Day before New Moon Day: There are enough nails in Buddhism’s coffin. Let’s not add any more.

May 22, 2009

It is said that during the Bodhisatta’s training for Buddhahood over an inconceivable number of lifetimes he was unable to tell a lie, such was his commitment to truth.

We often hear people saying that there are instances when lying is skilful, even compassionate. But lying is never skilful. As soon as we lie we are deserting the path to truth. 

And once we say, “Well, it’s all right to lie for this reason…” where do we draw the line? And what kind of example are we setting for others? If a teacher says you can lie for reasons of compassion then that neatly defined boundary that kept unskilful actions at bay suddenly becomes blurred: “Well, is it all right to lie for this reason?…” 

It’s funny that some people think that if you can’t lie then you’re going to be blunt and hurt people’s feelings. That it’s black and white. But just because we don’t like our wife’s new dress doesn’t mean we have to tell her so! There is such a thing as tact: we don’t have to tell her it’s the most abominable creation that’s ever come within our field of vision. 

These precepts are like threads which, when compromised, wither and eventually snap. They are then incapable of helping to pull us out of our suffering; incapable of enabling us to see the truth.

Unfortunately we see the precepts being compromised a lot these days. I heard of a prominent member of a famous Buddhist organisation in London talking about ordering a bottle of brandy while he was on holiday. And he said that in a Dhamma talk!  Another nail in Buddhism’s coffin.

That’s all for now. I’m off to the Trossachs for a solitary retreat. Och eye the noo.

3 Responses to “Day before New Moon Day: There are enough nails in Buddhism’s coffin. Let’s not add any more.”

  1. Tim Hurst said

    Try and snap a pic of Nessy!

    Metta

  2. Justin said

    I don’t know if it’s true but I heard that the one precept the future Buddha never broke in the Jatakas was the precept agaisnt lying. Be well and I hope your retreat goes well.

  3. Tahn Manapo said

    Hi Tim,

    Missed Nessy.

    Hi Justin,

    We should feel very strongly about this precept. It actually makes you very skilful and really exercises your mindfulness and wisdom when you stick firmly to it. You become very skilful with your speech, and quick-thinking too.

    We hear of people saying that for the wellbeing of a relationship they need to tell little untruths to keep things running smoothly (i.e. saying they like the dress/trousers when they don’t). It makes you wonder what kind of relationship that is.

    Back from the retreat. It was good.

    Cheers

    Tahn Manapo

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