someone has killed him/her, right?

Four conditions also described in http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... satha.html

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.

But obviously they contradict each other. Maybe someone knows why they are different? I think factors need to be fulfilled in Vinaya somehow is the correct one but the same thing with the latter one.

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