Understanding the fourth precept

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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torqz
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by torqz » Wed May 04, 2011 8:49 am

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May the triple gem bless bless you, may you quickly realize the 4 noble truths in this Gautama Buddhas dispensation... Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!

nameless
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by nameless » Sat Jun 18, 2011 4:19 pm

I don't think the mom issue is considered a lie because all parties concerned know who "mom" refers to, regardless of the accuracy of the term. This is in contrast to for example, if mom didn't call and you said she did.

Jhana4
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by Jhana4 » Sat Jun 18, 2011 4:25 pm

PeDr0 wrote:I understand the Buddha said that under no circumstances was it ever skillful to tell a lie.

But what if the Gestapo come knocking on your door and you have a family of Jews living in your basement?
See Godwin's Law :)

What does "okay" mean?

- in compliance with the wishes of a god who has the power to know you are lying and to punish you?
- not hurtful to yourself?
- not hurtful to someone else?
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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manas
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by manas » Sat Jun 18, 2011 8:00 pm

I see the mind as my 'life's work'. What it's condition will be like by the end of my life, that's the single most important thing. Dhamma practice brightens it, little by little; unwholesome actions darken it, even just by a little.

I can recall a place in the suttas where the Buddha says that one should see Virtue as an 'ornament' for the mind. In that sense, telling a deliberate lie, unless for some urgent life-threatening reason, is always going to have a 'net' negative effect, even if no-one (else) is harmed in any way by our lie. Yes, no-one was harmed by our little 'white lie', but our own mind saw it! And so, it would be contaminating.

And no, I'm not perfect, either! So I'm not trying to sound preachy. I intuit that most of us could find some improvement we could make in the area of samma vaca. (?).


Regarding 'not wishing to hurt someone's feelings', let's look at an example from my own past. I was with my (now) ex at the time. She had just bought a new dress, but I did not know this. So when she asked me what I thought of it, I just stupidly blurted out the first thing that came into my mind - that I did not think so much of it. (Her response was less than pleased!). Now if I had been a bit more aware, I could have just said 'it's alright' or 'yes, it's fine' instead, and side-stepped the issue of whether I 'liked' it or not. Because, truthfully, it is fine - all functional clothing is 'fine' so long as it does it's job - and I would have kept the precept, but without hurting her feelings in the process. (Anyway, we live and learn!)

As for the question, 'does my butt look big in this?', that would take a whole new level of skill to negotiate...I guess we could say "well, 'big' is a relative term"...but that's not going to go down well either, I feel... :thinking:
Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

(SN 22.97)

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cooran
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by cooran » Sat Jun 18, 2011 8:46 pm

Being mindful, helps. This prevents blurting out responses which are unskilful.

If you are hiding someone to save their lives, you would have already thought about various scenarios. If the Gestapo come to your door, you can smile and say ‘Come in! Cold day isn’t it? Can I get you a warm drink?’
You didn’t say what question they asked, but a skilful answer (in this case, one prepared beforehand) can sometimes remove the need for a direct lie.

If someone asks ‘What do you think of my new dress’ – even if you don’t particularly think it suits them, if you know bluntness will hurt their feelings, you can easily say ‘I love the colour’, or ‘what material is it?’, or ‘who is the designer?’, etc.

Right Speech from His Own Lips
http://www.suanmokkh.org/archive/rtspch1.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Right Speech – Samma Vaca
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... index.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

alan
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by alan » Sun Jun 19, 2011 3:25 am

hi Pedro. I had forgotten about this thread. Here is your answer:
If the Nazis knock on your door and you are sheltering a family of Jews, you lie like hell. Convincingly, and with a smile. You can do this without regret because you are aware that your intentions are for the greater good.

The world is full of people who slavishly follow rules but have no self awareness. Don't be like that.

whynotme
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by whynotme » Wed Jun 22, 2011 7:58 am

Dear alan,

Do you believe in the Buddha or do you believe in your thoughts?

The Buddha once told a story about the war between devas and asuras, the devas lost and retreated and while was retreating, sakka the king of devas saw some beings on the way and didn't want to kill them by riding over them. So he came back to find another way, even it meant facing the asuras and sacrificing himself. But when the asuras saw him, they think he came back with reinforcements, feared and then retreated. At last, the Buddha said the devas win the battle by following the dhamma.

I think we should not try to out-lie the professionals. Because having intention for a lie, we could fear and make misstakes then enemies could reveal we are hiding something. While a truth could make the mind calm, and the enemies would not suspect us.

In my opinion, it is never OK to lie, but I will not judge other people if they lie in situations like in the first post.

It is never OK to lie, never.

Regards.
Please stop following me

santa100
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by santa100 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 2:46 pm

As Jason and Cooran mentioned above, always try to use other skillful means without lying first. Hopefully it will resolve a majority of situations. But be prepared for exceptional cases which one has exhausted all options and having to use lying as the last resort. There will be cases which pretty much comes down to picking the lesser of the 2 evils. In the Gestapo case, provided that all options have been exhausted, and provided that one is pretty certain that by lying will give a much higher probability of saving the Jew family than not lying, then one should go with the more logical choice. One has to weigh 2 outcomes: create a negative kamma of lying and yet making positive kamma of saving lives OR create a very severe negative kamma of destroying lives while making a positive kamma of saying the truth...Let's pray that we'll never have to face such situation. But in case we do, then better to be prepared...

chownah
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by chownah » Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:11 pm

The next time you feel that you are forced to lie first be mindful of the fact that you will be telling a lie and then very mindfully tell the lie and then in your daily mindfulness try to see the results of this kamma.....don't worry about it....use it....study it....learn from it....
chownah

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Bodhisurfer
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by Bodhisurfer » Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:51 pm

rowyourboat wrote:... There are no prohibitions in Buddhism. There are however wise choices when it comes to your thought, speech and actions, with particular consequences as a result, that you must be prepared to live with.
:namaste:

With metta

Matheesha
I agree with Matheesha :thumbsup:
I dont see the use of the word 'mum' inacurate as it may have been as a lie. I often refer to my partner as my 'wife' even though we have never been through a marriage ceremony -I dont see that as a lie even though its technically inaccurate.

However, at this point on the Buddha's path, it seems to me that there could be situations when a deliberate attempt to deceive would be the right action. Though mainly this is academic, as I'm lucky enough to live under circumstances where people with hostile intent are not knocking on my door looking to kill the people hiding in my basement. :anjali:

But 99.999% of the time deceit is wrong and against the precepts and the 8np
Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya

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ground
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by ground » Sun Jun 26, 2011 3:26 am

I think it is not advisable to openly advocate breaking any of the silas. I suspect that it has negative consequences for oneself and for others. One really should refrain from it and not take speculative fantasies as legitimations for openly advocating not to stick to the silas (in the fantasized cases).
It is like saying "Well a bit of alcohol cannot do any harm" when both, the one who speaks thus and the audience the said is addressed to are alcoholics.

Kind regards

Lhamo
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by Lhamo » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:26 pm

Of course it's ok to lie, under certain circumstances (key phrase). One can break the precepts if it is for a higher good, and if we are motivated by compassion. I doubt the Buddha said to never lie, I'm pretty sure there's a teaching about the "higher good" principle. But breaking a precept would require an extraordinary circumstance, and pure motives. The precepts aren't commandments. There's a measure of flexibility built into them.

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bodom
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by bodom » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:18 pm

Lhamo wrote:Of course it's ok to lie, under certain circumstances (key phrase). One can break the precepts if it is for a higher good, and if we are motivated by compassion. I doubt the Buddha said to never lie, I'm pretty sure there's a teaching about the "higher good" principle. But breaking a precept would require an extraordinary circumstance, and pure motives. The precepts aren't commandments. There's a measure of flexibility built into them.
The Buddha made it clear that there is no flexibilty here. If one chooses to lie one must accept his kamma but the Buddha NEVER said that it was ok to lie or that there is flexibility.
Herein someone avoids false speech and abstains from it. He speaks the truth, is devoted to truth, reliable, worthy of confidence, not a deceiver of people. Being at a meeting, or amongst people, or in the midst of his relatives, or in a society, or in the king's court, and called upon and asked as witness to tell what he knows, he answers, if he knows nothing: "I know nothing," and if he knows, he answers: "I know"; if he has seen nothing, he answers: "I have seen nothing," and if he has seen, he answers: "I have seen." Thus he never knowingly speaks a lie, either for the sake of his own advantage, or for the sake of another person's advantage, or for the sake of any advantage whatsoever. - AN 10:176
:anjali:
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 mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


"Dont send the mind outside. Watch the mind right at the mind."

- Ajahn Dune Atulo

santa100
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by santa100 » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:42 pm

bodom wrote:
The Buddha made it clear that there is no flexibilty here. If one chooses to lie one must accept his kamma but the Buddha NEVER said that it was ok to lie or that there is flexibility.

Herein someone avoids false speech and abstains from it. He speaks the truth, is devoted to truth, reliable, worthy of confidence, not a deceiver of people. Being at a meeting, or amongst people, or in the midst of his relatives, or in a society, or in the king's court, and called upon and asked as witness to tell what he knows, he answers, if he knows nothing: "I know nothing," and if he knows, he answers: "I know"; if he has seen nothing, he answers: "I have seen nothing," and if he has seen, he answers: "I have seen." Thus he never knowingly speaks a lie, either for the sake of his own advantage, or for the sake of another person's advantage, or for the sake of any advantage whatsoever. - AN 10:176
If the text above be applied with 0% flexibility, then what a blessing it was for the Jewish people during the Nazis period for not having to hide in the basement of a German Buddhist family... :smile:

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bodom
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by bodom » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:50 pm

santa100 wrote:If the text above be applied with 0% flexibility, then what a blessing it was for the Jewish people during the Nazis period for not having to hide in the basement of a German Buddhist family... :smile:
Yes that is all well and good and if in the situation above I would do the same for the jewish family but the fact remains the same: the Buddha NEVER said it was ok to lie under any circumstances. One chooses ones actions and if they choose to lie they must accept there kamma. Unfortunately one cannot hide from kamma in a basement.

:anjali:
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 mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


"Dont send the mind outside. Watch the mind right at the mind."

- Ajahn Dune Atulo

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cooran
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by cooran » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:13 pm

Hello all,

It may be worthwhile to read:
VOLITION (AN INTRODUCTION TO THE LAW OF KAMMA) by Silananda, Sayadaw U

Introduction
The Law of Kamma
What is Kamma?
Good and Bad Kamma
Understanding of The Law of Kamma
Classification of Kamma
Question and Answer

’Is everything due to kamma? In the Buddhist Dictionary Venerable Nyanatiloka writes: “Totally wrong is the belief that, according to Buddhism, everything is the result of previous action.” Any kammically wholesome or unwholesome volitional action is not the result of former action because it is the action itself; that is, volition is not influenced by the results of past kamma. There are several categories of cittas, of consciousness.’’
http://www.dhammaweb.net/htmlbook/page.php?page=5&id=2" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


With metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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bodom
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by bodom » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:26 pm

Thanks Chris.

And just to clarify the kamma in my previous post I am referring to is kamma vipaka or the fruition of kamma:

According to the seed that’s sown,
So is the fruit you reap therefrom,
Doer of good will gather good,
Doer of evil, evil reaps,
Down is the seed and thou shalt taste the fruit thereof.

—Saṃyutta Nikāya

:anjali:
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 mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


"Dont send the mind outside. Watch the mind right at the mind."

- Ajahn Dune Atulo

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Ben
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by Ben » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:28 pm

bodom wrote: Unfortunately one cannot hide from kamma in a basement.
Indeed!
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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Sherab
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by Sherab » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:52 pm

PeDr0 wrote:I understand the Buddha said that under no circumstances was it ever skillful to tell a lie.
But what if the Gestapo come knocking on your door and you have a family of Jews living in your basement?
Here is how I see it:
If you decide to lie to save someone, the intention is good, but it is still a lie. Therefore, there is still karmic consequence from that particular lie.
If you decide not to lie in order to keep your observance of the precept pure, there is still the karmic consequence of letting someone die.
For me, the choice is obvious.

santa100
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Re: Is it ever O.K. to lie?

Post by santa100 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:02 am

bodom wrote:
Unfortunately one cannot hide from kamma in a basement.
Knowing this truth fully well, the compassionate being don't give up but still try their best for the sake of others..

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