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I've read that the Dalai Lama tends not to disclose his own spiritual experiences.

Is it bad to disclose meditative or spiritual experiences as visions and such? Is there a difference between monks and lay practitioners in this respect? Again for monks and lay holders: what occurs if someone is lying or inauthentic about a spiritual experience?

Also, how does one know if a spiritual experience is a genuine one?

Thank you

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From AN8.67, this is ignoble:

Saying you’ve seen, heard, thought, or known something, but you haven’t. And saying you haven’t seen, heard, thought, or known something, and you have

From AN8.68, this is noble:

Saying you haven’t seen, heard, thought, or known something, and you haven’t. And saying you’ve seen, heard, thought, or known something, and you have.

Together, these two considerations create a powerful disincentive to make claims, simply because one might be speaking out of delusion and would therefore be speaking ignoble expressions. Essentially, not saying anything about personal attainments is wisest.

Yet even with this in mind, one might assert a personal experience--how can a listener know the truth of such?

You can get to know a person’s ethics by living with them. But only after a long time, not casually; only when paying attention, not when inattentive; and only by the wise, not the witless.

One comes to know the truth of oneself and others in deeds rather than speech. For more detail, study AN5.100, which discusses the claims of different kinds of teachers including the Buddha himself:

A person will be recognized by their own deeds.

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According to the Patimokkha rules:

  • Should any bhikkhu, without direct knowledge, claim a superior human state, a truly noble knowledge and vision, as present in himself, saying, "Thus do I know; thus do I see," such that regardless of whether or not he is cross-examined on a later occasion, he — being remorseful and desirous of purification — might say, "Friends, not knowing, I said I know; not seeing, I said I see — vainly, falsely, idly," unless it was from over-estimation, he also is defeated and no longer in affiliation.

  • Should any bhikkhu report (his own) superior human state to an unordained person, when it is factual, it is to be confessed.

The first rule means that monks who deliberately lie about their spiritual achievements to anyone, are defeated (immediate and irreversible expulsion from the monastic order).

The second rule means that monks are not allowed to reveal their spiritual achievements to lay people, even if it is factual.

In addition, for monks and lay people alike, the precept of not telling untruth applies.

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