To fulfill a lie:

The statement must be untrue. There must be an intention to deceive. An effort must be made to deceive. The other person understands the meaning.

One person says something he didn't intend to do. Realizing what he said was not truly right, he did what he said in order to fulfill what he has said. An example, someone was given a pamphlet and says "will check it later", do not want to be a liar, he check it later although he doesn't want to check it in order to fulfill what he already said.

If he just said without doing it, that is a lie. But what if do it later, will the lie cancelled?

2 Answers 2


As I understand Right Speech, the relationship between what one thinks and what one says makes the difference between a truth and a lie.

In your example, if the person says something and know that thing to be untrue when he says it, that person just said a lie. The intention that person said the lie might not be completely unwholesome (maybe he didn't want to offend the other person etc), but nevertheless, he still is sure of not being honest to the other person and can be sure of just having done an unwholesome act. It seems to me ( but I am not completely sure about it) that the reason that person does read the pamphlet has more to do with his ego of not wanting to be considered a liar (even if only in his own eyes).

The bottom line is that all that matter is what person thinks at the moment that he speaks - if he says exactly what he thinks, he is telling the truth; if he says something that he knows it's not in line with what he thinks, he is lying.


Tsong-kha-pa. The Great Treatise On The Stages Of The Path To Enlightenment Vol 1 (p. 222) defines the karma of lying as follow:

The 'eight bases' of lying are that seen, that heard, that distinguished, and that cognized, as well as the four opposites of these [that not seen, etc.]. Lying is when someone else-the recipient of the lie-comprehends comprehends the meaning of the lie.

The 'discrimination' includes misrepresenting a perception, such as what you have seen, as something you have not seen, or misrepresenting what you have not seen as something you have seen.

The 'afflictions' are the three mental poisons.

The 'motivation' is your desire to misrepresent your perception.

The 'performance' is indicating something through speaking, through choosing not to speak, or through gesture.

It is said that even causing others to engage in the three types of speech-lying, divisive speech, or offensive speech-is the same as doing it yourself.

The culmination of a lie is someone else's comprehension.

If you tell a lie without being motivated by any of the three poisons: the karmic path is not complete. Also the aspect of 'discrimination/perception' implies that if you say something false thinking it is true, the karmic path is not complete. For instance, if someone ask you "What time is it?", and you answer "it is seven" thinking it is indeed seven while in fact it is six, the karmic path [of lying] is not complete.

As for breaking a promise or a commitment, although the text does not state it, I infer that it is a karmic path of lying. This is so because my teacher said "if you have the intention to give something away, and so stop holding onto it as yours, but later come back on your intention or simply never give it away, its a karmic path of stealing".

  • Suppose you are visiting a family member or a friend. It is quite late upon your arrival as you have been traveling to get there. You're offered drinks, and asked if you were hungry. Although you are hungry, you did not want to burden your host, out of compassion. You thank your host, telling them him or her that you're not hungry and that the drinks would suffice. In such circumstance. Is this a karmically complete lie, absence of greed, ill will, and possibly delusion. Would this in fact be a wholesome act?
    – Amanasa
    Oct 15, 2015 at 4:50
  • @Amanasa This is something that is somehow quite grey to me too. In everyday conversation that is fine. But in order to break this precept, the statement must be untrue, there must be an intention to deceive, an effort must be made to deceive and finally the other person is deceived by the lie. In my opinion, saying you're hungry is probably not quite fit too in that situation but in some other situation probably acceptable. If you can give different response, I think that would be better.
    – B1100
    Nov 22, 2015 at 6:54

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