Thought on abstaining from false speech

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Laurens
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Thought on abstaining from false speech

Post by Laurens » Tue Jul 24, 2018 5:56 am

Sometimes its tough to follow precepts that simply tell us not to do something. It's often worth trying to formulate them in a positive way. So with that in mind how about this;

When you speak the truth you are channelling Dhamma (or God or whatever it is you like to call it) that will give your words ultimate power behind them.

Thinking of it in those terms, not only does lying automatically become a pathetic insult to something beautiful and profound, it also helps to see why its a good thing to have the truth on your side.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Ruud
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Re: Thought on abstaining from false speech

Post by Ruud » Tue Jul 24, 2018 7:36 am

It is possible to say something true that is still unwholesome (true but unbeneficial, true but at the wrong time). Or to say something true that has nothing to do with the Dhamma and therefore wouldn’t be “channeling the Dhamma”.
On the other hand, lying is always unwholesome. Therefore I think that phrasing it in terms of not lying instead of telling the truth is more appropriate and accurate.

Another thing I think is important to remember is that the precept doesn’t actually say “Don’t use false speech” but “I undertake the training to abstain from false speech”. One is a command, an order. The other is a voluntary training one takes on. To me the first indirectly implies possible punishment when broken while the second actually shows I know what is good for me and want to follow that. Something that I feel is quite a positive attitude.
Dry up what pertains to the past,
do not take up anything to come later.
If you will not grasp in the middle,
you will live at peace.
—Snp.5.11,v.1099 (tr. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)

Whatever is will be was. —Ven. Ñānamoli, A Thinkers Notebook, §221

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rightviewftw
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Re: Thought on abstaining from false speech

Post by rightviewftw » Tue Jul 24, 2018 4:30 pm

Laurens wrote:
Tue Jul 24, 2018 5:56 am
Sometimes its tough to follow precepts that simply tell us not to do something. It's often worth trying to formulate them in a positive way. So with that in mind how about this;

When you speak the truth you are channelling Dhamma (or God or whatever it is you like to call it) that will give your words ultimate power behind them.

Thinking of it in those terms, not only does lying automatically become a pathetic insult to something beautiful and profound, it also helps to see why its a good thing to have the truth on your side.
Good post,
The more one understands the Dhamma thus more one comes to appreciate the truth and lying becomes proportionally perverse, low, harmful, frightening and offensive.
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

Laurens
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Location: Norfolk, England

Re: Thought on abstaining from false speech

Post by Laurens » Tue Jul 24, 2018 9:12 pm

Ruud wrote:
Tue Jul 24, 2018 7:36 am
It is possible to say something true that is still unwholesome (true but unbeneficial, true but at the wrong time). Or to say something true that has nothing to do with the Dhamma and therefore wouldn’t be “channeling the Dhamma”.
On the other hand, lying is always unwholesome. Therefore I think that phrasing it in terms of not lying instead of telling the truth is more appropriate and accurate.

Another thing I think is important to remember is that the precept doesn’t actually say “Don’t use false speech” but “I undertake the training to abstain from false speech”. One is a command, an order. The other is a voluntary training one takes on. To me the first indirectly implies possible punishment when broken while the second actually shows I know what is good for me and want to follow that. Something that I feel is quite a positive attitude.
Yeah I agree that being honest isn't always beneficial, but combined with a sense of compassion you are unlikely to go around telling people that their hairdo is ridiculous (no matter how true) for no reason.

Being honest to be cruel is obviously an exception to what I was saying. I think though that as a general principle what I said has some weight to it.

Speak truly and kindly and your words will have great power.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

TRobinson465
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Re: Thought on abstaining from false speech

Post by TRobinson465 » Sun Jul 29, 2018 4:39 am

Yes ive actually found false speech to be the most difficult to refrain from. I mean Its not hard to abstain from flat out fabrications, but sometimes false speech is uttered just out of lack of mindfulness or misspeaks (more of an issue with actual speaking, then typing). Or maybe you thought it was true at the time, or momentarily or something.
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

TRobinson465
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Re: Thought on abstaining from false speech

Post by TRobinson465 » Sun Jul 29, 2018 4:40 am

And then of course theres white lies. you dont want to speak falsely, but you dont want to harm another with your "true" speech either.
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

Laurens
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Location: Norfolk, England

Re: Thought on abstaining from false speech

Post by Laurens » Wed Aug 01, 2018 7:21 pm

TRobinson465 wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 4:39 am
Yes ive actually found false speech to be the most difficult to refrain from. I mean Its not hard to abstain from flat out fabrications, but sometimes false speech is uttered just out of lack of mindfulness or misspeaks (more of an issue with actual speaking, then typing). Or maybe you thought it was true at the time, or momentarily or something.
Yes, often this can be resolved by your choice of words. For example 'I cannot recall ever having done x' rather than 'I have never done x', or 'x does not appear to be true to me' rather than 'x is not true'.

The problem is, as you say, developing the habits and the mindfulness to keep up with them. If I ever notice I have misspoken about something, for instance I misremembered a photograph I had taken when describing it to someone, I simply try to remember to correct it. I got a bit of a funny look, but mostly I think little things like that make people recognise your honesty.

Personally I don't think the Buddha was as focused on small lies that arise through misspeech, rather the kind that are spoken in knowledge of the truth with a conscious decision to negate it.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Laurens
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Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:56 pm
Location: Norfolk, England

Re: Thought on abstaining from false speech

Post by Laurens » Wed Aug 01, 2018 7:33 pm

TRobinson465 wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 4:40 am
And then of course theres white lies. you dont want to speak falsely, but you dont want to harm another with your "true" speech either.
The example often given is when your wife asks if her dress looks nice.

I think there are ways to tell the truth that aren't saying 'sorry darling but you look horrible in that dress'

'I think you look more beautiful in that black dress I like,' for instance. You might get away with that :lol:

I certainly know what you mean and in practise it isn't always easy to find a way to sugar coat truthful criticism. The s**t sandwich method is one; "I think your hair looks amazing, but I'm not sure the shape of that dress suits you, you should put the black one on because you look stunning in that" in other words select two truthful compliments to sandwich the criticism.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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