By Nhat Quan
Lying is one of the five precepts of lay Buddhists. For lay people, the Buddha advised to keep the five precepts that are:
1- Do not kill;
2- Do not steal;
3- Do not commit adultery;
4- Don't lie
5- Do not drink alcohol and use intoxicating substances.
Precepts are barriers to prevent bad deeds of the body (deeds), mouth (speech), and mind (thoughts). The five precepts are the five strongholds that prevent you from going down the evil path, the five barriers that prevent you from falling into the abyss of sin, and the good retribution in the future. The five precepts not only lead you straight on the way to liberation from the cycle of birth and death, and freedom from suffering, but also bring order, happiness, and peace to your family, country, and society. Of the five precepts, the fourth precept is not to lie, which has four areas.
1. Do not lie:
Not lying is always being honest, and telling the truth. The Buddha taught you, never to lie even for your own benefit, or someone else's, or for any benefit. You should avoid profanity. Do not say untruthful things, whether to say no or not to say yes. Do not slander or harm anyone. Especially those who study the Way, if you lie that you have attained Sainthood, or have attained Buddhahood in order to be admired and worshiped by others, you will be guilty of the great deceitful speech and fall into the three evil paths.
2. Don't say insults
Do not offend with harsh words, skewering, cursing, arrogant speech, harsh criticism, or rudeness. Words are a powerful tool that can be used for good or for evil. So you should speak gentle, kind words that are all virtuous, compassionate, and beneficial to all sentient beings, and everyone who hears them will be happy and respectful.
3- Do not embroider more or less
Avoid using evil language with malice. Do not say double-edged words, hit two heads, or make two people who are close friends become hateful, and hate each other. Therefore, you must not say sarcastic words, add or subtract, or say sarcastic words that make the listener sad and give rise to wrong thoughts. You must not induce others to say bad things. You do not mediate animosity between the two sides of hatred, the hatred of the two sides to fight. When you see other people saying such bad things, you must dissuade them not to say such things.
4- Don't say bullshit
Do not talk frivolous, meaningless, or dully as they disturb the peace of you and others. Talking behind someone's back is evil, regardless of whether what you say about that person is true or not.
Because of seeing the cruel retributions of lying karma, in the Sutra of Great Means of Buddha's Gratitude, the Buddha told Venerable Ananda:
- People are born in the world, and disaster is born in the mouth, so it is better to protect the mouth than strong fire. Because strong fire can burn only this one life, but as said evil will burn for innumerable kalpas. Fire burns only houses and worldly possessions, but evil speech burns up the seven possessions of the Saint. Therefore, Ananda, harm is born from the mouth of living beings, and the tongue is indeed a sharp hammer to strike at oneself, a disaster for self-destruction.
In the Avatamsaka Sutra, the Buddha taught:
- Disciples! You should give up lying, and always speak the truth, the word is sure, and even in a dream, you should not lie.
- Don't talk nonsense. You must keep your word. Speech must be truthful, timely, in accordance with the Dharma, and beneficial to oneself and others.
Speech must be timely, that is, it must be appropriate to the situation when speaking. This requires you to know who you are talking to. What situation are they in and what level of awareness do they have? Otherwise, even if the words are true, they will become meaningless. Therefore, the Buddha instructed the monks to know:
- Speak like the Dharma, be silent like the Dharma
There are many more teachings of the Buddha about not telling lies, as in Ekottarikagama the Buddha explained the 5 elements of a good speech in which it is stated that it is necessary, to tell the truth:
- A wise person who speaks a word must be based on the truth, without fallacies, without deception, and must speak words that bring benefit. Words must have a purpose and meaning, even if it is true, but it is not intended to benefit anyone, it is just nonsense, useless.
In the Madhyamagama Sutta, number 58, the Buddha replied to the Fearless Prince:
- Whatever speech the Tathagata knows is not true, does not correspond to the purpose, and which makes others dislike, the Tathagata does not say it.
In the Agama Sutra, the Buddha again taught:
- Mind and mouth are no different.
What the mind thinks, the mouth says. When the mouth often speaks well, the mind should think well. That way, you will be at peace, and you will be a true cultivator. On the contrary, if the mind thinks one thing, the mouth says another, the mouth speaks this way, the mind is not like that, regardless of appearance, it is a liar and a fake.
And in the Fourteen Commandments of the Buddha, content of this text is considered by many to have been extracted from ideas in the Buddhist scriptures. In the second commandment it says:
- The greatest ignorance in life is a lie.
Joking: Some people think that lying to deceive is not harmful. In fact, that lie is still harmful, because it makes you used to that bad habit, and makes people around you not believe in your words anymore, even though sometimes you tell the truth. In the Avatamsaka Sutta the Buddha taught:
- Disciples! You should give up meaningless words, often guarding your own words. Speaking must know the time, speaking must be in accordance with the law. Words that are not only beneficial to people, even if they are joking, but you also should not say them.
In the Last Teaching Sutra, the Buddha also taught:
- Don't care about the world. Do not spread rumors.
Because, worldly affairs, often stories, true and false self, do not know right and wrong, dispute more than lose, are often groundless, not authentic, unreliable, difficult to verify, and may damage the reputation of others. All of these things make people's minds restless, and wavering, only harmful, not helpful! You do not need, to waste time, in vain, to correct rumors, which are completely false. If circumstances are not required, clarify. There are also many other forms of lying, such as:
- Lie by silence: Sometimes you are asked a question and silence also implies an answer. If your silence reflects a falsehood, it is a lie. For example, a police officer, investigating a crime scene, asked the crowd standing around if anyone had seen anything. If anyone witnessed the murder but kept silent and said nothing, that silence was considered a lie.
- Lying in body language: Sometimes a shrug or frown can be misinterpreted as I don't know. But if you really know, your shrug is a lie. Language can also be expressed by the body, for example, when you raise your thumb, it's cheering, but if you raise your middle finger, it's cursed by, etc.
- Unfair accusations and perjury: are two other forms of lies that the Buddha advised his disciples to avoid because they would cause disaster to the speaker himself as well as those around him.
- Empty promises: The Buddha classifies people who are clever or make empty promises just to gain their own benefits as a form of lying. Or you have the ability to help others, but you give enough reasons to refuse, which is also a lie.
- Pretending: Pretending to give false information about qualifications, abilities, achievements, and virtues or exaggerate spiritual attainments in order to gain benefits that they themselves do not deserve to inherit. This impersonation is also a form of lying.
In fact, not lying is not limited to telling the truth, but also needs to:
- Avoid using slander to divide, or cause discord between one person and another, on the contrary, seek to bring harmony and understanding between people.
- Avoid using rude words to humiliate others, on the contrary, speak elegant, gentle, and polite words to comfort, encourage or convince others.
- Avoid useless gossip, must speak at the right time, reasonable and useful
However, there are also cases where the truth needs to be kept secret because telling it can harm others. Such is the practice of loving-kindness. Lying, only in the case of saving suffering and danger to people and animals, is not a crime. The Venerable Ones teach:
- Except for the case for the benefit of people and goods, you do not have the heart, to tell the truth, so that the person is harmed or suffering. Because of your kindness to save the savior, you will not commit a crime.
An example is when the Buddha told Mrs. Gotami that her dead child would be brought back to life. But in order to cure the baby, the Buddha told her to find and bring back a handful of mustard seeds from a family where no one had died. The Buddha used this untruth with good intention to delay speaking the truth. This method helped Mrs. Gotami gradually come to her senses and accept the death of her child.
Lies for the sake of means, but do not let the means detract from the original principle of truth. Talk about the cause and effect of truth. If you tell the truth, you will be rewarded for studying well and understanding the principles; understand the truth. And the liar will suffer the karma of not learning, and not understanding morality. When you understand morality, your wisdom will turn into the power of life, helping you to avoid wrong actions, and get rid of bad karma later. The power of life is decisive action. For when you know all too well which is wrong; Which is right in the hairline, seeing the cause and effect should definitely not do. Therefore, a Saint who lives truthfully and does not lie for many kalpas should be blessed with intelligence, wisdom, morality, and enlightenment of the Dharma. When you look at life, look at the mind of a saint, and you will see that they are as beautiful as a shining jewel. If you are lucky enough to meet and bow to that Saint, it will be a great happiness in your life.
Remember, truthful speech is one of the ten good deeds that practitioners not only benefit themselves but also contribute to building a virtuous society. To be orderly, society needs certain conditions, including mutual trust because everyone is honest. The following passage describes an honest person:
- Here a good man renounces falsehood, abstains from false speech, and speaks the truth. Whether in a proper meeting place, in the midst of a crowd, in a private home with relatives, in an office, or as a witness at a court... Thus, you will not be for yourself, not for anyone another, nor for a material gain that intentionally misrepresents the truth.
There are also cases when you speak honestly and politely but still touch the pride of others, making them unhappy. However, sometimes it is necessary, to tell the truth, even if it hurts, but it is beneficial. For a doctor who wants to treat a patient's wound, sometimes it is impossible not to cause the patient a little pain, because if the wound is not touched, it cannot be treated.
In another passage, the Buddha describes the words of a wise man with five conditions:
1- Speaking at the right time:
As you have seen above, sometimes a sincere word that is not said at the right time turns out to be useless or annoys others. A wise person must be tactful to apply your words in the right place at the right time.
2- In accordance with the truth:
A wise man who speaks a word must be based on the truth, without fallacies, without deceit.
3- Bring benefits:
Words must have a purpose and meaning to them, even if it is true speech but has no purpose to benefit anyone, it is also bullshit and useless.
4- Adapting to ethics:
It is ethical speech, which means it must be reasonable, and in accordance with the Dharma.
5- In line with ethics:
The value of a word depends on its moral character. If a word has all the above four elements but is not in accordance with the law or morality, it is still dangerous. Therefore, good speech must be both useful and honest, that is, it must be ethical as well.
Although you know that not telling lies has so many blessings, sometimes life is not as smooth as you think. Therefore, if someone still cheats to defame, the Buddhist attitude when being defamed and slandered should be:
1- Forbearance:
Learning to be patient means you despise the slander and curses that are common in the world. Even people of high morals and purity can be criticized, denigrated, slandered, etc. The Buddha himself was once vilified and slandered. Remember that in this world, no one can avoid being reprimanded, or criticized, and it is difficult to avoid the mouth of the world. In the future and in the present, there has not been a person who has been criticized by everyone or praised by everyone.
But because of being criticized, getting angry is extremely harmful, because when angry, you are no longer calm enough to control your behavior and language. When anger arises, it has the potential to destroy merit and peace of mind.
The Buddha advised:
- Give up anger, then defilements will not come to you.
The Dalai Lama advises:
- Thank your enemies, for they are your most important teachers. They train you to cope with suffering and develop patience, tolerance, and compassion. They do not wait for any response.
2- Mind Equanimity:
Before the 8 winds in the storms of life, in the midst of the ups and downs of the world, it makes people's hearts wobble.
- Success or failure,
- Win or lose,
- Praise or criticize,
- Happiness or suffering?
The Buddha taught Buddhists should always keep their mind calm and equanimous by practicing equanimity, they will be as solid as a big rock standing in the sky.
Also, the Buddha taught in the Dhammapala-jataka:
In happiness, in suffering, in ups and downs, you must keep your mind like the earth. Just like on the ground you can throw anything, whether sour or sweet, clean or dirty, the earth is still calm. The land is neither angry nor loving.
Understanding like that, being able to practice like that, is the method of practice, practicing equanimity, one of the Four Immeasurable Minds of Buddhism, including Compassion, kindness, Joy, and Equanimity.
2- Grief does not need to justify:
The tenth of the Ten Things of Mindfulness teaches that:
- Grief does not need to be excused, because the excuse is human and you have not released it. Let's take unhappiness as the gateway to virtue
Because the excuse is that the cause and effect have not been consumed, the hatred increases even more. Because people in their previous lives created little blessings and many karmas, in this life they encounter many unjust things. So there's no need to complain. Just actively cultivate the mind to nurture character, try to do more merit, try not to sow resentment, don't spread rumors, don't slander, don't cause suffering to others, even if it's an enemy of yours, so does the person you don't like.
Being able to endure like that, proves that you no longer accept that you accept suffering, no longer accept people who create suffering for you, that is, you have understood and practiced the doctrine of no-self of Buddhism. In the Buddhist doctrine of no self, nothing is I, so nothing is mine. If so, unhappiness is the gateway to the path of virtue.
1. Don't talk, don't pay attention
When the Buddha was about to enter Nirvana. Master Ananda knelt down and asked the Buddha:
- How to tame the wicked? When we meet bhikkhus, laypeople, and some people with bad qualities, how should I deal with them?
Buddha taught that:
- That's very easy, you should use the method: Don't talk to them, don't pay attention to them anymore
This means that when encountering people with evil nature, in order to tame the wicked, you should ignore contact or quarrel, and use concentration to let them turn if possible. Meet these types of people, do not talk to them, keep quiet, ignore them, and they will withdraw themselves.
Thus, precepts do not lie for the purpose of advising lay Buddhists to be righteous, not to use words to benefit themselves to harm others, or to terrorize others' spirits, because it is untrue, wrong, or evil. You should only use words to benefit yourself and others, whether that person is a relative or an enemy. When you use lies to harm others, your own mind will inevitably change, making your practice, cultivating your mind, and nurturing your character, for so long, become useless, but create verbal karma! If you are a Buddhist, you need to keep this precept because Buddhism is a religion of truth, so you must respect the truth. In order to cultivate compassion, you must avoid deception. More positively, you must speak the truth, know how to trust, and say how to do it. Especially the kind words that please the listeners are very necessary things to beautify life in this mundane world because words have a very important influence not only on the happiness of the people. individual, but also can determine the safety of society, preserve solidarity and keep society stable.
Words have an extremely important influence not only on the happy life of each individual but also can determine the safety of society. The words of a person of prestige, the more cautious they must be. That is why the Buddha introduced the precept of not lying to the Noble Eightfold Path, the path leading to liberation and enlightenment.
To get rid of this, each person always needs to live according to morality and social values. Speak right, eliminate bad habits, and greed, and cut off malice. Only then will you bring a peaceful life, peace of mind, and body to you and those around you. According to the Ten Blessings Sutra, you cannot lie about the eight blessings as follows:
1. Respected by the world.
2. Every word is right, loved by people and heaven.
3. The mouth is usually clean, and fragrant, like the Udumbara flower.
4- Often use gentle words, to comfort sentient beings.
5- Enjoy pleasure as you wish, and the three karmas are pure.
6. Words are not sad, but also happy.
7- Respected words, obeyed by both human and heavenly realms.
8. Supreme wisdom, no one more.
Thus, truthfully speaking it is best when a precept is taught by the Buddha:
 - Do not lie, it is very important for the life of a cultivator. So you must always remember this teaching to never lie.
In short, speaking contrary to the truth to seek your own gain or harming others is a lie. Due to greed, and malice, events happen one way, you say another. Correcting wrongdoing right, changing right into wrong, causing everyone to suffer. You say that against morality, lose all humanity, and not worthy of being a human. As a person who has cultivated and studied, you should practice speaking in an exemplary manner, knowing how to speak frankly, without deceit. Not lying is keeping trust with people around. So always remember that the karma of lying is a motive of samsara, which you should not violate. On the contrary, always say to yourself:
- Not telling lies is the ability to bring immense happiness and blessings to yourself and to those around you.
Therefore, you must learn and practice how to be able to use that tool to increase your happiness and blessings. Because the goal of a cultivator is to create happiness, and the center of practice is the apothecary of happiness. If you really want to learn how to be happy, then you have to guard your oral karma not lie.
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