It’s okay to say a white lie. ya ?
White Lie, what on earth is that? I thought only one type of lies exists. Dark ... Black Lies
No no, white lies are the ones you say to escape from a difficult situation. Lies you say when you want to save someone from harm, Lies that doesn't harm anyone. You see... they are quite harmless and are many times so useful. I don’t understand why anyone says no to a white lie.
Oh I see....
Lets get back to the basics. People lie not only because they are afraid of getting hurt. There are 4 basic reasons for a person to lie.
- Chanda - Liking/being partial
Ex: - I like you, So I will save you by saying this lie ..
- Dvesha - Hatred
Ex: - I hate you, I will say wrong things about you so that you will get in trouble
- Bhaya - Fear
Ex: - Oh no, I’m screwed if my boss find this out, lets fool him
- Moha - Delusion
Ex: - Hey lets tell Jonny that his laptop was stolen and see his reactions. it would be so much fun ... ha ha ha !
Venerable Rerukane Chandavilama has summarized this whole concept of lying (and other ill deeds) in a very logical and profound way. The way I understood it, what he says is this,
- If you lie to save a 50 Cents, then your percepts/devotion to the path are worth only 50 cents ... Not more than that. Put a 50 cents in to one side of the scale and your devotion to practice to the other side, 50 cents side goes down... Ah ... All your devotion, practice, promises to keep percepts, understanding and respect for your beliefs can be purchased for 50 cents. Believe it or not … you are a 50 cents Buddhist.
- If you lie to save 10 Dollars, then your percepts/devotion to the path are worth only 10 Dollars. Not more than that... you are a 10 Dollar Buddhist.
- If you get panicked and lie just because you noticed otherwise you would loose 1000 Dollars, then your percepts/devotion to the path are worth only 1000 Dollars. Not more than that.
- If you lie to save a friend, then your percepts/devotion to the path doesn’t worth more than your friend. Friendship is more important.
- If you lie to save your self getting harmed, then your percepts/devotion to the path are worth only as much as how much you value your body or body parts. Not more than that...
- If you lie to save your life, then your percepts/devotion to the path are worth only as much as your life is worth. Not more than that...
By using this scale, one can measure their strength/devotion to the practice. If you are a 10-dollar Buddhist, you should learn and practice the path so you can become a 100 Dollar Buddhist, a person who can laugh and brush out a loss of 100 dollars by adhering to his/her percepts.
Going down the path, if one can analyze themselves and notice that even if I loose my life, I can not say this lie, then he/she should understand that their saththis Bodhipakkhiyādhammā (37 factors of enlightenment) have developed in to a profound stage and they are not too far from the divine fruits along the path.
More one gets to know the dharma, and more one understands the value and benefits of percepts and the fruits that can be gained through walking down in the eight fold path, more one develops his/her wisdom, it becomes increasingly hard to lie. Its not something one has to make much efforts in. It becomes a natural way of living. It can come to a point where one starts wondering, how on earth did I lie before ... even if I make an effort I can’t do it now.
As you can see it all bubbles down in to the stage of development of faculties of each individual.
For example, one may know that lying is not right. But he may not have the will power (viriya) to refrain from it. Or he may lacks mindfulness (sathi), so he will spit out the lie and then regret later for his hasty reply.
There is nothing called a white lie. All lies are perfectly black. It's ones lack of wisdom that stops him/her from seeing the true color of it. Don’t assign colors in to things you can not see. Get your eyesight fixed!
Oh wait ... There are situations where one have to give an answer. What on earth I should do. I don’t want to lie. But how can I escape from that type of difficult situations ?
- Well, lets see some alternatives,Once people around you get to know that you don’t lie, even with out their knowing, with in their hearts they develops certain kind of respect towards you. This is not instantaneous. Don’t rush it by boasting around.
It develops over time by seeing your nature and the way of living. Once they have this feeing in their hearts, they will stop asking questions that put you in to a difficult situation. They respect your values and they themselves dont want you to break them. This is basic human instinct. People don’t want to break the faith they had on someone, because that will make them unhappy. Who wants to be unhappy? No one, right?
- Smile and not answer. People will understand and respect your decision to not answer. If they don’t have the class, then you can dive in to their level of cause and say. "Well, I don’t want to say anything about it"... Case closed.
- Most powerful one of all is strategic speaking – (Oh no … I’m going to get busted in here. But for everyone’s good I will share this...) in order for this to work, one has to be mindful and should grasp the situation properly. It’s not for the diluted minds or for the unwise, because then instead of tactical speaking they may simply lie. To be good in tactical speaking one has to understand what makes a lie a lie.
- Knowing that what you say is a lie
- The intention to fool other
- Forming/creating the lie
- Conveying the lie to the other
- Person who received the lie believed in it
Contemplate on these 5 factors and fully grasp the concept behind each one. Then one can use that knowledge to avoid lying by speaking tactically.
For example lets contemplate a bit on the forth step. Conveying the lie to the other. Notice the use of the word conveying. You don’t have to speak out a lie to make a lie. One can give a statement to the court that can be filled with lies. That’s lying. One can show an innocent person to the law enforcement officers by pointing a finger at him. That’s lying. One can state a lie casually to a different person knowing that the person who he wants to fool is listening in the background. That’s lying. Contemplate on other factors similar to this way.
let's see some examples:
Q: Did you go there? ...
A: Do you think I will ever go there?
This is an open-ended question that you put back to the asker. He will stop any further questions, just to stop an uncomfortable situation. If he cross-question, it will surely sounds rude. And shows that he thinks low of you. No one wants to be rude. Right? So we use that for our advantage.
Q: Who unleashed the dog?
A: Ah, haven’t you noticed that dog sometimes unlashes itself?
In here you just told a fact. You haven’t answered the question. But you gave an impression that you did answer it.
If other party believed that you didn't do it, it’s not your fault. They are just foolish to not to comprehend the situation properly and jumping in to conclusions with out proper facts. Not your fault.
Q: Damn ... Who the hell ate my pizza?
A: Oh someone drank my entire bottle of juice too.... bloody rogues ...
I hope you didn't steal that guy’s pizza. Hopefully you knew who did it and didn’t want to reveal it so that you can avoid a conflict.
In your answer you passed a statement, which sounds like someone stole your bottle of juice. But that someone can be you too. You drank your juice bottle last night. Opened the fridge in the morning and exclaimed!!! , Oh no who drank my juice bottle?. This makes the first person wonder, Oh this poor guy is also in trouble. Even he doesn't know who did it.
Did you lie?? Of cause no ... But did you avoid a conflict that might have arose from your speech? Yes sure you did.
My intention here is not to make you a crook who never gets caught. So use these tactics sparingly to develop your practice. Not to degrade it.
99 % of uncomfortable situations can be avoided this way. Rest ... lets hope that never comes....