3

Why is a lie for the purposes of self defence necessarily unwholesome? Why is using a lie as defence for another from attack considered parajeeka for a monk when a monk can use physical self defence and it's not parajeeka? Why can't a monk misrepresent reality(lie) for self defense instead of resorting to physical violence?

As long as you know what the truth is why give it to someone who would exploit it?

I was thinking that our intentions aren't unwholesome because we lie but a lie is unwholesome because of our unwholesome intentions. -Metta

2

The key is intent to deceive and the person understanding the deceptive communication. If the intention to deceive is not there then there is no unwholesome. If you mistakenly believe something and say this it is not breaking the precept of lying because there is no intention to deceive.

Generally, people do not like being deceived, even for their own good. So if you are motivated to deceive for their own good, then this is still lying.

If you make a promise you do not intent to keep this also is lying. If you make a promise which you know will never happen then this is not lying (e.g. I will give you an angle to marry if the sun rises in the North.) The latter type of tact was used on Nanda, in which case the promise was if you meditate.

Also I do not think a monk can resort to violence.

Also need not always tell what you know. You can simply refuse to answer, but if you answer it should be the truth.

  • How is this an answer to the question? It doesn't appear to me that you were very thorough when you read this question. Although, I have done this many times myself too -metta – Lowbrow Apr 3 '17 at 16:42
2

I would consider the fourth precept on musavada (lying) in Buddha Dhamma to include all abuses done by speech. That would also include harsh speech, slander, and gossip which will harm oneself and others. When one truly understands Buddha Dhamma, i.e., the nature of this world as embodied in anicca, dukkha, anatta, one sees that these precepts come out naturally. At that stage, one’s mind automatically rejects all ten immoral actions (dasa akusala) and thus the five precepts are automatically obeyed.

Of these 10 immoral actions, the four vaci sankhara (immoral acts done with speech) include, musavada (Lying), pisunavaca (slandering), parusavaca (harsh speech), and sampappalapa (frivolous talk). When it come to a lay person these are not promises but one’s intention is to do the utmost (otherwise the act will itself be a musavada or a lie). There comes a time in one’s personal practice when one realizes that there is no other moral way to live.

Precepts are about purifying one’s mind. A pure mind gains wisdom, and will not allow any harmful action by speech or by deed. Such a mind is not burdened, but has “cooled down”. People could blindly follow precepts, but are of greed, hate, or ignorance. Then depending on the state of their minds, they may get reborn in a lesser world.

If keeping the precepts alone will take one to a higher plane of existence, then a cow or a horse living in isolation will be certain to be born a Deva.. They do not kill, steal, lie, or get intoxicated, and if their owners do not have any other animal of that kind, then there is no chance of sexually misbehaving either.

2

The equation seems to have a failure. Atma (my person) tries to focus mainly on the sample at first hand.

In one case, one hurts the truth (by lying) and in the other a person.

Another misunderstandig might be that Vinaya reflects automatical wholesome and unwholesome. Self defense is always unwholesome, since it requires Delusion (believe that a Self could be damaged, touching form, feeling, perception, formations, recognition).

And one more, a lie does not necessary hurt a listener directly, he could be pleased as well (even mostly)

Generally again, Vinaya does not go deep into Abhidhamma but stays for the most at bodily and verbal deeds. It works with very gross defilements. So it's not good to assume to much in regard of karmic effects. Vinaya is made for wordlings, yet not able to understand mind and intention fully and meant as protection in defiled states.

1

If what you say is true (that "physical self-defence" is permitted), perhaps one consideration might be that that is to do with the order's good reputation versus bringing the order into disrepute?

For example if you're a member of the lay community, which do you think is better: monks who defend themselves physically when attacked; or, monks who tell lies whenever they think that's necessary?

I suppose self-defense might be seen as blameless, and lying as blame-worthy.

I realize that this answer begs the question, though.

Still, many of the Vinaya rules (e.g. forbidding alms-rounds at night) are motivated by considering how that behaviour will affect the Sangha's reputation.


I think I also read that lying is something that a Bodhisattva will never do.

The Ambalatthika-rahulovada Sutta is graphic about not telling a deliberate lie.

  • hello ChrisW, Shouldn't your above "for example" be a little different? For example if you're a member of the lay community, which do you think is better: monks who defend themselves if necessary, or, monks who defend themselves with a lie when necessary? I am talking about lying only as self defence. if the lie will bring less suffering than physical self defence. I ask why can't a monk lie in this situation? Loopholes happen in any rule of any system. – Lowbrow Apr 3 '17 at 16:32
  • Is the edited version better? And what is "physical self defense": do you mean like, evasion, i.e. physically avoiding or escaping the situation? – ChrisW Apr 3 '17 at 16:38
  • They're supposed to be as evasive as possible but if they are cornered they can attack back in self defence. At least that's my understanding. – Lowbrow Apr 3 '17 at 22:46
  • 1
    Per this comment, According to the Vibhanga, there is no offense for a bhikkhu who, trapped in a difficult situation, gives a blow “desiring freedom.” – ChrisW Apr 3 '17 at 22:58
1

Apart from the intention to deceive, as Suminda states, there is also not 'treating this as this', but rather 'treating this as that and that as this', which is creating/forcing delusion onto the person you lie to.

To give an example - say your friend currently feels negatively about you for some reason (and you are not fully aware of their state of mind). If you proceed to ask another friend, who then tells you, using whatever reasoning, that that first friend in fact feels positively about you, whilst knowing that not to be the case, if you take that statement on board, you now have information that is not accurate. You believe your friend feels positively about you, whilst in fact, they feel negatively about you. The situation and your perception of the situation are in disagreement (a neat delusion), and the only condition for that disagreement is the lie you were told.

It is hard to see an instance for which, given the availability of accurate information, inaccurate information will lead to a simpler resolution of an issue.. the issue can be avoided with a lie, brushed under the carpet, but that is ignorance.

  • Could you explain "this and that" teaching in other terms? – Lowbrow Apr 3 '17 at 16:07
-2

Why is a lie for the purposes of self defence necessarily unwholesome?

It is not unwholesome. Kamma is intention.

'There is the case where a certain person engages in false speech. When he has been called to a town meeting, a group meeting, a gathering of his relatives, his guild, or of the royalty [i.e., a royal court proceeding], if he is asked as a witness, 'Come & tell, good man, what you know': If he doesn't know, he says, 'I know.' If he does know, he says, 'I don't know.' If he hasn't seen, he says, 'I have seen.' If he has seen, he says, 'I haven't seen.' Thus he consciously tells lies for his own sake, for the sake of another or for the sake of a certain reward. AN 10.176



Why is using a lie as defence for another from attack considered parajeeka for a monk

It is not a parajika:

The four transgressions which incur a Parajika, the penalty of automatic disrobal, are as follows:

1. Engaging in sexual intercourse with another being of either sex.

2. Stealing something of value (which includes smuggling, cheating or deliberately avoiding payment of a tax).

3. Purposely killing a human being or encouraging him or her to commit suicide (this includes inciting another to murder somebody and it also includes convincing a woman to have an abortion.

4. Boasting that one has realised a high spiritual attainment, knowing that one is lying. For example, claiming to be enlightened, to be Maitreya Buddha, to have entered Jhana (deep meditation-ecstasy) or that one can read minds when one knows that one hasn't reached any of these states.



Why can't a monk misrepresent reality(lie) for self defense instead of resorting to physical violence?

Why would a monk be engaging in "self-defence"? This is very unlikely.


I was thinking that our intentions aren't unwholesome because we lie but a lie is unwholesome because of our unwholesome intentions.

Correct. A lie is unwholesome because of our unwholesome intentions.

For example, if a monk hides an innocent person from a would-be-murderer and the murderer asks the monk has the monk seen the innocent person, it is not unwholesome if the monk lies to the murderer. Why should a monk be honest to a murderer if the murderer will murderer as a result of the monk's honesty?

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.