Author Topic: A Buddhist beginners question regarding Rightful speech.  (Read 1248 times)

Offline phij

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A Buddhist beginners question regarding Rightful speech.
« on: May 08, 2016, 07:15:00 am »
A good day to you all.

As Ive recently became genuinely interested in Buddhism I've taken a look at it's core and the teachings. Having read many articles and watch several videos from well-known monks I've come to a part where I believe I shall be struggeling the most due to my former nature and current lifestyle/work.

The Right Speech teeaches us to speek thruthful. Therefore to abstain from divisie speech, abusive speech, idle chatter and lies. Every article I've read abstaining from lies is the first in this order, I've deliberatly placed it last due to this beeing the part I find most difficult of all and I in need of guidance to help myself speeking truthful.

In my youth I was a reble to put it kindly. I did not think about my actions and never looked upon anyone that was close to me, let alone those that weren't. Becoming older I've seen the errors in my ways and have come to the part where I wish to end this part of myself, however I've told lies my entire life and do not know anything else to be honest. I've been telling lies my entire life to spice it up or to get something I desire. But also there have been lies told in order not to harm the other person.
I've come to regret nearly all lies I've told and it also came to a point where I could no longer tell my own lies from truth, nor remember the lies I've told when I had to repeat them.

In work this also has become a problem when thinking about it. I work as a salesman and in order to sell my (the companies) product I have to market the product in a way that the buyer will buy it. I do love doing my work, however I can not help but notice that in order to make a sale it does sometimes comes down to a plain old lie.
I.E. Most of the time I tell my (potential) customer I own the prodcut myself and it works like a charm, where in truth I don't own this and do not know for a fact that it works like a charm. In my views I do not aim to harm the other person with my lie, however I do intentionally deceive the customer in order to make a sale and in doing so make my boss a happy man.
I have come to the point where I believe this has to stop and tasked myself with abstaining from lies and deceit. I've started this task 1st of May this year (2016) and to be honest I haven't gotten through a day without telling a lie so far. I feel ashamed of myself to put it mildly. At first I believed not telling lies wouldn't be that hard, however beeing a week into my task it proves to be incredibly difficult.

I have no idea to which extends the teachings go as it comes to telling lies of deceiving people on purpose when those lies and deceits are not for personal gain but those of my boss. I also mentioned telling lies out of selfless actions, I already have my answer to that question, only I am to blame for those and as mentioned I came to regret those.
As I see it I'm facing a modern day problem with ancient teachings, those teachings can not have forseen the way we live today. Also quiting my job and finding another will be a round I'm not willing to walk due to bills that must be paid and food that must be bought in order to life the life that I currently have.

As a last note I'd like some insight in a different part of this noble truth. I've done things in my life I do not wish to share, these things have nothing to do with harm to others or deceiving others, they do however include an abundance of shame on my part should anyone find out. It is known that buddhist do not lie, however I've learned in a vrey harsh way that people are not all kind and some seek to exploit weaknesses of others. This shame I'm talking about could possibly the most mentaly painfull moment of my life should anyone find out.
Therefore I'd like to know how one (a Buddhist) goes about answering questions that aim to have pain, suffering, shame and harm as the outcome?
I've been bullied for nearly 5 years in my youth and I know first hand what mental pain is like. This part of myself that as of yet is my own secret could very well bring me the same kinds of discomfort I've had in the years I've been bullied. That is a level of pain I choose never to experience again if possible. To put in in perspective, the death of my favorite grandpa was less painfull then the years of bullying.

After writing this I've come to see that this might be a long topic and so I'd like to summarize my quesions down here for those that do not wish to read the whole topic.
1. Can we use the ancient Buddhist teachings to solve modern day problems regarding telling lies at work and deliberately deceiving customers in order to make the boss happy?
2. Is telling a lie to not harm another allowed?
3. How does one answer questions when the outcome of the question is aimed at harm, pain (mentally), suffering and shame?
4. Could anyone provide insight in how to stop lying? I know this might sound like a stupid question, but having done so my entire life I've come to a point where I no longer know a different way. Every advice is appreciated.

I do thank you if you can find the time to answer any of my questions and wish you all a very nice day.

Offline lily

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Re: A Buddhist beginners question regarding Rightful speech.
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2016, 05:57:13 pm »
Hi Phij,

Yes I've also found right speech to be a challenge! Not just lying, but in other regards as well.

I was raised Christian so it's always been in my consciousness that one should avoid lying. However, I think as a young child I didn't worry too much about it. But as an adult, when I came to study Buddhism, I was made to look at that more seriously.

About your example of lying at work--I think it can be easier to follow the precepts if we are blessed enough to find right livelihood. Some jobs are just harder to follow certain moral codes (in my opinion anyhow.) But in your example I would make an effort to work on how to present  the product in a truthful way. Maybe you`ve heard other customers praise the worth and quality of the product--then you could tell your other potential customers the truth about that rather than say you`ve used it yourself with great results.

Right speech, I think, takes practice. How to be truthful and not hurtful. How to know when it is beneficial to say something when our own muddled egos are involved.

I do actually think it is very possible to continue to use ancient Buddhist texts as a guide to life nowadays. When I read the sutas I see so much that is similar in  humanity back then compared to now. I don't really think times have changed all that much (you can bet that there would be people in the market place back then facing similar dilemmas about promoting their products.)

In terms of tips of how to stop lying--I've found that in trying to follow all the precepts, the first step is the intention to do so. Seeing the benefit of doing so helps, reflecting on how lies have not served your well-being. Then just working to integrate these ideas into your life. We won't get it right every time but we can try our best, while forgiving ourselves and others when we fall short of the ideal.

Thank you for raising this topic--I've enjoyed reflecting on it!

Offline philboyd

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Re: A Buddhist beginners question regarding Rightful speech.
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2016, 08:46:45 pm »
Perhaps a review of right intention and right view could help you.


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