Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

Postby Stephen K » Sat Feb 04, 2012 4:41 pm

For example, if, for some reason you don't want to be bothered, you pretend to be asleep when you're not -- do actions such as these break the 4th precept?
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Re: Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sat Feb 04, 2012 5:18 pm

I think that this precept only concerns samma-vaca, and in particular, false speech but I could be wrong.
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Re: Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Feb 04, 2012 5:29 pm

yes it does, if you communicate (which can be both verbal and physical) and what you communicate is misleading then you break the precept.

just the same way the first of the panca/attha sila can be broken verbally, yet it is a physical action, this can be broken through physical action also.

it comes down to the intention at the end of the day, and if you intend to break the first 4 indirectly (meaning not breaking the strict letter of the rule) (the fifth can not be broken without actually doing it oneself, but can be tarnished verbally through encouraging others to do it) it still breaks the precept, or at the very least tarnishes it.
Last edited by Cittasanto on Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

Postby bodom » Sat Feb 04, 2012 6:32 pm

I have to agree it does. Lying can be conveyed through body language. For example someone could ask you a question that you know the answer too and you could shrug your shoulders implying you do not know. While this example may not be specifically spelled out in the standard sutta definition of wrong speech, there is still the intention to deceive so to me it is still lying.

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Re: Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Feb 04, 2012 7:33 pm

Stefan wrote:For example, if, for some reason you don't want to be bothered, you pretend to be asleep when you're not -- do actions such as these break the 4th precept?


Of course it does. Though I think the example you gave does not necessarily qualify, if you are resting and don't want to be disturbed why should you respond.
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Re: Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

Postby David2 » Sat Feb 04, 2012 8:29 pm

Goofaholix wrote:Though I think the example you gave does not necessarily qualify, if you are resting and don't want to be disturbed why should you respond.


Yes, what if one asks you a question, you know the answer, but you don't give an answer.
I don't think this breaks the 4th precept. The Buddha also did not answer every question he was asked.

So you can't break the 4th precept without speaking or moving the body.
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Re: Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Feb 04, 2012 8:34 pm

David2 wrote:I don't think this breaks the 4th precept. The Buddha also did not answer every question he was asked.


I agree.

A good example of what Stefan is talking about is if somebody asked you "which one?" and you deliberately pointed to the wrong one.

Whereas to me lying down with your eyes closed is like having a do not disturb sign around your neck, you should be entitled to not respond if someone is not respecting that.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Feb 04, 2012 8:46 pm

David2 wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:Though I think the example you gave does not necessarily qualify, if you are resting and don't want to be disturbed why should you respond.


Yes, what if one asks you a question, you know the answer, but you don't give an answer.
I don't think this breaks the 4th precept. The Buddha also did not answer every question he was asked.

So you can't break the 4th precept without speaking or moving the body.

depends on why you don't give an answer, is it for their benefit or for yours, both or neither?
might be easier to explain, rather than pretend you are asleep when you are awake!
sounds like the buddha talked about that sort of thing SN 42.2
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Re: Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

Postby Fede » Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:42 pm

It's a form of deception.
The Buddha didn't 'not answer' because he didn't want to be bothered.
He also (afaik) did not 'pretend he didn't hear the question'.
the Buddha refrained from responding for worthwhile Dhamma-teaching reasons....

the one question you can never lie to, is 'are you asleep?'
(Or 'are you awake?')

It's a really simple thing to say,
"I'm sorry, I'm really tired, can this wait?"
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

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Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

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Re: Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

Postby daverupa » Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:18 am

Is it not the case that some brahmins and contemplatives are denigrated in the Suttas as those who "do not answer when called"? I think it was in the context of ascetic ritual being mistakenly seen as efficacious, but perhaps it connects to this topic... alas, I'm unable to find the relevant passage.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

Postby Goofaholix » Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:28 am

Fede wrote:It's a really simple thing to say,
"I'm sorry, I'm really tired, can this wait?"


It's simple, but if you are at the point where you are drifting off to sleep but are still somewhat lucid it pulls you back to wakefulness, you might struggle to get back to sleep again. I just don't see why you should feel obligated, the signs are there for the person to see, should you have to answer the phone in such a situation when that's the answerphone's job?
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

Postby chownah » Sun Feb 05, 2012 5:50 am

Do magic tricks break the 4th precept?
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Re: Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

Postby Fede » Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:48 am

Goofaholix wrote:
Fede wrote:It's a really simple thing to say,
"I'm sorry, I'm really tired, can this wait?"


It's simple, but if you are at the point where you are drifting off to sleep but are still somewhat lucid it pulls you back to wakefulness, you might struggle to get back to sleep again. I just don't see why you should feel obligated, the signs are there for the person to see, should you have to answer the phone in such a situation when that's the answerphone's job?


I agree.
However, examine Stefan'as comment:
you pretend to be asleep when you're not --

so there is deliberate deception here.
the person makes a deliberate decision to make others believe s/he is in a specific state when clearly, they are not....
There is no mention of a 'point where you are drifting off to sleep'....
Stefan is asking whether deception without words is still 'lying'.
In my opinion, it is.

chownah wrote:Do magic tricks break the 4th precept?
chownah

Of course not.
It's deception 'in plain sight'.
People take fro granted that there is sleight of hand. It's a given.
The one thing they seek to do when watching a magic trick is to see how it's done so skilfully.

I'm amazed by a young magician in the UK known as 'Dynamo'.
Not going to take it off-topic, but google him and prepare to be amazed.
The predominant question after every trick, is "how did he do that?"
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

Postby chownah » Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:23 pm

Fede,
I think that how one reacts to magic tricks is dependent on many things and a strong influence is culture...and age. Children are often not aware that it is slight of hand for instance....and I think that in India for example there are a lot of people who believe that it is really magic in certain magical things that are done in some ceremonies there. Some Catholics believe that the wine actually becomes blood during communion....although I'm not declaring absolutely that this is a magic trick as I have never been Catholic and so have never taken their communion....maybe it does really change into blood....I don't know....
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Re: Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

Postby Fede » Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:40 pm

Ah.
Well it would have helped the discussion if you has been more specific initially, I think. Thank you for clarifying.
The intention behind the trick is the deciding factor.
Is it to amaze, or wilfully deceive?

The bread and wine during Catholic communion, is not seen as a 'magic trick' but as divine transformation and a question of faith.
most Catholics I know can't get their head round this, and don't even try. To most, it's symbolic rather than factual.
being an ex-Catholic, i cogitated on this for some time. then stopped, as i really couldn't be asked to consider it any more....
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


http://www.armchairadvice.co.uk/relationships/forum/
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Re: Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

Postby mirco » Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:11 pm

Stefan wrote:For example, if, for some reason you don't want to be bothered, you pretend to be asleep when you're not -- do actions such as these break the 4th precept?

Without having read the preceding posts and besides what has been answered concerning the sila:

How does it feel to do it? Does it help to get more clarity and calmness of mind?

That's what the silas are about: Behaviour to help calming the mind, helpfull in for reducing the mental hindrances to come up.

So, you can decide yourself, if your (whatever) behaviour is helpfull or not by observing which mental states are following.

Of course, some effects take longer to emerge. And if there are to many hindrances to observe mind at all, there at last is some kind of gut feeling, what is helpfull.


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Re: Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

Postby Goofaholix » Sun Feb 05, 2012 7:43 pm

Fede wrote:I agree.
However, examine Stefan'as comment:
you pretend to be asleep when you're not --

so there is deliberate deception here.
the person makes a deliberate decision to make others believe s/he is in a specific state when clearly, they are not....
There is no mention of a 'point where you are drifting off to sleep'....
Stefan is asking whether deception without words is still 'lying'.
In my opinion, it is.


Perhaps I don't see the distinction, to me if you're lying down with your eyes closed there is pretty much only one purpose, the fact that at times you may be in a state where you are semi lucid and aware of your surroundings does not alter the purpose.

I guess Stefan may be talking about a scenario where you've adopted this pose in the hope that it will make somebody will go away, then plan to continue on with your wakeful activities after they're gone, then I agree this is deception.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Does non-verbal deception break 4th precept

Postby Stephen K » Sun Feb 05, 2012 7:45 pm

Goofaholix wrote:I guess Stefan may be talking about a scenario where you've adopted this pose in the hope that it will make somebody will go away, then plan to continue on with your wakeful activities after they're gone, then I agree this is deception.

Yes, that is exactly what I meant.


Thanks everyone for your input!
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