Refrain from incorrect speech. Am I breaking it?

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    • #26183

      I am going through few scenarios that I encounter in my life. I want to understand if I am breaking the precept of “refrain from incorrect speech”.

      Scenario 1: My superior os someone in higher position at work, asks me about my relationship and family status. To avoid further conversations on the topic, I usually say the things they want to hear or something that is untrue. Mostly those are personal questions and the person who is asking may not have any bad intentions.

      Scenario 2: I am trying to follow five precepts in recent months and I am not drinking lately. Most people ask me why I am not drinking. Usually I say it is just temporary but I don’t give out exact reasons for it –again to avoid further conversations and reveal additional details (which I think are private). The scenario could also be about change in diet etc.

      Scenario 3: When someone asks how much I earn. While I would share that information, I am worried about expectations –so I usually avoid giving right answer or the answer they are seeking (so as to not hurt them).

      Scenario 4: I am looking for a job/position change actively. When my colleagues or superiors ask me about it, I don’t say what is true.

      Scenario 5: I am trying to create an account on some website. I am asked to enter my date of birth. I don’t provide exact date of birth.

      I am probably breaking the precepts in these scenarios –what is the right approach in the above scenarios. What attitude should I keep?

    • #26186

      EDIT: I want to point out an important drawback of lying that people often overlook.
      Each time you lie your mind will become more and more heavy because of burdens, this tremendously affect the quality of your life, as well as the high chance of rebirth in lower realm in next life, because a heavy mind will drag you down.
      If you tell lies after lies, you have to remember which person you lied to, and the content of that lie, to stay consistent next time you meet them. And ordinary human being often have poor memory, and just a small slip can destroy your whole image, or even your life. Try to think about these burdens can be totally abandon if you always speak the truth and stay true to yourself, or in another word – integrity.

      Scenario 1: You should avoid lying under any circumstance. In this case, how about just say “I don’t want to tell you about my personal things” or something similar. Having integrity is always better for us in the long run. In my personal experience, I always stay upright and being true to myself even at work, and my bosses know that and they won’t messing around with me. But If the worst thing happen then I just simply leave and find another job, any job that not violate Right Livelihood is good enough for me, I just need enough to sustain my body and my family. Having this attitude allow you to not be afraid under social pressure and give you energy to stay upright under harsh circumstances.

      Scenario 2: In my case, I just simply say to them “I don’t drink”, as they ask me further, I just say “It’s personal reason”, and overtime, they gradually not focus on me any more. I think this is a good respond, you may not want to boasting about your precepts, but you also may not want to lie. If anyone really interested in the reason why I don’t drink then it is a opportunity for me to introduce them about the benefits of five precepts.

      Scenario 3: I often tell them about my earning if asked, but if you don’t want to tell just say so, there is no need to wiggling around, this is also for practicing integrity.

      Scenario 4: Again, just say what is true, or if you don’t want to say just remain silent or say “I don’t want to tell you about this information.”

      Scenario 5: I’m a web developer, I don’t recall having seen any case in which your DoB on a online forum be used against you. But I also recommend hiding your DoB on social media platforms because hackers may exploits your information to build a dictionary and then brute-force your password if they desire. But I guess we are not celebrity so this problem is not really a problem. So my advice is just stay true to ourselves, we need every opportunity to practice truthfulness and from the very small things such as these, we build up our integrity.

      The precepts need to be kept spotless and stainless, without any excuses if you want to proceed further on the Path. In many suttas the Buddha teaches about the qualities of a Stream-enterer (Sotapanna), one of them is spotless ethical conduct, praised by the wises.

      Furthermore, having integrity is essential to even starting to walk the Path, the Buddha advised his son to not tell lies even just for a joke, you can see the seriousness in always staying truthful.

      But to have a degree of faith enough to undertake the practice of integrity, you need to first learn about the Buddha’s teachings, develop Right View and gradually apply the Dhamma into your daily life. One of the most important views is the view about rebirth and kamma, you should contemplate on this, to leave no crack/hold for the tendencies to make excuses sneak through.

    • #26190

      This is a good topic to discuss.

      Both PBR and Tien are stating their views as “they abide by them.”
      – In fact, I think one needs to decide, based on one’s own situation, whether a statement that one is about to make is a “musāvāda” or not.
      – Sometimes, a “lie’ is not a “musāvāda.’

      In ALL CASES, what really matters is one’s INTENTION. The following example can illustrate the point.

      10. During the Nazi terror in Germany, many Germans “lied” to the Nazis that they were not hiding Jews in their houses; of course the intention was to save human lives and thus it was the right thing to do. They acquired good kamma for protecting lives.

      We need to realize that “lying” — as meant in as “musāvāda” in the five precepts — really means the “intention” involved: “Musā” means “wrong or incompatible with morals” and “vāda means “speech”; see, “What is Intention in Kamma?“.
      Therefore, even though they were literally lying, their intention was not a “musāvāda“, but actually a “good deed”.

      The above is #10 in the post, “Right Speech – How to Avoid Accumulating Kamma.”

    • #26192

      @Tien, your responses are helpful. Lying definitely burdens one’s mind, especially when one is conscious that one is breaking precepts.

      The above link “Right Speech – How to Avoid Accumulating Kamma.” is a good reference for me.

      I realized that in most cases I could have just said “its personal” and that should have sufficed. However, my responses are muddled because of the person I was responding to and the situation I was in. In superior case, he was an elderly person and he is asking personal information in front of his sub-ordinates and my peers. It would have been blunt and rude for me to say “its personal”. In alcohol case, again I was in a social situation and one of my peer was asking in front of other colleagues.

      In terms of intentions, it appears that I have an internal conflict between two values: respecting others (elders for sure; due to the culture I grew up in) vs saying absolute truth. My responses were muddled (or half-baked) because I was trying to be respectful and say the truth to the possible extent while cutting down further conversations on the subject (to avoid further [white] lies).

    • #26198
      y not

      I understand it is not always easy to just say ‘It’s a personal matter’ because of the given situation/s and also the person/s addressed.

      However, if you train yourself to be ever mindful of the consequences – in the short term, the convenience of ‘escaping with a lie’ on the one side, and, in the longer term, the benefits of keeping the precepts, on the other, you will find that in time you will become unable to lie; contemplating lying, even, will become impossible – whatever the benefits in the shorter term, whatever you have to suffer because of it all.

      There is a sutta where one laywoman (or bhikkhuni – the text does not specify, if I remember correctly) was born in a deva world just because she always told the truth. Now this does not mean that one should keep the precepts with a deva existence as the Goal. The Goal is always Nibbana. But it is much better to be reborn a deva than a human , to say nothing of the lower realms (where lying could lead to). In the case that the woman (lay or bhikkhuni) was on the Path, she would strive on from there, seeing that she had not attained the Arahanthood here. In case she was not, even then, a higher existence is better than a lower one. So the long-term benefits in either case far outweigh those in the shorter term ,in the here-and-now.

      The Buddha did not shudder to give stark examples of the consequences of breaking the precepts. In one particular sutta – He was here talking about another of the precepts, that of sexual misconduct- He asked the bhikkhus what they would prefer: lying down (engaging in sexual activity, we would now say) with a daughter of aristocrats or brahmins or householders or being subjected to any of a whole series of excruciating torture procedures? Even reading the account is terrifying! By the time His discourse was over, 60 bhikkhus spewed hot blood, another 60 abandoned the Training and another 60 became Arahants

    • #26199
      y not

      I had forgotten that the sutta I referred to in the last para above (an7.72/en/sujato) only starts off with sexual misconduct. It lists other forms of unethical conduct that may be indulged in by the bhikkhus. Please pardon this slip of mine.

      Incidentally, should the doubt arise whether the Buddha was the cause of the falling away of 60 bhikkhus and of the death of 60 others by giving that discourse, the Arahant Nagasena dispels those doubts in the dialogue mil5.3.2/en/tw_rhysdavids. It is a kind of commentary on that sutta.

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