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Thread: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

  1. #1

    Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    I will preface this by saying I don't have children so this isn't terribly applicable to me right now. This is more of a theoretical question, I guess.

    With the Five Precepts, one vows to abstain from false speech. The Noble Eightfold Path teaches of Right Speech as well. So....what about telling children of Santa, the Tooth Fairy and whatnot. I know these fall under the common category of "white lies" the sort of thing we sweep under the rug while telling ourselves nobody got hurt. But a lie is a lie.

    Is there a gray area within the teachings on Right Speech or should one abstain from all untruths....even the itty bitty ones. :lol:

  2. #2

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by hbhippo
    I will preface this by saying I don't have children so this isn't terribly applicable to me right now. This is more of a theoretical question, I guess.

    With the Five Precepts, one vows to abstain from false speech. The Noble Eightfold Path teaches of Right Speech as well. So....what about telling children of Santa, the Tooth Fairy and whatnot. I know these fall under the common category of "white lies" the sort of thing we sweep under the rug while telling ourselves nobody got hurt. But a lie is a lie.

    Is there a gray area within the teachings on Right Speech or should one abstain from all untruths....even the itty bitty ones. :lol:
    Hi,

    Well, Buddha kind of "truthfully-fibbed" all the time, except he called it "skill in means" (Upaya). The Buddha gave several good examples in the Lotus Sutra, in the Parable of the Fire ...

    An old, wise man returns from his travels to his large and crumbling mansion to find that it is on fire and his many sons are trapped inside. He tells them the situation and calls on them to come out, but they do not understand what the statement "the house is on fire" means, and they are absorbed with their playthings. So the father tells them that he has presents outside: goat carts for some, deer carts for others, and bullock carts for the rest. The children then hurry to come out and ask for the carts, but the father does not have them. Instead, he gives each child an enormous and magnificent cart, of a type far beyond any splendor they could have imagined, drawn by white oxen.... The Buddha explains that the father in the story is himself; the house is samsara, which is subject to decay and death and is on fire with the passions; the children are disciples; the promised carts are the various apparent rewards consequent upon following Buddhist teachings and practices; and the ox carts are true liberation.
    ... and the Parable of the Phantom City ...

    A group of people are being led by a knowledgeable guide through a wilderness to a place where, they are told, they will find great treasure. After some time, the group become weary and disheartened and wish to turn back. The guide tells them that, just a short distance ahead, there is a city where they can lodge and refresh themselves. They enter the city, and, when they feel better, the city vanishes. The guide explains that he had created it by magic to satisfy their needs, and, now that it has fulfilled its purpose, he has made it disappear. The treasure, he says, is near, and if they make one more effort, they will find it. We are then told that the guide is the Buddha; the group of people are disciples; the phantom city is Buddhism; and the treasure is the Buddha Nature.
    I tell my young children that there is a Santa, and that he lives at the North Pole ... but also that he represents the spirit of giving and generosity. Now that my 9 year old does not exactly believe in the "North Pole" part anymore, I have still taught him that Santa is real, but the North Pole is the human heart, and he is alive whenever people are giving and generous.

    In fact, I teach about our seeing the Great Bodhisattvas and many of the other more magical figures of Buddhism in much the same way. Taigu and I have given talks a few times on, for example ... Kannon or Jizo as love and compassion (and the same can be said about whether the "devil" really exists or not in the damage that people do) ....

    Actually, I had a hard time, for many years, incorporating into my practice many figures such as Kannon and Jizo ...

    I have some cautions I would offer both to people who say (a) these things do exist in a concrete way, and those folks who say (b) they do not. While both those extremes may be correct (only the universe knows for sure, and I remain an open minded mystic-skeptic), I have come to see "them" as archtypes, representing real characteristics of human life and (since we are just the universe) thus the universe.

    In other words, in a nutshell: When we feel in our hearts and act upon love and compassion, thereby love and compassion exists as a real, concrete aspect of the world which our hearts and acts create. And since, in our view, there is no "inside" or "outside" ultimately, what is inside you is just as much "the universe" and concrete reality as the moon, gravity and the stars. That is "Kannon", in that way a real and concrete aspect and 'force' of the world.

    I believe in Buddhist Heavens and Hells, Buddhas (apart from the historical Shakyamuni) and Boddhisattvas, and all the rest of the Buddhist cosmology, in much the spirit of that famous essay ... "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus". Did you ever read that? A little girl wrote to a newspaper editor, back in 1897, saying that she'd heard from friends that there is no Santa Claus. "Is it true?", she asked. Part of the response ran like this ...

    What? You don't believe in Santa Claus?

    GassHo Ho Ho, Jundo


    VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

    Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

    http://www.newseum.org/yesvirginia/
    Gassho, J

    PS - I also approve the use of "white lies" to make bitter messages go down a little easier, or to keep peace in a home. Any dress my wife wears ALWAYS makes her look great! 8) We will discuss this and related questions during our annual reflection on the Precepts for Jukai ...

    viewtopic.php?f=7&t=4361

    AND THAT'S THE TRUTH! :wink:

  3. #3

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    It would be difficult to live in the world without white lies. We all do it - probably a lot of the time - to be diplomatic, kind, avoid unecessary
    conflict etc, White lies can be a skillfull means (like Jundo said - Upaya). The Buddhist system of ethics flows in a neat way - right views, right intentions, right speech,etc - it involves thinking things through and appreciating grey areas and sometimes it means a white lie is exactly the right response

    Gassho

    Willow

  4. #4

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Forgive me if what I'm about to say is unpalatable but you did ask...

    I don't lie intentionally to my kids even about things like Santa. It's gotten to the point that my four year old will argue with me trying to convince me about the reality of Santa despite being told that he doesn't exist. It's interesting that the Buddha is shown to lie in the Lotus Sutra because in the Pali Canon he never does so, not even once. In fact in the early texts and commentaries it is said that in all of his lives as the bodhisattva the one precept he never transgressed was that of Right Speech. Without honestly and integrity it's all too easy to avoid inconvenient truths about ourselves and the way we live. Also, keep in mind that there is always an alternative to lying: when asked about something that you don't want to speak about you can always plead the 5th (just keep your mouth shut).

    Anyways, Right Speech is incredibly difficult for me and I am sure most of us here so I wish you the best with whatever you decide. Mettaya.

  5. #5

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Khalil Bodhi
    Forgive me if what I'm about to say is unpalatable but you did ask...

    I don't lie intentionally to my kids even about things like Santa. It's gotten to the point that my four year old will argue with me trying to convince me about the reality of Santa despite being told that he doesn't exist. It's interesting that the Buddha is shown to lie in the Lotus Sutra because in the Pali Canon he never does so, not even once. In fact in the early texts and commentaries it is said that in all of his lives as the bodhisattva the one precept he never transgressed was that of Right Speech. Without honestly and integrity it's all too easy to avoid inconvenient truths about ourselves and the way we live. Also, keep in mind that there is always an alternative to lying: when asked about something that you don't want to speak about you can always plead the 5th (just keep your mouth shut).

    Anyways, Right Speech is incredibly difficult for me and I am sure most of us here so I wish you the best with whatever you decide. Mettaya.
    Hi KB,

    If you were a father who could only get his children to leave a burning building quickly by promising them that Santa was waiting outside with toys, what would you do? I would not consider that a lie in a strict sense. Would the Buddha, in order to save the life of a sentient being tell a lie? (Telling a lie to Nazi soldiers to protect Anne Frank hiding in the attic of a house, for example). I hope he would! Would that be a lie that maintains or destroys integrity? So, how about a fib or fiction or fable meant to save people in other ways, leading them to freedom and nirvana?

    In fact, the roots of Upaya are found in the Pali Canon. In the Tevijja Sutta, the Buddha promises two young Brahmins a means to "union with Brahma" as a way to free them from seeking union with Brahma, only later directing them away from such a goal. (http://www.buddhanet.net/skilful-means.htm).

    It is also a fact that the Mahayana Sutras tend to write off most of the Pali Canon as merely themselves "upaya/expedient means", tailored by the Buddha for that audience who was not "ready" spiritually for the Mahayana and so not really "meant" by him as conveying the total truth. Of course, that is probably only sectarian BS, but I also feel that the overly idealized, superhuman image of the Buddha present in both the Suttas and Sutras is a kind of holy lie itself meant by later authors to glorify the founder of the religion (much like the founder George Washington was glorified in legend to "never tell a lie"). That Buddha is a paradigm we should all aim for, an ideal for human behavior, a symbol of the best in us. But actual life is filled with many gray areas, ambiguities, "Anne Frank" situations large and small that the Buddha is spared ... because the Sutta and Sutra writers conveniently left most of those out of the tale.

    Unfortunately, it is no more realistic than to believe (as we discussed a few days ago) that one can totally get through life without killing termites and bed bugs. In theory, ideal. In reality, hard to uphold when the little critters are biting one's child in his bed.

    I am not justifying lying in most of its forms. Not at all. I am merely saying that there are times it is appropriate, and letting a child believe in Elmo, Mickey Mouse or Santa Claus seems to me to be generally beneficial if conveying positive values ** ... much like having people believe in an ideal, semi-fictional Buddha or Bodhisattva story if conveying positive lessons!

    Gassho, Jundo

    ** Using the myth of Santa to teach the virtue of giving ... not simply lessons in consumerism and receiving! :?

  6. #6

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    I would just like to add that if followed right speech without any sort of personal interpretation I would be out of job. I write fiction, which is all lie. However, I think that many lies are beautiful and often offer more compassion than the truth: Jundo's excellent example about Anne Frank, for instance. Also, I often find the most wonderful truths about human life, all life, conveyed in and through fiction, and thus, if fiction (a lie) conveys some kind of truth, is it really a lie? I think these easy lines, black and white, truth and lie, can get blurred quite quickly. It's a kind of morally transparent thing, not just a Buddhist thing, that certain types of lies cause harm. But other types of lies (and I'm not talking about "white lies" like "oh yeah, I saw that movie"), but lies with deeper moral implications are often incredibly compassionate. In another thread started by Kojip, some of us have tossed around some lines from J. Alfred Prufrock, and I think, what's really wonderful, is that though this poem is completely fictional, and though this poem is about a man who is the exact opposite (so-to-speak) of typical "zen" person, seeing the wrong-headedness of the character is illuminating about our own practice in some way.

    Just a few thoughts.

    Hope all are well on this lovely day.

    Gassho,
    Alan

  7. #7

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Rev. Jundo,

    I completely get what you're saying and I most definitely would lie in the case of my children or protecting someone from the Nazis--I would just do so knowing I was breaking a precept and resolve do better next time. Luckily I have not yet been in either of those hypothetical situations (I hope I never will) so it is relatively easy to keep the 4th precept. Mettaya.

  8. #8

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Khalil Bodhi
    Rev. Jundo,

    I completely get what you're saying and I most definitely would lie in the case of my children or protecting someone from the Nazis--I would just do so knowing I was breaking a precept and resolve do better next time. Luckily I have not yet been in either of those hypothetical situations (I hope I never will) so it is relatively easy to keep the 4th precept. Mettaya.
    Hey KB,

    Yes, most all flavors of Buddhism teach that, even should one be forced to break a Precept in a big or small way, one should bear the Karmic weight, reflect on having had to do so, seek as one can not to do so in the future.

    The case I usually mention is a friend of mine, a Buddhist policeman, who had to kill someone in the line of duty in order to save an innocent person held hostage. It was a perfectly justified, necessary shooting. However, from that day he always felt a kind of mental scar, a heavy weight ... even though he knew he had to do the right thing. He always felt the need to bring peace into the world in some measure to make up for what he had had to do.

    On the other hand, telling my wife that her dress makes her look 10 years younger ... well, only a little bad Karma perhaps, and much good Karma in my house! 8)

    Gassho, Jundo

  9. #9

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Gassho
    _()_

  10. #10

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    I have taken the precepts, and do my best to keep them. But the keeping of precepts depends. I can never say never. It is situational.

  11. #11

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    You have all given me much to think about and I thank you for your replies.

    I look forward to delving deeper into this for the annual reflection on the Precepts for Jukai.

  12. #12

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip
    I have taken the precepts, and do my best to keep them. But the keeping of precepts depends. I can never say never. It is situational.
    I wholeheartedly agree. Life is not black and white, and we cannot live a life in a natural way by following a strict set of unchanging rules. That is very problematic. We start following a religion to focus on adherence to something rather than practicing a religion out of true wisdom. I'm not saying the precepts aren't good, but they are not meant to be accepted and adhered to exactly.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  13. #13

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    I feel that the beauty of the precepts is bending our lives to fit them rather than the other way around. There's freedom of desires and then there's freedom from desires which is the path that the Buddhas and the enlightened masters have taught.

  14. #14

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    I'm not saying that we should bend the precepts to fit our lives. I'm saying that the precepts aren't black and white. Just because a precept says refrain from lying, doesn't mean there are times when the precept can't be broken. Of course, it's really just common sense. I mean in Hagen's book Buddhism: Plain and Simple, he brings up the point about a Nazi officer asking someone if they know where Jews are. They happen to be harboring Jews, so if they don't tell the Nazi officer where they are they are breaking the precepts. Oh no, what to do? Of course I'm being sarcastic, but sometimes a precept has to be broken in order to preserve the nature of the precepts, which are to live a balanced and compassionate life.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  15. #15

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Khalil Bodhi
    I feel that the beauty of the precepts is bending our lives to fit them rather than the other way around. There's freedom of desires and then there's freedom from desires which is the path that the Buddhas and the enlightened masters have taught.
    I cannot know why someone might keep or break a precept, and am in no position to judge. People do their best. It is presumptuous to see that in terms of bending precepts to fit lives... presumptuous is putting it lightly in fact.

  16. #16

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip
    Quote Originally Posted by Khalil Bodhi
    I feel that the beauty of the precepts is bending our lives to fit them rather than the other way around. There's freedom of desires and then there's freedom from desires which is the path that the Buddhas and the enlightened masters have taught.
    I cannot know why someone might keep or break a precept, and am in no position to judge. People do their best. It is presumptuous to see that in terms of bending precepts to fit lives... presumptuous is putting it lightly in fact.
    Kojip,

    My apologies if I have offended you or anyone else here as that was never my intention. I must admit that I find your assertion that I am judging anyone strange because I was simply starting my own personal (if unpopular) position. May you be well!

    Mike

  17. #17

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Khalil Bodhi
    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip
    Quote Originally Posted by Khalil Bodhi
    I feel that the beauty of the precepts is bending our lives to fit them rather than the other way around. There's freedom of desires and then there's freedom from desires which is the path that the Buddhas and the enlightened masters have taught.
    I cannot know why someone might keep or break a precept, and am in no position to judge. People do their best. It is presumptuous to see that in terms of bending precepts to fit lives... presumptuous is putting it lightly in fact.
    Kojip,

    My apologies if I have offended you or anyone else here as that was never my intention. I must admit that I find your assertion that I am judging anyone strange because I was simply starting my own personal (if unpopular) position. May you be well!

    Mike
    I said I can't judge. What is presumptuous is to say that breaking a precept is only about bending it to suit self-centered desire. That is not my experience.


    Gassho, kojip

  18. #18
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    What's this about Santa Claus !!! :shock: :shock:

  19. #19

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    I'm so sorry you had to find out this way on the internet...let me know if you want to talk about it via PM :P

  20. #20

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Khalil Bodhi
    I feel that the beauty of the precepts is bending our lives to fit them rather than the other way around. There's freedom of desires and then there's freedom from desires which is the path that the Buddhas and the enlightened masters have taught.
    Hi KB,

    This is actually an important historical point. Theravadan Buddhism (which, by the way, folks sometimes think of as the "older" or "original" Buddhism, but which is more of a parallel path also developing in its own ways and flavor over the centuries) has tended to emphasize "freedom from desires" by being rid of, extinguishing or forsaking many passions, drives and desires.

    Mahayana Buddhism, with its vision of "emptiness as precisely form, nirvana dancing right as samsara" has tended to see that "freedom from desire" can occur right in and as a world of desires. Of course, Mahayanists tend to believe in moderating desires, holding them lightly and without clutching attachment, and abandoning excess or negative and harmful desires such as for violence, misuse of sexuality in a hurtful way, greed for excess materialistic things, and the like. However, that being said, one can find non-attachment and "total, complete freedom from all desire" right in the heart of/in/as/though-and-through moderate, healthy, ordinary human desires themselves. Having some ordinary and healthy, balanced human "desire" and ALSO "complete lack of desire" are -not- an "either/or" contradiction, but can be both at once, as one ... shining through.

    The Lotus Blossoms In The Mud, this muddy world is nourishment and life for the Lotus.

    Sometimes, when it comes to excess or harmful things, we definitely bend our life to the Precepts, and the Precepts stand as firm and fixed sentinels of Right Conduct. At other times, amid the vagaries of life, the Precepts show great space. Someone once compared them to a fence around a cow field, keeping the cows from going too far astray so that they do not wander onto a busy highway or off a cliff, yet allowing the cows all spacious freedom of movement and choice within.

    Gassho, J

  21. #21

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Rev. Jundo et al,

    Thank you for the great posts. Although I can't say that I will necessarily see my practice in the same terms I hope you guys can accept a stodgy Theravadin into the fold. Metta.

    Gassho,

    Mike

  22. #22

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Khalil Bodhi
    Rev. Jundo et al,

    Thank you for the great posts. Although I can't say that I will necessarily see my practice in the same terms I hope you guys can accept a stodgy Theravadin into the fold. Metta.

    Gassho,

    Mike
    Let me add that not all Mahayana folks see or undertake the Precepts in the same way either. The life of celibate monks and "at home" folks is not the same. Dogen, for example, ran a pretty tight ship for his monks in a monastic setting. A bit "eye of the beholder" and " different degrees for different folks and situations".?

    Gassho, Jundo

  23. #23

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    For what it is worth.. my experience with keeping the precepts developed within a lay Theravadin sangha, and was not considered out of line or radical by either the laity or the ordained sangha. It was the Forest Sangha tradition... longtime practitioners... good old friends. Solid Buddhists. Theravada is not a monolith either...


    Gassho, kojip.

  24. #24

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai
    What's this about Santa Claus !!! :shock: :shock:
    ... and the tooth fairy

    (I can still remember the excitement of finding a coin under my pillow when I was a kid )

    Willow

  25. #25

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    I’ve been thinking about this. Do I feel my parents lied to me about Santa Claus? Santa Claus is one of my most cherished memories from childhood, and it gave me pleasure to grow into being a Secret Santa myself. I don’t feel like my parents lied to me.

    I think they” played along” having all intention that I would know and understand the literal truth in the not too distant future. I think they gave me something special along the lines of “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

    I believe the definition of “lie” can be taken too literally in the case of Santa Claus, as if we are missing the connotation of the word “lie” and staying strictly with the denotation. I think “play along” is the better definition in the case of Santa Claus. Gassho, Grace

  26. #26
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    I will probably continue the Santa tradition if I have a family. I've considered that I might be open about the fact that it would be me doing the presents though, once children get old enough to start asking questions. My boyfriend's family is like that. They get presents from Santa, though everyone knows who Santa really is.

    Personally, when I found out that Santa wasn't real, I didn't have any bad reaction to it. It made sense and I didn't feel that my mom was lying to me. I knew why she did it: it was just a fun tradition from her own childhood.

    I agree with you, Grace.

  27. #27

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Always good to remember: "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own experience and common sense." -The Buddha
    Gassho
    Jeff

  28. #28

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by wellfed
    Always good to remember: "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own experience and common sense." -The Buddha
    Gassho
    Jeff
    HI Jeff,

    This is actually a pretty poor translation/interpretation of the Kalama Sutta. If you're interested in a getting a more in-depth understanding read here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/a...-essay_09.html

    Gassho,

    Mike

  29. #29
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    On the other hand, telling my wife that her dress makes her look 10 years younger ... well, only a little bad Karma perhaps, and much good Karma in my house! 8)

    Gassho, Jundo
    :lol:

    Gassho,
    Ekai

  30. #30
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    I cherish my childhood memories of believing in Santa Claus and it created a beautiful and magical Christmas in our home. I am grateful for my parents giving me the gift of Santa Claus because their intention was based on love and generosity. They just wanted to me make happy during the holiday season and it worked.

    Gassho,
    Ekai

  31. #31

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Khalil Bodhi,
    I see that now Mike. I just remembered that quote (I don't remember where). I thought it was sound reasoning. I will follow your link to learn more. I certainly was not trying to paraphrase for my own benefit. Your clarification is most appreciated.
    Gassho
    Jeff

  32. #32

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Khalil Bodhi
    Quote Originally Posted by wellfed
    Always good to remember: "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own experience and common sense." -The Buddha
    Gassho
    Jeff
    HI Jeff,

    This is actually a pretty poor translation/interpretation of the Kalama Sutta. If you're interested in a getting a more in-depth understanding read here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/a...-essay_09.html

    Gassho,

    Mike
    Yes, actually the Buddha's meaning might also be phrased as "Believe nothing, no matter who said it ... unless I, the Buddha said it" ...

    ... which (fortunately for us Buddhist folks who Practice this daily) will (even if not at the start of practice, eventually with time ... or I would have not kept walking this Path all these years) come to be proven in our own experience and common sense (though "common sense" with a Buddha's eyes and "common sense" through ordinary, ignorant eyes are not necessarily always the same, as our look at the "common sense" of Koans often shows us).

    I think it also important to keep in mind that there is no reason to agree or believe everything that even the historical Buddha said! (That's the kind of statement that get's me in trouble in some corners of the Buddhist world, and kicked out of a couple of more fundamentalist Buddhist forums). Even the more fundamentalist folks will typically explain away the Buddha's sometimes contradictory, seemingly quaint or superstitious statements and Teachings as just his use of "expedient means" meant to cater to his particular audience and their level of understanding, or something just "beyond our understanding" ... but I go a bit farther ...

    I even say that maybe, just maybe, the Buddha was not infallible on every darn thing. Not on the vital heart of the teachings, mind you. But while he was 90% right in his proposals, he maybe also had some klunkers and narrow ideas here and there (as fits a man who lived in a traditional, myth based society some 2500 years ago in ancient India) ... like the whole thing about an overly mechanical view of rebirth, the place of women, the need to abandon the world and family in order to Practice and to repress or extinquish (as opposed to moderate & balance & pierce) the desires and emotions, and some other elements of myth and superstition from Indian culture of the times. ... No problem, because the stuff that the Buddha was a genius about is WORTH THE WHOLE PRICE OF ADMISSION!
    Gassho, Jundo

  33. #33
    disastermouse
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    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    First off, whenever this precept comes up, hypothetical Nazis are not very far behind. One follows the other like the dawn follows midnight.

    Secondly, the precepts take a bit of bravery. I challenge anyone who lives among other people to go a WEEK without saying or implying to him or herself, let alone others, something that isn't strictly true. Too often though, I see in myself, and therefore suspect in others, a real tendency to avoid acknowledging to OURSELVES that we are in fact lying. Let alone whether it's justified, I am sometimes uncomfortable looking that closely at it - I remain numb or blind to what I'm actually doing, working at cross purposes, or just generally being unconscious of the mental mechanations at play when I speak an untruth. These lies are damaging not on moral grounds, but they damage our ability to be aware. This isn't strictly a matter of morality, it's a straightforward peril to our ability to remain consciously and act consciously. Hence, if one must lie, don't shy away from it but notice when it's uncomfortable. Then if you examine that discomfort, it may be possible to live in a way that is less psychologically uncomfortable and hence less harmful to others and ourselves.

    IMHO.

    Chet

  34. #34

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    " ...this muddy world is nourishment and life for the Lotus. "

    santa can wait!

    gassho
    gilles

  35. #35

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Khalil Bodhi
    Quote Originally Posted by wellfed
    Always good to remember: "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own experience and common sense." -The Buddha
    Gassho
    Jeff
    HI Jeff,

    This is actually a pretty poor translation/interpretation of the Kalama Sutta. If you're interested in a getting a more in-depth understanding read here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/a...-essay_09.html

    Gassho,

    Mike
    Thanks for the reference Mike -have just read the above article and pondering on the implications.

    Gassho

    Willow

  36. #36

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by willow
    Quote Originally Posted by Khalil Bodhi
    Quote Originally Posted by wellfed
    Always good to remember: "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own experience and common sense." -The Buddha
    Gassho
    Jeff
    HI Jeff,

    This is actually a pretty poor translation/interpretation of the Kalama Sutta. If you're interested in a getting a more in-depth understanding read here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/a...-essay_09.html

    Gassho,

    Mike
    Thanks for the reference Mike -have just read the above article and pondering on the implications.

    Gassho

    Willow
    My pleasure. Metta!

    Gassho,

    Mike

  37. #37

    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    The Kalama Sutta is most quoted Sutta on the internet. ...and that is fishy IMHO, because it can be very convenient.

    It is true that the buck stops here.. only I can experience practice first hand.. but.. at the same time, "I know" is a trap. The Kalama Sutta can be worn like a suit of armor. Recognizing the wisdom and maturity of others who can guide me.. was and is essential for keeping an open heart and mind.



    Gassho, kojip

  38. #38
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
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    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    Let's not confuse Right Speech with fact-based only speech. They are not the same thing at all.

    And Chet has some good points, too.

  39. #39
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Re: Kinda weird question about Right Speech

    We have to remember that sometimes telling the truth can have tragic consequences. If we are causing harm simply for the sake of not lying I have a hard time reconciling that as "right speech."

    I actually just read this article on "right lying" @ tricycle.com and then opened this thread,

    http://www.tricycle.com/dharma-talk/rig ... g?page=0,0

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