Lie/lying by omission

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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purist_andrew
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Lie/lying by omission

Post by purist_andrew » Sun Sep 17, 2017 7:40 pm

Hello friends,

Today I want to ask about the subject of truthfulness and "lying by omission." I have not been able to find a long thread on this board of the topic but please forgive me if it was already discussed... either way I want to ask you all what your thoughts are on this topic. I will share a few of my mine.

Firstly, the precept is to refrain from "false speech," which to me does not seem to cover leaving things out. OTOH, we are taught through the perfections that to observe the truthfulness parami to always speak the truth in (almost) any situation. It is defined as the volition to always speak the truth and the refraining from and the absence of the mental quality of deceit in speech.

Also, I recall one of the records in the monastic discipline, the Buddha asked a question of the bhikkhus and said something along that lines of that if anyone does not answer this yes/no question by speech, it is tantamount to a deliberate lie.... but this type of situation does not appear in the suttas AFAICT as an example for followers in general.

One of my original thoughts on this was to tell the truth if what I wanted to do was hide something... but do we really need to "volunteer" everything? It could get ridiculous. Just walking around all day telling people everything one doesn't want to speak about of every topic? Eg as many practitioners I got into Dhamma when getting clean from using certain illicit drugs (which I have been entirely abstinent from for many years). I don't want people to know the extent to which I did this, but I don't walk around all day announcing "I did this or that drug" because I want to hide it.

One idea I saw on this board was that the determinant of whether to disclose something was whether it was "relevant" that one wants to hide the topic. Is that it? Or is it if one is hiding something harmful to another? Or something else?

On a slightly tangential angle, I would read in some modern Western Dhamma books, including "The Meditator's Atlas" by Matthew Flickstein to _always tell the truth_. But what if what the conversation comes to is a bad quality or deed by someone else? Are we to disclose everything bad someone did if it comes up? Don't we have respect for their avoiding punishment or coming to harm or feeling betrayed by another even if it's their own deed? Wouldn't people hate us and not trust us to be told anything not innocent and pure? I like telling the truth if it's about myself but not "John hates Sue" or "Jennifer stole money from Bob" to everyone who knows them? Isn't it sometimes slander or a borderline case of disparaging or endangering another to harm? I can imagine many cases where it doesn't seem wise. I don't mean to tell a deliberate lie or to spare someone's feelings if they ask how clothing looks or so on, but one could imagine coming to a great deal of trouble and misfortune speaking everything that happens to anyone.

One of my favorite teachers, Ayya Khema, states something along the lines of the precept of not lying to cover lying by omission and also a "half-truth," not only to tell the opposite of the truth.

Additionally, the truthfulness parami literature references someone not "devoted to the truth" being unreliable and incurring many faults and disadvantages and blame... does this cover not telling a deliberate lie and speaking the truth when one speaks, or speaking the truth of everything/all the time?

Furthermore, in some Dhamma literature, I have read that all evil kamma converges on breach of the truth, and we know Buddha said by the person who does one transgression, telling a deliberate lie, there is "no evil he would not do."

Additionally, in Mahasi Sayadaw's recently-published "Manual of Insight," he teaches that the reason that the five precepts for laypeople do not specify to refrain from the other three faults in speech (divisive speech, harsh speech, and idle chatter) is that when one observes the precept to not tell lies, by inference and consequence, one naturally abstains from the other kinds of wrong speech. I wonder if this includes refraining from lying by omission, too, which does not seem to be "false speech."

These passages make this virtue extremely desirable to have to me, but I need to explore it further, thus my post.

Please share your thoughts on this topic, too.

Thank you, friends.

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Re: Lie/lying by omission

Post by Sam Vara » Sun Sep 17, 2017 8:34 pm

purist_andrew wrote:
Firstly, the precept is to refrain from "false speech," which to me does not seem to cover leaving things out. OTOH, we are taught through the perfections that to observe the truthfulness parami to always speak the truth in (almost) any situation. It is defined as the volition to always speak the truth and the refraining from and the absence of the mental quality of deceit in speech.

Also, I recall one of the records in the monastic discipline, the Buddha asked a question of the bhikkhus and said something along that lines of that if anyone does not answer this yes/no question by speech, it is tantamount to a deliberate lie.... but this type of situation does not appear in the suttas AFAICT as an example for followers in general.

One of my original thoughts on this was to tell the truth if what I wanted to do was hide something... but do we really need to "volunteer" everything? It could get ridiculous. Just walking around all day telling people everything one doesn't want to speak about of every topic?
No, I don't think we need to "volunteer" everything, and the truthfulness of crude reportage should not blindly over-ride the other qualities of correct speech. There are many things which are true which I really don't want to tell other people. The embarrassment - on my part, and theirs - would be overwhelming. Luckily, there are also very clear reasons given by the Buddha as to why I don't need to tell people those things:
Monks, a statement endowed with five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people. Which five?

"It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Statements about my past drug use - along with statements about my sexual preferences and experiences, habits of personal hygiene, and what I really think about the person I am addressing - may well be true. But there is, thankfully, hardly ever a right time for them. Nor would my uttering them be motivated by affection. It would not be beneficial. Nor would I be motivated by good will.

So I keep these things to myself.

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Re: Lie/lying by omission

Post by dharmacorps » Sun Sep 17, 2017 11:12 pm

This is a very good subject-- thanks for bringing it up!

I've been considering recently just this, that blunt honestly and volunteering all relevant information is really not necessary or even advisable. I think what is more important is in the content of what you do say, speak the truth and not falsehood. That doesn't mean you need to say everything. Ajahn Amaro once in a talk referenced a few suttas where the Buddha allowed himself to be misunderstood, not because he lied, but because the person hearing him did not understand what he had said or misinterpreted it. So you aren't responsible for the way the receiving party understands what you say-- you are only responsible for the content of what you say.

Again with Ajahn Amaro in this talk, he fielded a question from an sangha member regarding how to talk to someone who has dementia. If they keep asking "where is uncle jerry?" and the fact is, uncle jerry died 20 years ago, you are not beholden to telling the person with dementia every time "jerry is dead" making them re-live it every time. That would be cruel, even though technically truthful.

Instead Ajahn Amaro suggested saying "Uncle Jerry isn't coming". Or, "He can't be here". Both objectively true statements of course. Is it omitting things? Sure. But it is about skillful means and figuring out what the right thing to do in the right situation.

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Re: Lie/lying by omission

Post by DooDoot » Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:46 am

purist_andrew wrote:Today I want to ask about the subject of truthfulness and "lying by omission." I have not been able to find a long thread on this board of the topic but please forgive me if it was already discussed... either way I want to ask you all what your thoughts are on this topic. I will share a few of my mine.
The Buddha often remained silent, according to the suttas (e.g. AN 10.95).
Firstly, the precept is to refrain from "false speech," which to me does not seem to cover leaving things out.
The precept appears to be for laypeople; so the life of a layperson does not fall into disrepute. However, it probably does not mean to tell everything but only when socially beneficial.
we are taught through the perfections that to observe the truthfulness parami to always speak the truth in (almost) any situation.

Where is this written? Thanks. There are suttas where it is taught to speak the truth only when the situation is appropriate, such as when engaging in praise & blame (quoted at the bottom).
It is defined as the volition to always speak the truth and the refraining from and the absence of the mental quality of deceit in speech
Sure. But probably only when required.
Also, I recall one of the records in the monastic discipline, the Buddha asked a question of the bhikkhus and said something along that lines of that if anyone does not answer this yes/no question by speech, it is tantamount to a deliberate lie....
It would be best to quote this record to make the discussion easier.
but this type of situation does not appear in the suttas AFAICT as an example for followers in general.

The 4th precept appears to be for laypeople, which would not be the same as the Vinaya. For example, if a layperson is asked: "What is the number code for the safe in the bank"?", obviously a lay person is not obliged to to always speak the truth in (almost) any situation. But if a monk is asked: "Did you take all of the meat out of the curry that was offered?", the monk obviously must answer to his fellow monks.
One of my original thoughts on this was to tell the truth if what I wanted to do was hide something... but do we really need to "volunteer" everything?
I doubt it.
It could get ridiculous.
Indeed.
Please share your thoughts on this topic, too.
This quote might help:
Potaliya, four kinds of people exist and can be found in the world. What four kinds? The four kinds are:

1. Some people blame those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time, but do not praise those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time.

2. Some people praise those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time, but do not blame those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time.

3. Some people do not blame those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time, and do not praise those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time.

4. Some people blame those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time, and praise those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time.

Potaliya, these four kinds of people exist and can be found in the world. Of these four kinds of people, that kind should be the most fair and right, the most refined, to you?

"Venerable Lord Gotama, of all those four kinds of people, the kind of person who does not blame those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time, and does not praise those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time; is the kind of person who is the most beautiful and refined to me. What is the reason for this? Because this is fair and right with upekkha (equanimity)."

Potaliya, of all those four kinds of people, whichever kind of person blames those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time, and praises those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time; this kind of person is the most beautiful and refined of these four kinds of people. What is the reason for this? It is fair and right because such a one knows the right time in those circumstances.

AN 4.100

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Re: Lie/lying by omission

Post by Bundokji » Mon Sep 18, 2017 12:57 pm

If the intention is to deceive whether by commission of omission, then it is not truthful.

The intention to deceive is linked to clinging to a worldly idea, desire, selfishness, pride, greed...etc

Imagine you tell someone a truth about them, but for the wrong reasons. You were not seeking their well-being, but you said it out of ill-will. Would that be a truthful speech?

Imagine you criticized yourself infront of others, so they think of you as honest and truthful, would that be a truthful speech?

So, whether you choose to speak or remain silent, the underlying intention is the determining factor. As the unenlightened usually have mixed intentions, generally its safer to be silent than to speak.
“It happened that a fire broke out backstage in a theater. The clown came out to inform the public. They thought it was a jest and applauded. He repeated his warning. They shouted even louder. So I think the world will come to an end amid the general applause from all the wits who believe that it is a joke.”
Søren Kierkegaard

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Re: Lie/lying by omission

Post by purist_andrew » Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:08 pm

Bundokji wrote:If the intention is to deceive whether by commission of omission, then it is not truthful.

The intention to deceive is linked to clinging to a worldly idea, desire, selfishness, pride, greed...etc

Imagine you tell someone a truth about them, but for the wrong reasons. You were not seeking their well-being, but you said it out of ill-will. Would that be a truthful speech?

Imagine you criticized yourself infront of others, so they think of you as honest and truthful, would that be a truthful speech?

So, whether you choose to speak or remain silent, the underlying intention is the determining factor. As the unenlightened usually have mixed intentions, generally its safer to be silent than to speak.

Hi Bundokji and others,

Thanks for your reply and thoughts.

I have considered also, as you, that the determinant of when to speak the truth is whether there is an intention to deceive by staying silent or saying something false (again, lie of commission or omission). But should this really be the sole factor in making the decision? Consider some of the examples I shared re: "reporting" or "volunteering" information. For example, I have used many illegal drugs in my past, that I do not want people to know about, especially my family. Does that mean when I see them and think about it I have to announce, "I did this drug or that" out of the blue? Or what about the case where I have poor personal hygiene habits. If I go to work and I haven't showered, where I don't want people to know, should I tell my boss? Or speak anything I don't want people to know whenever? It would seem to be foolish and bizarre to do this type of thing in every situation.

It seems to me to be "points" for this tenet's veracity, though, as when the definition of the parami of truthfulness is something along the lines of "mental volition to speak the truth to remove/absent the mental quality and intent of deceit in speech"... so when there is intention to deceive, speak the truth to overcome it. But again, a few considerations counter to this theory would be the above examples, or any similar situation, or as another member wisely suggested, "crude reportage" overstepping the bounds of other considerations of right speech, ie, for it to be beneficial, kind, etc.

Additionally, as I mentioned I think speaking the truth in every situation could get one into a lot of trouble... while they say truthful speech prevents slander, idle chatter, and harsh speech, supposedly, it would seem that sometimes reporting on something that happened in a life or personal situation would be harmful. What if someone does an action that infringes on another's rights, or says something mean, or shares a secret they were not supposed to? Do we have to let the cat out of the bag in every situation like this by truthfulness?

Does "speak the truth" mean when you speak, it should be the truth, or does it mean when there's truth, speak it?

If all evil states converge on violation of the truth and all wholesome states converge on truthfulness, this seems to be an extremely important question. I would like to quote Mahasi Sayadaw, again, that the reason there is only one speech-related precept in the five precepts is that truthful speech purifies the other faults of speech as well. So it's doubly important.

Thanks, all.

-Andrew

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Re: Lie/lying by omission

Post by Bundokji » Wed Sep 20, 2017 7:57 am

purist_andrew wrote:
Bundokji wrote:If the intention is to deceive whether by commission of omission, then it is not truthful.

The intention to deceive is linked to clinging to a worldly idea, desire, selfishness, pride, greed...etc

Imagine you tell someone a truth about them, but for the wrong reasons. You were not seeking their well-being, but you said it out of ill-will. Would that be a truthful speech?

Imagine you criticized yourself infront of others, so they think of you as honest and truthful, would that be a truthful speech?

So, whether you choose to speak or remain silent, the underlying intention is the determining factor. As the unenlightened usually have mixed intentions, generally its safer to be silent than to speak.

Hi Bundokji and others,

Thanks for your reply and thoughts.

I have considered also, as you, that the determinant of when to speak the truth is whether there is an intention to deceive by staying silent or saying something false (again, lie of commission or omission). But should this really be the sole factor in making the decision? Consider some of the examples I shared re: "reporting" or "volunteering" information. For example, I have used many illegal drugs in my past, that I do not want people to know about, especially my family. Does that mean when I see them and think about it I have to announce, "I did this drug or that" out of the blue? Or what about the case where I have poor personal hygiene habits. If I go to work and I haven't showered, where I don't want people to know, should I tell my boss? Or speak anything I don't want people to know whenever? It would seem to be foolish and bizarre to do this type of thing in every situation.

It seems to me to be "points" for this tenet's veracity, though, as when the definition of the parami of truthfulness is something along the lines of "mental volition to speak the truth to remove/absent the mental quality and intent of deceit in speech"... so when there is intention to deceive, speak the truth to overcome it. But again, a few considerations counter to this theory would be the above examples, or any similar situation, or as another member wisely suggested, "crude reportage" overstepping the bounds of other considerations of right speech, ie, for it to be beneficial, kind, etc.

Additionally, as I mentioned I think speaking the truth in every situation could get one into a lot of trouble... while they say truthful speech prevents slander, idle chatter, and harsh speech, supposedly, it would seem that sometimes reporting on something that happened in a life or personal situation would be harmful. What if someone does an action that infringes on another's rights, or says something mean, or shares a secret they were not supposed to? Do we have to let the cat out of the bag in every situation like this by truthfulness?

Does "speak the truth" mean when you speak, it should be the truth, or does it mean when there's truth, speak it?

If all evil states converge on violation of the truth and all wholesome states converge on truthfulness, this seems to be an extremely important question. I would like to quote Mahasi Sayadaw, again, that the reason there is only one speech-related precept in the five precepts is that truthful speech purifies the other faults of speech as well. So it's doubly important.

Thanks, all.

-Andrew
Thanks Andrew,

I will take this opportunity to explore the difference between the Buddhist Truth and the worldly use of its concept. I by no mean fully understand it, but as a practitioner still trying.

The term "truth" implies knowledge, and in the context of this discussion, knowledge is information stored in our memories, and it is retrievable. So, truth is known usually by comparing at least two things: something that is taking place in the world, and the words we use to express it. When the words we use to describe phenomena is accurate, we consider these words to be true, and vice versa. This is the simplest way of understanding our use of the term "truth".

However, in the human realm, it gets more complicated. We are not only aware of the phenomena, but when we choose to use or not to use words, what affects our decision is our awareness of the impact of the truth expressed in its simplest form. This is also a part of the truth.

In addition to our awareness of the consequences, there is another factor, that is, our own value system. What makes one consequence favorable or less favorable is when its measured against a certain value. Values themselves are ranked upon feelings associated with them. Those who value sensuality are more likely to prefer consequences that results in the arising of feelings of sensuality. Idealists are more likely to act in a way that gives rise to feelings associated with the ideal (usually in the form of a positive self image).

Our awareness of the possible consequences and the fact that they give rise to certain feelings leads to attachment, to suffering. We start to act in a predictable way based on our own attachments, and when phenomena does not comply, suffering arises. This very thread is a search for predictability, we want an approach to truthful speech that applies in all circumstances.

Buddhism provides general rules, but attempting to grasp them defeats the purpose. When we study the four noble truths, we notice that the path itself, starts with right view, which includes the four noble truths, so the Buddhist truth is somehow intertwined, encircled into itself. So, the Buddhist truth is driven by detachment and leads to detachment at the same time. The worldly approach is driven by attachment and leads to attachment.

To sum up, for the detached, truthful speech arise naturally by virtue of being detached, not by attempting to develop a coherent theory of what constitutes a truthful speech and follow it all the time. All in my opinion.
“It happened that a fire broke out backstage in a theater. The clown came out to inform the public. They thought it was a jest and applauded. He repeated his warning. They shouted even louder. So I think the world will come to an end amid the general applause from all the wits who believe that it is a joke.”
Søren Kierkegaard

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Re: Lie/lying by omission

Post by purist_andrew » Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:23 pm

Hello, DooDoot and thank you for your reply.
DooDoot wrote:
Firstly, the precept is to refrain from "false speech," which to me does not seem to cover leaving things out.
The precept appears to be for laypeople; so the life of a layperson does not fall into disrepute. However, it probably does not mean to tell everything but only when socially beneficial.
If speech should only be spoken when it's beneficial then it would seem lying by omission does not apply to speech. From my studies I understand that truthfulness is the volition to counter deceit, so perhaps when relevant like confessing one's faults or admitting a wrong against someone, or some other case, it's pertinent.

Re: my comment "we are taught through the perfections that to observe the truthfulness parami to always speak the truth in (almost) any situation your reply below.
Where is this written? Thanks. There are suttas where it is taught to speak the truth only when the situation is appropriate, such as when engaging in praise & blame (quoted at the bottom).
I have read it in "The Meditator's Atlas," by Matthew Flickstein, "Analysis of Perfections" from BPS, and I /think/, "What the Buddha taught", even IIRC Bhikkhu Pesala, that a Buddhist always tells the truth.. to me this means in every situation, not only when one speaks it should be the truth. But I can see where there should be exception to this rule, which is why I posted with the thought of clearing up my doubts.
<<<Also, I recall one of the records in the monastic discipline, the Buddha asked a question of the bhikkhus and said something along that lines of that if anyone does not answer this yes/no question by speech, it is tantamount to a deliberate lie....>>>
It would be best to quote this record to make the discussion easier.
My friend, I have found the quote here https://www.dhammatalks.org/vinaya/bmc/Section0055.html in what appears to be the Vinaya or related literature, in the section on "confession" of Vinaya offenses:
“The Pāṭimokkha should not be heard by a bhikkhu with an offense.”—Cv.IX.2

“Just as, when questioned individually, one should answer, the same holds true when in this assembly the declaration (at the end of each section) is made three times. Should any bhikkhu, when the declaration is made three times, remember an existing offense but not reveal it, that is a deliberate lie.…What is a deliberate lie? A dukkaṭa offense.”—Mv.II.3.3; Mv.II.3.7
I can imagine many cases where not mentioning something is omission, many where mentioning something would be "crude reportage" or unnecessary "volunteering," so I made this post to see everyone else's thoughts. See my comments and different situations for which I asked what the appropriate behavior would be in the interest of this virtue of truthfulness that purifies all other speech and enables many (other) virtues.
Potaliya, four kinds of people exist and can be found in the world. What four kinds? The four kinds are:

1. Some people blame those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time, but do not praise those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time.

2. Some people praise those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time, but do not blame those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time.

3. Some people do not blame those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time, and do not praise those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time.

4. Some people blame those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time, and praise those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time.

Potaliya, these four kinds of people exist and can be found in the world. Of these four kinds of people, that kind should be the most fair and right, the most refined, to you?

"Venerable Lord Gotama, of all those four kinds of people, the kind of person who does not blame those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time, and does not praise those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time; is the kind of person who is the most beautiful and refined to me. What is the reason for this? Because this is fair and right with upekkha (equanimity)."

Potaliya, of all those four kinds of people, whichever kind of person blames those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time, and praises those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time; this kind of person is the most beautiful and refined of these four kinds of people. What is the reason for this? It is fair and right because such a one knows the right time in those circumstances.

AN 4.100
DooDoot, I can relate this to where I read the four or five factors of well-spoken speech, where it would seem "crude reportage" would be inappropriate, but if one only speaks something according to the Dhamma and what is beneficial, it would seem to me that "admitting something" to someone or "lying by omission" might not apply, to the precepts on speech, but I read in much Dhamma literature that it should.

So there is grey area... any ideas of the examples I brought up? When is the volition to speak truth necessary to shut out the mental quality of deceit, which is so unwholesome? There seem to me to be much uncertainty in many cases. From my reading I have understood that the reason truthfulness is singled out as a virtue among the ten perfections in addition to being part of morality and sila is that it is a fundamental quality for all virtues and the other perfections. So it's really important, thus I want to identify the appropriate behavior in different types of situations and clear this up. See this in the quotes from the commentarial literature that "all evil states converge on transgression of truth," the comments in the suttas about one who possesses truthfulness being able to acheive all the requisites of enlightenment, about purifying the other unwholesome courses of speech. Of course, I think that this is the reason that the five precepts don't cover the other courses of action of speech, truthful speech takes care of them all (see my comments about Mahasi Sayadaw's comments on this matter).

Thank you!

Regards,
Andrew

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Re: Lie/lying by omission

Post by purist_andrew » Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:00 pm

Thanks Andrew,

I will take this opportunity to explore the difference between the Buddhist Truth and the worldly use of its concept. I by no mean fully understand it, but as a practitioner still trying.

The term "truth" implies knowledge, and in the context of this discussion, knowledge is information stored in our memories, and it is retrievable. So, truth is known usually by comparing at least two things: something that is taking place in the world, and the words we use to express it. When the words we use to describe phenomena is accurate, we consider these words to be true, and vice versa. This is the simplest way of understanding our use of the term "truth".

However, in the human realm, it gets more complicated. We are not only aware of the phenomena, but when we choose to use or not to use words, what affects our decision is our awareness of the impact of the truth expressed in its simplest form. This is also a part of the truth.

In addition to our awareness of the consequences, there is another factor, that is, our own value system. What makes one consequence favorable or less favorable is when its measured against a certain value. Values themselves are ranked upon feelings associated with them. Those who value sensuality are more likely to prefer consequences that results in the arising of feelings of sensuality. Idealists are more likely to act in a way that gives rise to feelings associated with the ideal (usually in the form of a positive self image).

Our awareness of the possible consequences and the fact that they give rise to certain feelings leads to attachment, to suffering. We start to act in a predictable way based on our own attachments, and when phenomena does not comply, suffering arises. This very thread is a search for predictability, we want an approach to truthful speech that applies in all circumstances.
Bundokji,

I understand this concept is one reason the Buddha taught morality. He wants beings' actions which reflect a desire for happiness, to be aligned with those principles about what will lead to happiness, ie, not looking for happiness in ways that will bring unhappiness and harm. This is the practice of the wholesome kammas and abstention from the unwholesome.
Buddhism provides general rules, but attempting to grasp them defeats the purpose. When we study the four noble truths, we notice that the path itself, starts with right view, which includes the four noble truths, so the Buddhist truth is somehow intertwined, encircled into itself. So, the Buddhist truth is driven by detachment and leads to detachment at the same time. The worldly approach is driven by attachment and leads to attachment.

To sum up, for the detached, truthful speech arise naturally by virtue of being detached, not by attempting to develop a coherent theory of what constitutes a truthful speech and follow it all the time. All in my opinion.
This seems partly on-spot in that virtue naturally seems to flow if we have the wholesome roots, but to go in the direction of greater morality and detachment we need to understand what principles apply to gaining these qualities, including progressing with the kammas rooted in wholesome intention.

However, I think your comment about not grasping the rules of conduct is off the mark. There are specific mental factors that lead to predictable results and the Buddha enumerated these for his followers very specifically. He defined and expounded the ten unwholesome kammas and five hindrances (among others) and the qualities they are rooted in very clearly, and the commentarial literature defines specific cases where each rule applies and does not. For example, the qualities of a female which make her an inappropriate partner for relations with a man, eg those under protection from their parents, those under age, those living with another man. Here is a quote from Bhikkhu Bodhi in his book on N8P for example on the factors of breaking the second precept:
"Taking what is not given" means appropriating the rightful belongings of others with thievish intent. If one takes something that has no owner, such as unclaimed stones, wood, or even gems extracted from the earth, the act does not count as a violation even though these objects have not been given. But also implied as a transgression, though not expressly stated, is withholding from others what should rightfully be given to them.

Commentaries mention a number of ways in which "taking what is not given" can be committed. Some of the most common may be enumerated:

(1) stealing: taking the belongings of others secretly, as in housebreaking, pickpocketing, etc.;

(2) robbery: taking what belongs to others openly by force or threats;

(3) snatching: suddenly pulling away another's possession before he has time to resist;

(4) fraudulence: gaining possession of another's belongings by falsely claiming them as one's own;

(5) deceitfulness: using false weights and measures to cheat customers.
So I think knowing or identifying when a defiled mental state takes place and what its cause & effect & conditional resultants are, is important.

Therefore I am trying to stir up discussion on when the virtue of speaking the truth applies & doesn't apply. Certainly something important for thoughtful discussion. Thank you for your comments.

Regards,
Andrew

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Bundokji
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Re: Lie/lying by omission

Post by Bundokji » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:36 am

purist_andrew wrote:However, I think your comment about not grasping the rules of conduct is off the mark. There are specific mental factors that lead to predictable results and the Buddha enumerated these for his followers very specifically.
I think this is the crux of the matter. The Buddha warned of wrongly grasping the teachings, and declared that to "those who wisely examining the purpose, these teachings will yield insight" (the simile of the snake). In the simile of the raft, the Buddha started by saying "I shall show you, monks, the Teaching's similitude to a raft: as having the purpose of crossing over, not the purpose of being clung to".

The Buddha's teachings are not easy to understand, and my input in this discussion only reflects my current understanding which i can assure you that it is still flawed. The way i understand it is that when we decide to speak the truth or remain silent, the decision should be examined against our state of mind, and whether it serves the higher purpose of the teachings, that is, the development of wisdom and detachment.

Thank you for bringing up this interesting discussion. To me it was thought provoking and i am looking forward to read your and other members input who might choose to comment. What does it exactly mean "to go beyond good and bad" is indeed worthy of investigation and difficult to understand.
“It happened that a fire broke out backstage in a theater. The clown came out to inform the public. They thought it was a jest and applauded. He repeated his warning. They shouted even louder. So I think the world will come to an end amid the general applause from all the wits who believe that it is a joke.”
Søren Kierkegaard

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