Author Topic: Can lying ever be considered 'skillful means'?  (Read 9819 times)

yontenjamyang

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Re: Can lying ever be considered 'skillful means'?
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2012, 03:40:04 AM »
The question is :Can lying ever be considered 'skillful means'? Can it ever? Of course it can! But everybody has given very good answers.

I just like to add that if the act of lying cause negative results to others then the karma is still there even though the longer term intention is pure. So the person lying must be aware. It is just like the story of Buddha killing to save many on a ship, he still went to hell for the act of killing for a brief moment.

Since we do not really have a 100% pure boddhi mind yet, we will experience the effect for every lie what ever the intention. But it depends of the motivation and the level of the practitioner.

There is this famous saying in Chinese Mahayana: "If I do not go to hell, then who will?" If we commit the act of lying to save others from commitment negative acts  or to propel them further to the path then I think it qualifies as skillful means.

Midakpa

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Re: Can lying ever be considered 'skillful means'?
« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2012, 05:13:11 PM »
Yes, "lying" is one of the skillful means used by the spiritual guide to help sentient beings. But we must regard this action as pure. If we look at the action as a fault or mistake, then it becomes an obstacle to achieving enlightenment.

In a text written by the root guru of H.H. Trulshig Rinpoche it is said:

"Even the action of cheating others with lies is guiding all sentient beings in the path to liberation with one of the various means of method and wisdom."


Losang_Tenpa

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Re: Can lying ever be considered 'skillful means'?
« Reply #17 on: February 16, 2012, 05:56:11 PM »
Yes, "lying" is one of the skillful means used by the spiritual guide to help sentient beings. But we must regard this action as pure. If we look at the action as a fault or mistake, then it becomes an obstacle to achieving enlightenment.In a text written by the root guru of H.H. Trulshig Rinpoche it is said:

"Even the action of cheating others with lies is guiding all sentient beings in the path to liberation with one of the various means of method and wisdom."

I am sorry but this sounds completely ridiculous. Throwing and obscure quote without providing the text name and where one can check this for oneself is not too convincing. Also, I am pretty sure Trulshik Rinpoche is a Nyingma Lama....do you have any quotes by a Gelug Master?

This issue has really tested me on many levels. After much thinking and talking with a few Lamas.....I have decided it is safer to trust Teachers who do not feel compelled to use many lies as 'skillful means'. One of the Rinpoches said lying for any other reason than something 100% absolutely necessary is not skillful means, it is just lying. That clarified much for me.

This issue for me is that if one justifies lying, where does it stop? Maybe the whole basis of the Lam Rim is just a bunch of lies used as skillful means to compell us to become better people. This is a troublesome precedent. 

'Skillful means' are used in many situations I am sure, and I can't pretend to understand how Lamas operate, so I am still trying to keep my mind open on this one.  :)

DS Star

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Re: Can lying ever be considered 'skillful means'?
« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2012, 02:59:59 PM »
I guess, for some, a lie is a still a lie be it a white lie or otherwise. I think, Pabongka Rinpoche, in 'Liberation in the Palm of You Hand' ( the Lamrim), gave a skillful way of avoiding lying, even if lying,by saying that the victim had gone another way, was valid as a means to save a life. He says that if a would-be murderer were chasing his victim and asked one where he had gone, one could avoid lying by saying something irrelevant to the question asked by the murderer -to-be, like 'Oh dear! I've forgotten to buy some butter on the way home'. It's a fact and, at the same time, it'll put the murderer-to-be off the scent of the victim.

Dear Vajrastorm,

I remember reading in Bodhisattva's vows that one ought to lie if by lying one can help to save another person. In fact one will break his/her Bodhisattva vows if he/she did not lie to save the other person in such situation by thinking of not wanting to break the lying vow. It was explained that the non-lying vow is considered as 'lower' compared to Bodhisattva vows.

In this case, the motivation and the 'situation' warrant one to lie to save another person or sentient being. This is not a case of skillful mean anymore  ;)

DS Star

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Re: Can lying ever be considered 'skillful means'?
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2012, 02:38:13 AM »
I just found the related info on the Bodhisattva Vows regarding my earlier post. It is in the Forty-Six Secondary Downfalls - under the Downfalls Related to Morality:

10. complying with the minor precepts when the situation demands one's disregard of them for the better benefit of others

11. not committing one of the seven negative actions of body, speech and mind when universal love and compassion deem it necessary in the particular instance

However we must be carefl not to use these as excuse not to observe ouriitial vows related to morality. it was mentioned in the item 9 of the same section.

(9)  not observing the precepts of moral conduct because one wishes to ingratiate oneself with others
There is often a great temptation to do something harmful just to get respect from others. This is what the second of the downfalls connected to morality is about.


We can see that in our everyday life. Lama Tsong Khapa, however, uses the examples of the fully ordained monk. For them, it is wrong to try to impress people by saying they are helping others simply because they have taken the Bodhisattva vows and because of that the lower vows are irrelevant. Or that they can break their Bodhisattva vows because they have taken Tantric vows, which are higher.


Here is the link to the text in full:

http://www.bodhicitta.net/BODHISATTVAVOWS.htm

Q

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Re: Can lying ever be considered 'skillful means'?
« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2012, 06:10:40 PM »
Here is a question that has been on my mind:

When, if ever, can lying and misrepresenting the truth be considered 'skillful means'?

I know of the story about the burning house, but what about other examples?

I think lying no matter what is still a negative action. However what makes the difference is the motivation behind the lie (or any particular negative action that we conduct)

For example... If someone killed a person... we all know that he/she will enter the lower realm, notably Hell realm. Supposing one person killed just for the fun of it, while the other killed with the motivation to save all the kids from a person that was about to bomb a school. Both of them would collect bad karma and definitely enter hell... However, the person with the good motivation... although he/she may be reborn in hell realm, they will take a more swift fortunate rebirth as the karma for that misconduct burns out faster compared to a person without a good motivation.

I used this scenario to explain because I've read this explanation from somewhere before... (sry I cant remember which book i read it from). And the reason we can use the similar explanation for the situation when we lie is because both of it are considered a misconduct.

lotus1

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Re: Can lying ever be considered 'skillful means'?
« Reply #21 on: February 20, 2012, 11:08:43 PM »
Thank you Hope Rainbow from sharing on if lying is a skillful means from the perspective of motivation and also gave the example of “The Ugly Dress”.
I believe that whatever action that we have done, has it cause and effect, be it positive or negative.
I am still not Buddha yet, and I’m sure my motivation is not 100% pure. Therefore, in most situation, I will not lie so as not to create negative karma. Under certain circumstances, if I lie and I believe can help to situation to be better, I will do it but I do take responsibility of my action of lying. I think the most important of all is not whether we should lie or not. The important is that we should do more good and avoid more actions that may harm others. In this way, we can create more causes from going down to the three lower realms and moving a step forward to our spiritual goals. 

brian

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Re: Can lying ever be considered 'skillful means'?
« Reply #22 on: February 24, 2012, 09:35:47 AM »
Here is a question that has been on my mind:

When, if ever, can lying and misrepresenting the truth be considered 'skillful means'?

I know of the story about the burning house, but what about other examples?

i believe it is down to the motivation of the liar really. if the sole motivation is just to protect someone from being killed, i feel this is a good motivation and not intended to harm anyone. I remembered in one of the Dharma talk that i have attended many years ago that if an intention is to harm by lying then it is bad karma. so when you lied about something to prevent or trying to promote anything that is good (in this case maybe about Dorje Shugden) in order many more can learn and develop interest in the practice, then i will consider this is a skillful means.

i have a very strong feeling that His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama is using skillful means in this "Banning the practice of Dorje Shugden"

Jessie Fong

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Re: Can lying ever be considered 'skillful means'?
« Reply #23 on: March 17, 2012, 08:22:55 AM »
Here's a situation : I was pulled over by the cop recently for talking on my mobile while driving - I had one hand  on the steering, the other holding my mobile.

Cop taps on my door : Please show me your driver's license and ID card.
Me : What did I do wrong?
Cop : You were on your mobile while driving.

My instant reaction : anger --- (1) at myself for having answered that call (2) at the caller calling me at the wrong time (3) at myself for not using the headset.

I had to think fast to wrangle myself out of this situation - I don't like having to deal with cops.

Cop : Don't you have a headset? Why did you not use it?
Me : I rushed out leaving my headset at home.  My director's P.A. called about an urgent situation. Our store clerk had fallen ill and was in a bad situation.  I was the one staying nearest to the store so I was asked to go and help out.
Cop : [takes a look at my ID --- my address shows I stay 2 roads away from the store] - You know it's an offense to talk on your mobile while driving?  I will have to issue you a ticket for that.
Me : [pleading] - please, my store clerk needs medical attention immediately. Kindly do not issue that ticket.
Cop : [after some more pleading from me .... ] Next time you won't get off so easily. By the way, please wear your safety belt as you drive off.

How did I feel?
* Relieved!!!!!!! I got myself out of the situation.
* Oh no --- I lied - there was never a store clerk that needed medical attention.

Now was that "skilful means" to get myself out of the hands of the law?










Dondrup Shugden

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Re: Can lying ever be considered 'skillful means'?
« Reply #24 on: May 13, 2015, 09:36:32 AM »
I suppose lying can be considered 'skilful means' depending on the person lying and the intention behind it.

If the lying obviously produces results that benefit others or at the very least does not harm anyone then it may be skilful means.

Who is to be the judge as the liar is also the judge, as it is all an internal conversation.  If we think that we lie with skill and with good intention, will we be tempted to lie again and not consider the intention?

It is really hard call to make.  Personally I would do my best to refrain from lying and break one of my refuge vows.

Midakpa

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Re: Can lying ever be considered 'skillful means'?
« Reply #25 on: May 17, 2015, 02:04:16 PM »
Lying is the fourth non-virtue and is considered to be breaking a root vow. So unless our motivation is based on bodhicitta, it is best not to commit this non-virtue. As mentioned earlier by Vajrastorm, a valid reason for lying is to save a life as well as to prevent someone from creating heavy negative karma. Thus the motivation behind the deed is important. If one is motivated by compassion, then the deed can be considered as "skillful means". Also, there must be four conditions for a bodhisattva vow to be considered as broken completely: (1) you know you are breaking a vow but you do not regard what you have done as a mistake, (2) You do not regret the action and you do not turn away from thinking to repeat this action, (3) You rejoice and are happy for what you have done, and (4) You have no shame or consideration for others. You do not care about the consequences of your action for yourself or for others. Are all these conditions present at the time of lying? If not, then there is no complete transgression of the vow.

lotus1

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Re: Can lying ever be considered 'skillful means'?
« Reply #26 on: May 21, 2015, 06:31:04 AM »
Lying is the fourth non-virtue and is considered to be breaking a root vow. So unless our motivation is based on bodhicitta, it is best not to commit this non-virtue. As mentioned earlier by Vajrastorm, a valid reason for lying is to save a life as well as to prevent someone from creating heavy negative karma. Thus the motivation behind the deed is important. If one is motivated by compassion, then the deed can be considered as "skillful means". Also, there must be four conditions for a bodhisattva vow to be considered as broken completely: (1) you know you are breaking a vow but you do not regard what you have done as a mistake, (2) You do not regret the action and you do not turn away from thinking to repeat this action, (3) You rejoice and are happy for what you have done, and (4) You have no shame or consideration for others. You do not care about the consequences of your action for yourself or for others. Are all these conditions present at the time of lying? If not, then there is no complete transgression of the vow.

Agreed Midakpa. Yes, we are not Buddha and I am sure most of us cannot 100% said our motivation is 100% based on Bodhicitta. We may said it is a white lies, but how sure we are that our motivation is 100% pure bodhicitta or just finding excuses for us to feel better? Although there are 4 conditions that to show one has broken the vos to be considered as broken completely, it is still best not to commit this non-virtue.
However, best part of Buddhism is, please do not feel it is the end of the world if we have lie. We still have chance. Confess our wrong actions and use the four opponent power to expiate it, do more purification actions and do more good deeds.

The law of karma & vows is positive, it is helping us to be a good person. ;)