Understanding the fourth precept

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

Post by samseva » Mon Mar 28, 2016 1:38 pm

D1W1 wrote:[...]
This is straight from the Buddhist Monastic Code I (page 237):
1. A deliberate lie is to be confessed.

[...]

A deliberate lie is a statement or gesture made with the aim of misrepresenting the truth to someone else. The K/Commentary, summarizing the long “wheels” in the Vibhaṇga, 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.

[...]

Result is not a factor under this rule. Thus whether anyone understands the lie or is deceived by it is irrelevant to the offense.
For the layman and according to the text written and compiled by Ñanavara Thera, it seems the four conditions mentioned need to be there. However, I'll have to look it up to make sure. This is not the case for the Vinaya rule, although, all monks still have precepts. I checked the other rules regarding lying (Pr 4, Sg 8 or 9, Pc 13, 24, and 76) and none of them require the factor of result.

Regarding the cat or the person not speaking the same language as you, by Vinaya standards, that would be a breach of the rule, although the Pāli would need to be looked over to see if an animal counts as an individual and if such a passage is present (it is a good guess talking to inanimate objects wouldn't be). For the precept, it would be unwholesome kamma, but like mentioned above, to know if it breaks the precept would need a confirmation regarding the different factors needing to be present.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:40 am

samseva wrote:
D1W1 wrote:[...]
This is straight from the Buddhist Monastic Code I (page 237):
1. A deliberate lie is to be confessed.

[...]

A deliberate lie is a statement or gesture made with the aim of misrepresenting the truth to someone else. The K/Commentary, summarizing the long “wheels” in the Vibhaṇga, 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.

[...]

Result is not a factor under this rule. Thus whether anyone understands the lie or is deceived by it is irrelevant to the offense.
For the layman and according to the text written and compiled by Ñanavara Thera, it seems the four conditions mentioned need to be there. However, I'll have to look it up to make sure. This is not the case for the Vinaya rule, although, all monks still have precepts. I checked the other rules regarding lying (Pr 4, Sg 8 or 9, Pc 13, 24, and 76) and none of them require the factor of result.

Regarding the cat or the person not speaking the same language as you, by Vinaya standards, that would be a breach of the rule, although the Pāli would need to be looked over to see if an animal counts as an individual and if such a passage is present (it is a good guess talking to inanimate objects wouldn't be). For the precept, it would be unwholesome kamma, but like mentioned above, to know if it breaks the precept would need a confirmation regarding the different factors needing to be present.

Thanks for your reply, samseva.
Take for example Pc. 76, I would say that is not lying but groundlessly accusing other. Accusing others without fact but that is not the same as lying in musavada.

Check this out:
https://ctrlv.cz/GtcH" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Analysis Vinaya by Bhikkhu Nyanatusita. Also similar with Sanghadisesa 9, without fact maliciously accuse other bhikkhu but I think that is not lying as we normally know.

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samseva
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by samseva » Tue Mar 29, 2016 2:25 pm

D1W1 wrote:Take for example Pc. 76, I would say that is not lying but groundlessly accusing other. Accusing others without fact but that is not the same as lying in musavada.
According to Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu's Buddhist Monastic Code, the unfounded accusation is not considered true by the accuser, which seems it would make it lying.
2) Perception: One has not seen, heard, or suspected him of committing the offense one is charging him with.

[...]

Non-offenses. As under Sg 8, there is no offense if one makes the accusation—or gets someone else to make it—when one thinks it to be true, even if the other bhikkhu is actually not guilty of the offense.
D1W1 wrote:Also similar with Saṇghadisesa 9, without fact maliciously accuse other bhikkhu but I think that is not lying as we normally know.
It is similar with Sanghādisesa 8 and 9. This issue is with the meaning of the term 'unfounded charge'. Here is the Vibaṇga's definition:
The Vibhaṇga defines an unfounded charge as one having no basis in what has been seen, heard, or suspected. In other words, the accuser has not seen the accused committing the offense in question, nor has he heard anything reliable to that effect, nor is there anything in the accused’s behavior to give rise to any honest suspicion.
Making up false facts or even distorting facts would be considered as lying. Regarding distorted facts, If you say you caught a 3-foot fish, when you know in reality it is only 2 feet, that is a lie.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Sun Apr 03, 2016 10:07 am

samseva wrote:
D1W1 wrote:Take for example Pc. 76, I would say that is not lying but groundlessly accusing other. Accusing others without fact but that is not the same as lying in musavada.
According to Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu's Buddhist Monastic Code, the unfounded accusation is not considered true by the accuser, which seems it would make it lying.
2) Perception: One has not seen, heard, or suspected him of committing the offense one is charging him with.

[...]

Non-offenses. As under Sg 8, there is no offense if one makes the accusation—or gets someone else to make it—when one thinks it to be true, even if the other bhikkhu is actually not guilty of the offense.
D1W1 wrote:Also similar with Saṇghadisesa 9, without fact maliciously accuse other bhikkhu but I think that is not lying as we normally know.
It is similar with Sanghādisesa 8 and 9. This issue is with the meaning of the term 'unfounded charge'. Here is the Vibaṇga's definition:
The Vibhaṇga defines an unfounded charge as one having no basis in what has been seen, heard, or suspected. In other words, the accuser has not seen the accused committing the offense in question, nor has he heard anything reliable to that effect, nor is there anything in the accused’s behavior to give rise to any honest suspicion.
Making up false facts or even distorting facts would be considered as lying. Regarding distorted facts, If you say you caught a 3-foot fish, when you know in reality it is only 2 feet, that is a lie.
Sorry for the late reply.
So does it mean when a Bhikkhu breaches Sanghadisesa 9 or 8, he is automatically breaches Pacittiya (lying)? I am yet to receive an answer from a monastic whether a mere effort is considered lie or not, will post it here. Other monastic members in this forum is more than welcome to give a response. I just couldn't make it make sense how an effort considered a lie except it's an unwholesome mind activity.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Sun Apr 03, 2016 10:46 am

D1W1 wrote:In the commentary, it's said in order to lie four conditions must be met:

1. An untrue statement
2. Intention to lie
3. Effort is made
4. Others deceived

Edit: 4. Others understand what was said not Others deceived.

But I read somewhere Thanissaro Bhikkhu says whether someone is deceived or not is irrelevant, it's not in the original Vinaya.
I think it's understandable even if someone is not deceived, the intention to lie is there. It depends on the doer not the perceiver, so I think one doesn't need to fulfil all the requirements. But at the same time it's not quite relevant either, if a being is not dead (no 4. requirement), how can we say someone killed him/her?

To make it more complex, Buddha advice to Rahula is:

tasmātiha te, rāhula, ‘hassāpi na musā bhaṇissāmī’ti: evañhi te, rāhula, sikkhitabbaṃ.

Ñāṇamoli:
“Therefore, Rāhula, you should train thus: ‘I will not utter a falsehood even as a joke.’”

I.B. Horner:
“Wherefore, for you, Rāhula, ‘I will not speak a lie, even for fun’ – this is how you must train yourself, Rāhula.”

The scope of hassā musā is somewhat narrower than its usual English translations might seem to suggest. It would include such acts as falsely telling someone that she has a bug crawling in her hair or knowingly sending someone on a fruitless errand. It wouldn’t include telling jokes in the sense of funny fictional anecdotes with a punchline, whose fictional character is implicitly understood by speaker and audience.
(http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... ka#p326713" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;)

Rahula was a monastic member, I believe, then he should naturally followed the original Vinaya i.e. understanding of lie is irrelevant as opposed to followed commentary. Do you think all requirements have to be fulfilled in order to break a precept or not?
As written above, if a mere effort is considered a breach for monastic member then why telling a lie as a joke (It wouldn’t include telling jokes in the sense of funny fictional anecdotes with a punchline, whose fictional character is implicitly understood by speaker and audience) is not a considered breaching the precept? We know Rahula was a monk and Buddha gave this advice to him as a monk.

On Pg.245:
Also, outrageous lies meant as jokes—to amuse rather than to deceive—would fall under this rule as well (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... o/bmc1.pdf)

Can you please respond, Bhante Dhammanando? Thanks.

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samseva
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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by samseva » Sun Apr 03, 2016 1:15 pm

D1W1 wrote:Sorry for the late reply.
So does it mean when a Bhikkhu breaches Sanghadisesa 9 or 8, he is automatically breaches Pacittiya (lying)? I am yet to receive an answer from a monastic whether a mere effort is considered lie or not, will post it here. Other monastic members in this forum is more than welcome to give a response. I just couldn't make it make sense how an effort considered a lie except it's an unwholesome mind activity.
Yes, I think so. However, being that a Saṅghādisesa is a relatively grave offense, the Pācittiya doesn't add much to the situation.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by samseva » Sun Apr 03, 2016 1:27 pm

D1W1 wrote:...
The Vinaya rules and the Suttas are two different things. Even the precepts and the Vinaya are two different things as well. The former are moral values while the latter is a set of rules in part to ensure communal harmony (which could in part explain the short section of the rule regarding outrageous jokes).

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Mon Apr 04, 2016 5:23 am

samseva wrote:
D1W1 wrote:...
The Vinaya rules and the Suttas are two different things. Even the precepts and the Vinaya are two different things as well. The former are moral values while the latter is a set of rules in part to ensure communal harmony (which could in part explain the short section of the rule regarding outrageous jokes).
Maybe, but they are not supposed to contradict each other, aren't they?
In the Bhante Dhammanando's previous reply, he said telling fictional character as a joke is not considered a lie because it is understood by audience. I'm wondering if we can find "understood by audience" in the Sutta or Precept or even Vinaya?

Is Bhante still around :shrug: ?

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by samseva » Mon Apr 04, 2016 2:06 pm

D1W1 wrote:Maybe, but they are not supposed to contradict each other, aren't they?
In the Bhante Dhammanando's previous reply, he said telling fictional character as a joke is not considered a lie because it is understood by audience. I'm wondering if we can find "understood by audience" in the Sutta or Precept or even Vinaya?

Is Bhante still around :shrug: ?
No, the Vinaya doesn't necessarily contradict itself. It is simply that to cover all possible actions of an individual (even actions of the mind) is near impossible, therefore there are many nuances, exceptions, variations and so on to take into account. Also, what is considered a lie (or regarding any other topic), taking into consideration at what point something becomes a lie (or another action), for a bhikkhu, is very different.

Morally, portraying a fictional character maybe isn't a lie (although, according to the Tālapuṭa Sutta, things aren't very promising). Even if it wouldn't be a lie, it could be considered a lie and/or an offense in the Vinaya (I don't know for sure, I would have to check).

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Tue Apr 05, 2016 10:30 am

samseva wrote:
D1W1 wrote:Maybe, but they are not supposed to contradict each other, aren't they?
In the Bhante Dhammanando's previous reply, he said telling fictional character as a joke is not considered a lie because it is understood by audience. I'm wondering if we can find "understood by audience" in the Sutta or Precept or even Vinaya?

Is Bhante still around :shrug: ?
No, the Vinaya doesn't necessarily contradict itself. It is simply that to cover all possible actions of an individual (even actions of the mind) is near impossible, therefore there are many nuances, exceptions, variations and so on to take into account. Also, what is considered a lie (or regarding any other topic), taking into consideration at what point something becomes a lie (or another action), for a bhikkhu, is very different.

But a monastic member I asked before was not agree with what is considered lie as mentioned in the Vinaya translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. I think that would be unwholesome mind activity but lie is another thing, IMO. Lying is not exclusively owned by monastic members or lay people, a lay person can lie, which is musavada, the same thing as a monastic member.
samseva wrote: Morally, portraying a fictional character maybe isn't a lie (although, according to the Tālapuṭa Sutta, things aren't very promising). Even if it wouldn't be a lie, it could be considered a lie and/or an offense in the Vinaya (I don't know for sure, I would have to check).
That's why I'm not sure how did Bhante Dhammanando come to that conclusion.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by samseva » Tue Apr 05, 2016 11:16 pm

D1W1 wrote:That's why I'm not sure how did Bhante Dhammanando come to that conclusion.
Well, the Sutta is about actors in the time of the Buddha, which had to do with stage shows, not too far from debauchery. The Buddha talks about actors that are intoxicated and heedless, with passion and relatively strong defilements. With the last part, he talks about actors that have wrong view regarding their next rebirth. There is some difference with today's actors, in movies and in theater, compared to those of the time of the Buddha.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by D1W1 » Fri Apr 08, 2016 5:28 am

samseva wrote:
D1W1 wrote:That's why I'm not sure how did Bhante Dhammanando come to that conclusion.
Well, the Sutta is about actors in the time of the Buddha, which had to do with stage shows, not too far from debauchery. The Buddha talks about actors that are intoxicated and heedless, with passion and relatively strong defilements. With the last part, he talks about actors that have wrong view regarding their next rebirth. There is some difference with today's actors, in movies and in theater, compared to those of the time of the Buddha.
Just like any other thing, not everything remains the same. For example, in the Buddha time, most people probably kill animal using knife or other sharp tools. But in modern days, those who work in slaughterhouse may not kill animal in exactly in the same fashion but that doesn't mean they do not engage in killing activity. I think the same thing with actor.
Any beings who are not devoid of passion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of passion, focus with even more passion on things inspiring passion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Any beings who are not devoid of aversion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of aversion, focus with even more aversion on things inspiring aversion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Any beings who are not devoid of delusion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of delusion, focus with even more delusion on things inspiring delusion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Thus the actor — himself intoxicated & heedless, having made others intoxicated & heedless — with the breakup of the body, after death, is reborn in what is called the hell of laughter.
I think the actor doesn't have to be on stage in order to make other people focus with even more passion, aversion or delusion.

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by samseva » Tue Apr 12, 2016 5:09 pm

D1W1 wrote:Just like any other thing, not everything remains the same. For example, in the Buddha time, most people probably kill animal using knife or other sharp tools. But in modern days, those who work in slaughterhouse may not kill animal in exactly in the same fashion but that doesn't mean they do not engage in killing activity. I think the same thing with actor.
No, the comparison doesn’t really work. What you describe is the method of killing being different. If you use the same comparison, it would be like the debauchery circus-like shows being broadcasted on television rather than in a theatre or somewhere outside and surrounded by a crowd. The difference between a well-made documentary-like fictional movie from these days, compared with festival theatre shows in the time of the Buddha is in large part, in content and intentions, not only in the method. It would be a bit like hate-filled murder compared to killing an animal for food (not that festival theatre is any close to hate-filled murder though).

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by iHappy » Thu Apr 14, 2016 5:29 pm

Dennenappelmoes wrote:I am very much a fan of Ajahn Brahm when it comes to this. In all of his talks that listened to (and there were many) he never mentioned "honesty" (in the sense of speaking factual correctness). He always talks about skillful speech. Also, he stresses that to him, the definition of truth is that which brings peace and harmony. If something leads to argument, to disagreement, to division, how can it be true? Following this argument, saying "you don't look fat in that at all" can be 'true'/skilfull even when it isn't a factual truth.

To me, I tend to focus on what the speech causes. If someone was nervous about doing something and then asks "did I do ok?" when they didn't, I may well say "yes" because this conveys that I have confidence in them, which is the truth, whereas saying "no" would convey that I did not have confidence in them, which would be false. However, this is a slippery slope and the way I see it, it needs to be balanced with humble, honest personal reflection to ensure the intention wasn't to deceive, just as the others have mentioned.

But the best advice is to just always eat pasta with sauce, you avoid the problem and it's much healthier and less gross as well! :namaste:
This was a very helpful comment and I want to thank you for it :) :twothumbsup:

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Re: Understanding the fourth precept

Post by DNS » Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:10 am

Mod note:
I have merged some of the very similar topics on the 4th precept into this one big one. And reminder once again to keep the posts to the issues, no name calling of one side as fundamentalists, etc or the other side as slanderers of the Buddha, etc.

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