white lies

white lies

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue May 21, 2013 8:13 pm

White lies..i've had to tell a couple in the recent past, one was completely not ok, and was completely self-serving but I did not catch myself doing it, and trying to "rectify" the situation wasn't really possible.

More recently, I told one which one on level I feel might have been strictly necessary to avoid a worse situation, or might not. Basically it comes down to whether or not I trust a person to not freak and misinterpret the truth, then take a destructive action based on it....honestly in this situation I can see huge pros and cons for both the lie I told, and for telling the truth.

On the one hand nothing is directly affected (that I can see, obviously, Karma that I can't see is another thing) by the lie other than the fact that by default I am assuming a person will overreact to something, and perhaps acting with a lack of trust in that sense. If I told the truth, it might be accepted, or this person might completely overreact and cause loads of trouble for not just me, but my family.

What is your inclination?

Anyway, these are not "big lies", they are sort of small omissions and alterations made to avoid conflict. They don't happen often, but when they do I usually know I am simply wrong and need to pay more attention to my behavior, and figure out ways to both speak the truth, and avoid conflict - harder obviously. In this case i'm not sure at all.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2409
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA

Re: white lies

Postby Nilasarasvati » Tue May 21, 2013 8:18 pm

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche told a Chinese student that...especially when it comes to family, lying can be the only compassionate recourse when you have to pacify intractable, difficult people. Of course he emphasized aspiration with that.
User avatar
Nilasarasvati
 
Posts: 428
Joined: Tue May 07, 2013 3:08 am
Location: Trāyastriṃśa. Just kidding. What a cool sanksrit word, huh?

Re: white lies

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue May 21, 2013 10:12 pm

guarding the truth.
.
.
.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
 
Posts: 2845
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: white lies

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue May 21, 2013 10:48 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:guarding the truth.
.
.
.



Explain more.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2409
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA

Re: white lies

Postby Jainarayan » Tue May 21, 2013 11:33 pm

I think if telling the truth will cause someone pain it is better to not tell the truth.
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
User avatar
Jainarayan
 
Posts: 284
Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:23 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: white lies

Postby Kim O'Hara » Wed May 22, 2013 3:44 am

Jainarayan wrote:I think if telling the truth will cause someone pain it is better to not tell the truth.

Hi, Jainarayan,
I think that is way too broad. For instance, if you tell someone they are overweight it will cause them pain, but if you don't then they may do nothing about their eating habits and suffer diabetes, heart problems, etc.
For me, balancing the long-term benefits and drawbacks of each choice (truth or lie or say nothing) as well as I can (knowing that won't be perfect) is the ethical, compassionate way to go. In the work or family context, where you are stuck with people for the foreseeable future, the long-term interpersonal relationships are often more important to peace and happiness than the facts of a trivial issue.

If in doubt, I will generally say nothing. If in doubt and not allowed to say nothing, I will speak the truth ... unless I wimp out. :emb:

:namaste:
Kim
User avatar
Kim O'Hara
 
Posts: 792
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:09 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: white lies

Postby Ayu » Wed May 22, 2013 7:45 am

If one tells lies the consequence is that his words have no weight in the future. So, it is possible to tell a lie in order to protect somebody, but one has to live with the consequences.

One often has to ponder and to choose the smaller evel, because it is not always possible to do the right thing.

For example: i saw somebody trying to cheat another person. He tried to befriend her by using lies. Now i could choose: don't bother and let him lie, or tell her to be careful. The first choice has a lack of compassion, the second choice means wrong speech. So i choose wrong speech in order to protect her from harm.... I couldn't do anything that would have been completely right in this situation.
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
From 10th of 37 Bodhisattva Practices
User avatar
Ayu
 
Posts: 950
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:25 am
Location: Europe

Re: white lies

Postby Jainarayan » Wed May 22, 2013 3:00 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:I think that is way too broad. For instance, if you tell someone they are overweight it will cause them pain, but if you don't then they may do nothing about their eating habits and suffer diabetes, heart problems, etc.


I understand what you are saying, it is broad and you have a point, but is it really our place to make a personal judgment like that? Especially if the advice was unsolicited by the overweight person. Perhaps the person is working on their health. I don't think it is a lie to not say anything if the advice was unsolicited. In that case I don't believe there is any lie... overt or by omission. It' simply rude to make a personal judgment or personal comment. If the person asked me what I thought, I'd try to be as tactful as I could in giving what advice I know I could give. This is my opinion only, having been on the receiving end of it; the other person had no idea what my situation really was. ;)
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
User avatar
Jainarayan
 
Posts: 284
Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:23 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: white lies

Postby lobster » Wed May 22, 2013 5:04 pm

Nilasarasvati wrote:Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche told a Chinese student that...especially when it comes to family, lying can be the only compassionate recourse when you have to pacify intractable, difficult people. Of course he emphasized aspiration with that.


Good on that Rinpoche . . .
People on the spiritual path you can be honest with. Advanced people you can be brutally honest with. Family, friends and the dharma queens, you have to provide for their expectations. They lie to themselves, like to dream - just plump the pillows and provide a warm blanket . . .

It is a question of knowing what to do, when and with who . . . that takes discernment and wisdom. It is not compassionate to mix our unskilfulness with the requirements of others. Always telling the truth is the mark of the self righteous . . . :namaste:
User avatar
lobster
 
Posts: 951
Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:06 pm

Re: white lies

Postby mandala » Wed May 22, 2013 5:18 pm

I'm going to go hard-line with this one... a lie is a lie is a lie ... there's no 'white', 'small', 'big'... there is no lie that genuinely helps anyone, especially yourself.

People always use the example of, but what if the truth will upset someone? Well, you still don't have to lie. You can simply NOT say the harmful thing. Or you can consider the way you say the truth. Or you can keep quiet or change the subject.
Similarly, being truthful is NOT an excuse to blurb out mean and nasty comments willy-nilly. They are both extreme justifications.

Frankly, most of the time when we say we lie to protect others, it's actually to protect OURSELVES from getting into an uncomfortable situation. We want to keep things nicey nice and not have people see us in a negative light,or to avoid confrontation, or maybe just save time, right?

So.. what happened to our vow of 'no lying'? I wonder why it's the vow we feel justified the most to break, or 'bend' as it suits?
I mean, I know it's hard though.. and it's difficult to stop & consider alternatives sometimes because it's convenient & even seemingly polite.

On the flip side, I dont think there is anyone who says they enjoy being lied to. It's a betrayal, it's hurtful.. it's another assuming you don't have a right to know the truth... and i'd say mostly (from my experience anyhow) that's because we just don't want to deal with their reaction.

The Buddha seems to deal with this in terms of when to speak what's true.. I don't think I've ever seen anything regarding when it's ok to lie, even when it pleases someone (#4).

From the Abhaya Sutra -
[1] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial (or: not connected with the goal), unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

[2] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

[3] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing & disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.

[4] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.

[5] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.

[6] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, and endearing & agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. Why is that? Because the Tathagata has sympathy for living beings."



I reckon the main thing I find helpful is that considering options for when to/how to speak the truth, has plenty more opportunities than bringing the worry of telling lies into the picture. Lying's just more potential pain for ourselves and for others.
And when a porky slips out of my mouth, I think.. 'oh that was crap' & ponder the karma of having others lie to me, and try to monitor my big mouth more carefully..
User avatar
mandala
 
Posts: 171
Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:51 pm

Re: white lies

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed May 22, 2013 6:46 pm

Hmm, that doesn't really help me at all. I'm not trying to establish whether lying is ok itself, I know it's always bad karma, just trying to figure out criteria for when it's reasonable to just take the bad Karma from doing it, based on wanting less suffering for others, and/or oneself - part of the issue, with a family it's sometimes hard to distinguish the two.

If you have kids this whole question will make more sense to you framed that way, there are all kinds of avenues with kids, other parents etc. where the truth is..packaged somewhat for harmony, it's very hard to figure out what is the right decision some times. Complete truth would lead to crazy kids and other things.

I think this is one of the things that makes the renunciate life what it is, having a family will naturally put one in awkward positions like this.

Frankly, most of the time when we say we lie to protect others, it's actually to protect OURSELVES from getting into an uncomfortable situation. We want to keep things nicey nice and not have people see us in a negative light,or to avoid confrontation, or maybe just save time, right?


How do we measure when this is so. It's one thing to lie to avoid interpersonal conflict, another to tell a lie when it avoids possible prolonged interpersonal conflict for others, so while I think you have a point, i'm not sure it's as cut and dried as that.

I reckon the main thing I find helpful is that considering options for when to/how to speak the truth, has plenty more opportunities than bringing the worry of telling lies into the picture. Lying's just more potential pain for ourselves and for others.
And when a porky slips out of my mouth, I think.. 'oh that was crap' & ponder the karma of having others lie to me, and try to monitor my big mouth more carefully..


That's exactly what I try to do...there used to circumstances where it would happen and they easy to curtail because it was things like mild exaggeration for the purpose of self aggrandizement etc., things where it is easy to know one is wrong. This is not like that, this is lying or avoiding the truth to avoid possibly really shitty situation for myself and my family. I have no idea of knowing whether what I perceive as a threat would happen, but if it did it would be summarily awful, and last for a while as well...much harder to decision to make than just watching oneself.

Ayu..."It is not always possible to do the right thing" completely sums up what I am feeling!

One thing this has made me ponder though, in some of these situations if I went two or three steps back, I could have avoided (possibly) the situation that made it necessary to withhold the truth anyway, and while I had no way of knowing at the time, that seems worth thinking about.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2409
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA

Re: white lies

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed May 22, 2013 8:46 pm

Update, well I went ahead and confessed my lie.

Turns out I was totally wrong about this persons' reaction. Lesson learned, I have the bad Karma, but at least now I acted with a sense of trust and cleared the air, felt good..hopefully lesson learned for the future, seems to come down to my assumption that people are worse than they often are..

Thanks to everyone for the advice, it really helped me make the decision.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2409
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA

Re: white lies

Postby mandala » Thu May 23, 2013 12:34 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Update, well I went ahead and confessed my lie.

Turns out I was totally wrong about this persons' reaction. Lesson learned, I have the bad Karma, but at least now I acted with a sense of trust and cleared the air, felt good..hopefully lesson learned for the future, seems to come down to my assumption that people are worse than they often are..

Thanks to everyone for the advice, it really helped me make the decision.


Excellent, good for you! Glad to hear it went well.
User avatar
mandala
 
Posts: 171
Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:51 pm

Re: white lies

Postby ball-of-string » Thu May 23, 2013 5:02 pm

There is one situation when I think lying is appropriate: when faced with "stranger danger", i.e. I have the perception that my safety is potentially in jeopardy. I am walking down a dark alley in a dodgy part of town, and a stranger asks if I am alone. "No, I have friends waiting for me up ahead, or trailing behind."

There are consequences for white lies, main one being that people don't trust your word about important stuff. I think on some "less than conscious" level, we all know when someone is lying to us, and that act creates a disconnect in our relationships. If someone's feelings could be potentially hurt, I give them the gift of informed consent, e.g. "I will answer your question, but I'm not sure you will like my answer. Do you still want to know?" I also say, "I prefer not to talk about that," which is my pat answer when friends' children ask me about Santa Claus or religion.
ball-of-string
 
Posts: 101
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:05 am

Re: white lies

Postby corrine » Sun Jun 23, 2013 6:21 pm

Lying may always be bad or maybe it is not, but sometimes truth telling is used a weapon to seriously hurt and injure others. There are many with sadistic tendencies who love to use the truth to hurt and wound and, in some cases, to destroy others. So while lying may be bad, truth telling can be evil. Motives matter. The results of our truth telling, matters. And there is a huge difference between lying and keeping our mouths shut, particularly in instances that are none of our business.

One example. You 'believe' your best friend's wife is cheating on him. Truth telling requires you to tell him. His marriage breaks up. His kids now come from a broken home. And, what if, you were wrong. Things are not always as they seem but when a 'truth' gets out there, it is sometimes impossible to undo.

Another example. I have never met an overweight person who did not know what their problem is. Pointing it out to them can well depress and upset them enough that they go to their favorite comfort food and exacerbate the problem. Instead, maybe you might help them by setting a very good example. No shoving their nose in their faults.

I have found that many questions do not need to be answered and unless I am sure, beyond any doubt, of an answer, I do not interfere. And my opinion may be my 'truth' but actual truth may be something completely different. I think everyone should be very thin for health reasons, but it has been pointed out to me that the very thin live a shorter life. So my truth is wrong. It is still my truth. But not 'the truth'. So be careful about certainty.

When I was young, I knew a lot of truths. I was sure and certain and very opinionated. I believed that I knew what was best for everyone and when asked my opinion or asked what I believed was the truth about something, I readily gave my position. Looking back, how often I was wrong. I wonder how much damage that egoistic certainty had caused.

Now I am much more circumspect. I am careful. I know that I do not always know, even though I believe I know. I would suggest, gently, that the best path sometimes is the mind your own business and stop making judgements, path. Just because we believe we know the absolute truth, do we?

corrine :namaste:
corrine
 
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 5:27 pm

Re: white lies

Postby Hickersonia » Sun Jun 23, 2013 10:50 pm

Corrine,

I don't know if your examples about the overweight person or the cheating spouse apply really well...

In one case you are talking about what someone believes (but does not know by direct knowledge), and I think a reasonable person can tell the difference. Yeah, I am assuming anyone concerned with thisop receipt has, or is practing, a certain level do discernment. In the other case, you imply (intentionally or unintentionally) that being truthful means that you would have to tell them something when they arent asking.

As far as I am concerned, my personal choice is to apply the training rule strictly. I won't pretend I don't fail from time to time, but when I do my choice leaves no room for equivocation or justification after the fact.
Hickersonia
http://hickersonia.wordpress.com/


"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of
throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned."

Nam mô A di đà Phật!
User avatar
Hickersonia
 
Posts: 98
Joined: Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:23 am
Location: Cincinnati, OH

Re: white lies

Postby lobster » Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:45 am

corrine wrote:Lying may always be bad or maybe it is not, but sometimes truth telling is used a weapon to seriously hurt and injure others. There are many with sadistic tendencies who love to use the truth to hurt and wound and, in some cases, to destroy others. So while lying may be bad, truth telling can be evil. Motives matter. The results of our truth telling, matters. And there is a huge difference between lying and keeping our mouths shut, particularly in instances that are none of our business.


Examining motives and intent is key.
There is little we can do about the self righteous, the morally superior and the immature. The real world teaches us the reason for feints, avoidance, confrontation, truth and its consequences, lies and it's consequences.
Black truth. White lies.
The Middle way? :meditate:
User avatar
lobster
 
Posts: 951
Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:06 pm

Re: white lies

Postby Ayu » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:48 am

corrine wrote:...There are many with sadistic tendencies who love to use the truth to hurt and wound and, in some cases, to destroy others. So while lying may be bad, truth telling can be evil. Motives matter. The results of our truth telling, matters. And there is a huge difference between lying and keeping our mouths shut,...

Yes. Some people never met these persons "with sadistic tendencies", so they may not understand - but i know very well what you are talking about. Somebody like this was able to make me sick with words within one hour.
And your point, that 'truth' has many sides, advantages & disadvantages, is right.
If somebody is forced to speak out a hurting truth, he should be filled with natural, real compassion.
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
From 10th of 37 Bodhisattva Practices
User avatar
Ayu
 
Posts: 950
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:25 am
Location: Europe

Re: white lies

Postby lobster » Tue Jun 25, 2013 11:20 am

The important thing is to have compassion for the ignorant, deluded and well meaning. For example many of us are familiar with the levels and deepening of practice and wisdom. We look at at a teaching and wonder how can it be true. Eventually we may wonder how can it be untrue and eventually we may just wonder . . . :popcorn:

Intentional and volitional lies are based on ignorance. We are always in a condition of ignorance, it is why we have compassion for the liars, the unskilful and the unkind. Parts of us, no matter how skilful, are still lying, still snoozing :zzz:

Be kind. Take it to the next level. :meditate:
User avatar
lobster
 
Posts: 951
Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:06 pm

Re: white lies

Postby Simon E. » Tue Jun 25, 2013 11:49 am

So that's quite a list of people to be concerned about lobster.

From your replies on this thread.
" Drama queens "
" The self righteous "
" liars "
" the ignorant "
" the deluded "
" the unkind "
" The unskillful "
" the morally superior " ( ! ) and
" the immature "..

Any one else ? Wouldn't want anyone to feel left out.
Particularly me. I am at times all of those and more.
Simon E.
 
Posts: 2543
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Next

Return to Help Required

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

>