andyn wrote:I've learned that the Buddha only has "No lying" as the precept for lay person, how come when it comes down to Chinese tradition, there were three more factors (No double-tongued speech, No abusive speech, and No frivolous speech) added to the 4th precept?
There are the five basic precepts which include a precept against lying. What you are referring to is the path of ten virtuous karmas (Skt. daśa-kuśala-karma-patha) which are refraining from ten non-virtuous activities as follows:
1. 不殺生 not killing
2. 不偸盜 not stealing
3 不邪淫 not committing sexual misconduct
4. 不妄語 not lying
5. 不惡口 not speaking harshly
6. 不兩舌 not speaking divisively
7. 不綺語 not speaking idly
8. 不貪欲 not craving
9. 不瞋恚 not becoming angry
10. 不邪見 not holding wrong views
These ten form the fundamental discipline and morality for all Buddhist practitioners. Chinese traditions may use this list in further explaining the five lay precepts or even monastic rules.
But one book by Master Sheng Yen defines "cracking jokes and unbenificial talk" as this category, and he said that with four friends meeting, laughing and joking, they are sure to have committed in the breaking of this precept if they have received the five precepts.
The idea is that nonsensical speech is a waste of time and misleads people away from what they should be doing. However, almost every monk or nun you'll ever meet will probably joke around. This can be beneficial in that it creates both fellowship and a sense of ease and friendship in the community, however joking about engaging in non-virtuous activities and gossiping about others is not beneficial, so it is best avoided.
I've noticed that "frivolous speech" is defined by the Buddha as being unwholesome, but in a sense that if you do harm to other (such as spreading gossip behind other people, or to manipulate others to your advantage, etc), but for a lay person, cracking jokes or having casual discussion of sports, entertainment should be OK... I don't like the idea that such casual conversation is considered "breaking a precept", that ought to be for the monastery environment.
You'll find most monastics are not
stoic types who seldom engage in unnecessary conversation.
Casual conversation about the weather or news is one thing (it might even be beneficial to know these things), but discussing at length the faults of others, revenge or questionable activities will only lead to harm and should be avoided.
Speech is a very powerful force. It can literally move mountains when utilized by the right person. What we say often leads to physical action and decisions are made based on what has been said. This is why we must guard our speech. You will do more harm than good if you speak nonsense. You will benefit yourself and others if you speak of virtues, generosity, right views and the virtuous qualities of others.
To actually carry this out is something else. We are so habitually conditioned to speak nonsense and use our speech in non-virtuous ways, whether we recognize this or not. This is why cultivation of mindfulness via meditation is essential. When you sense what you are saying or about to say is pure nonsense that will only harm others or lead them away from virtue you cease it at once.
For lay regular people who have family and friends, I felt that is such a heavy burden... since the only way to not break this precept is to not socialize at all, even to your family member. Is the precept that strict?
Precepts are a means to an end. The spirit behind all of them is to do no harm to others or to yourself. The whole point of discipline is to restrain oneself from harming others and fostering conditions which only lead to suffering, both for oneself and others.
Just examine your speech and ask if it is beneficial or not. If you know it might harm others, then cease speaking.