There are moments of clarity that I have experienced in which I finally but truly gain a sense of knowledge and comprehension about ...something.... In those moments it is like I have changed at a cellular level and that which I understood before no longer made sense. Assumptions upon which I had based decisions, attitudes etc. have been adjusted somehow and the fabric of my life is different. In my new state of clarity it is like I had been deceiving myself about [whatever] and the cloud of confusion imposed by being embedded in that particular delusion has lifted.

So my question is ... Does this mean that before I gained some sense of insight I was deceiving or lying to myself and others? Sometimes it feels like it, so profound is the clarifying moment.

  • Acting out of ignorance is not in itself wholesome, but still not as unwholesome as knowingly being deceptive
    – Ryan
    Commented Jun 14, 2015 at 23:08
  • yes but does that mean that once I'm not blinded by ignorance all that was before is null and void? Did those experiences not contribute to my new found state of clarity?
    – drcrpsych
    Commented Jun 14, 2015 at 23:11
  • Acting out of ignorance contributes to your detriment, realizing that you're acting out of ignorance and acting on that to no longer act out of ignorance contributes to your welfare.
    – Ryan
    Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 0:19

2 Answers 2


I am just speaking from my own experience with the Dharma, but I think that you cannot possibly be lying/deceiving yourself and others before your insights.

Here is why: 1st: This would mean that every living being that is not enlightened is lying and deceiving themselves and others. This is due to the fact that enlightenment is a journey, not just a sudden occurrence. You are sure to have more insights in the future, but does that mean you will also be lying to yourself and others before those insights? Of Course Not!

2nd: A lack of insight indicates ignorance, not lying and deceiving. Here is why: One without insight, meaning the 'sight that see's into phenomena', merely has ignorance, meaning the 'ignoring of current phenomena' (to ignore means to be unaware of the senses, touch, sight, hearing, tasting, smelling, thinking and feeling) This does not mean however that you are lying or deceiving if your are ignorant (or have lack of insight) but rather that you have chosen to ignore the senses.

3rd: Lying and deceiving is separated from ignorance because of intentions Here is why: To use an example, my friend decided to buy herself a phone and not tell her boyfriend because she might get in trouble. If asked by her boyfriend whether she did that and she said 'no', then she would be lying. Although she has insight into what she has done (based on the memory she has of doing it) she has 'chosen' not to answer correctly because she is unwilling to face the negative consequences. This would therefore make this act a lie, not a lack of insight or 'ignorance'.

Hope this helps :)

  • It certainly did help thank you. There was a layer or two of the phenomena that have been discussed above that I was simply not getting... what you wrote has made me pause and that in itself augers well (for me from past experience) for the evolution of a deeper understanding by me for a moment or two. Thanks for sharing!
    – drcrpsych
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 10:00
  • anytime :) glad I could help
    – user5286
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 10:21

I think Christ or one of his disciples said

we are all sinners in the eyes of God.

While what I will suggest here isn't the TRUTH, it's a possible place to stand. The ego tends to think it has improved when gaining insight into one's own self-deception. And this is valid - if there were no short term accomplishments in a spiritual path, it would be a difficult path indeed.

However, it's this very sort of of short term gain that can inhibit spiritual growth. We are prone to gain a greater sense of self-importance when proud or attached to our insights. Yesterday's insight is today's ego trip.

My point is that given we are all - when measured against the background of who we really are - quite small; I think it would be safe to assume that yes - you were lying with no caveats.

That said, you are not now condemned eternally for your self deception, but it may be that you now feel obligated to make something right - to clean up actions you have taken in the past.

Taking it too an extreme example - I killed your dog yesterday, because I thought dogs were wicked. Today, I realized that I suffer from paranoid schizophrenia and as such, I now know that dogs are not wicked.

It doesn't follow that I didn't kill your dog. I still did, and even though my reasons for doing so were based upon faulty assumptions - there are a whole slew of consequences that flow from my action.

But perhaps most importantly is the label you have attached to what happened. We as humans unfailingly deceive nearly every time we open our mouth. When I say to my wife, "You make me so mad", that is a lie. She didn't make me mad - I had a reaction to something and chose to blame her. Variations on this abound.

So - a question - what do you care if your statement was a lie or not? Telling the truth won't make you a good person; nor lying a bad. What matters is not how you choose to view what you said - what matters is what you might now need to do because of what you said. If there were consequences that you can in some way be responsible for and if need be, clean up, then it would be wise to do so.

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