Let's say a person were to seek for, and enter a monogamous heterosexual relationship and eventually marriage, but actually he or she is either homosexual or bisexual (but more inclined to homosexuality).

This person may genuinely believe that he or she can live the heterosexual lifestyle and marriage, and persevere in making it successful, without infidelity, despite not being intrinsically or naturally heterosexual. This may be due to conforming to social norms, local laws (where same-sex marriages and homosexuality may be illegal) and parental expectations, plus the desire to have one's own biological children, the normal way.

This person may also avoid openly telling this to their prospective partner, otherwise they may lose their chance at being accepted.

Would this be violating the fourth precept of not telling lies (and not being dishonest)?

How should this person approach this situation instead?


1 Answer 1


As I explained in this answer, the purpose of Right Speech is to avoid creating latent causes of future suffering. Lying sets in motion an alternative narrative that gets its own life and eventually comes in conflict with the narrative based on truth. It ends up becoming a kind of irreconcilable contradiction that someone somewhere (often you, but also others) experiences as personal suffering.

In your example, if you don't lie to anyone, but simply hide the truth - guess what - the conflict between the two narratives is still inevitable. Granted, it does not directly involve anyone, it stays "in your head" - but that does not make it any less problematic. Not only it will make you suffer internally, you being perpetually in a state of inner conflict will eventually spill on your partner and on other people around you.

This is why being who you are, by which I mean being authentic in your relationships with the World - instead of suppressing the truth and playing a role - plays a tremendously important role in the Buddhist practice, at least in the Zen and Vajrayana schools that I trained in.

Of course this doesn't mean being unhinged. There's still ethiquette and compassion and taking on suffering to relieve someone else's. There are real-life situations when subjecting oneself to inner suffering is the best available option. But to live one's life at-large in a state of unresolved contradiction is definitely not conducive to the Buddhist quest for personal and global Peace.

This is why coming out and being real is extremely important - not just in terms of one's sexual orientation but in all forms of authentic expression. I suppose you knew this intuitively but it's kind of nice to clearly see the mechanism at work here, I hope it will help you to settle this issue.

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