Magic tricks and lying

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Laurens
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Magic tricks and lying

Post by Laurens »

What do you guys think about being deceptive for the purposes of entertainment?

In order to do a card trick for instance, one might have to say 'your card is lost in the pack' when in actual fact you know exactly where it is.

Would you say this is morally wrong? Why or why not?
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

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Laurens
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Re: Magic tricks and lying

Post by Laurens »

My thoughts:

It's not morally wrong so long as one isn't passing off tricks as supernatural powers. People who go to see or agree to having a magic trick performed before them are generally knowing that they are being tricked or deceived somehow, yet they agree to it because they derive entertainment from the appearance of the impossible being done before them. Most tricks require that the performer lie in order to make them convincing, but it's all a part of the act and the audience expects that. They make no claims that their act is not trickery.

Where it becomes wrong is if, for instance someone performs a mind reading trick under the pretence that it's an actual ability, rather than a cunning deception. This is wrong in my view because it is not being "honestly deceptive" like the magician performing tricks being clear they are just tricks.

I'd be interested to hear other people's thoughts.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
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confusedlayman
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Re: Magic tricks and lying

Post by confusedlayman »

Laurens wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:41 am What do you guys think about being deceptive for the purposes of entertainment?

In order to do a card trick for instance, one might have to say 'your card is lost in the pack' when in actual fact you know exactly where it is.

Would you say this is morally wrong? Why or why not?
white lies are lie
I may be slow learner but im at least learning...
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Sam Vara
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Re: Magic tricks and lying

Post by Sam Vara »

I agree with Laurens on this one. The audience are willingly suspending their disbelief for the purposes of entertainment. That convention is normally understood.

Of course, one may wish to avoid all entertainments. The same applies to reading fiction out loud. I don't consider myself in breach of the precept when reading to my children.
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Kim OHara
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Re: Magic tricks and lying

Post by Kim OHara »

Sam Vara wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 8:46 am I agree with Laurens on this one. ...
So do I.

:namaste:
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Laurens
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Re: Magic tricks and lying

Post by Laurens »

confusedlayman wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 8:37 am
white lies are lie
Technically yes. But that doesn't mean all instances of lying are morally wrong.

For example say you are waiting somewhere with a friend and to pass the time you decide to play a game where you say 2 lies and 1 truth and the game is to guess which is true. Both individuals involved know there are going to be lies told, but it's done harmlessly for the purposes of entertainment and passing the time.

I don't think you can say that in this case lying is a bad thing. You might say that idle chatter isn't ideal, but it's not wrong
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Magic tricks and lying

Post by Ceisiwr »

Laurens

All entertainers generate bad kamma and go to a lower realm post death:
“Sir, I have heard that the dancers of the past who were teachers of teachers said: ‘Suppose a dancer entertains and amuses people on a stage or at a festival with truth and lies. When their body breaks up, after death, they’re reborn in the company of laughing gods.’ What does the Buddha say about this?”

“Clearly, chief, I’m not getting through to you when I say: ‘Enough, chief, let it be. Don’t ask me that.’ Nevertheless, I will answer you.

When sentient beings are still not free of greed, and are still bound by greed, a dancer in a stage or festival presents them with even more arousing things. When sentient beings are still not free of hate, and are still bound by hate, a dancer in a stage or festival presents them with even more hateful things. When sentient beings are still not free of delusion, and are still bound by delusion, a dancer in a stage or festival presents them with even more delusory things. And so, being heedless and negligent themselves, they’ve encouraged others to be heedless and negligent. When their body breaks up, after death, they’re reborn in the hell called ‘Laughter’.

But if you have such a view: ‘Suppose a dancer entertains and amuses people on a stage or at a festival with truth and lies. When their body breaks up, after death, they’re reborn in the company of laughing gods.’ This is your wrong view. An individual with wrong view is reborn in one of two places, I say: hell or the animal realm.”

When he said this, Tāḷapuṭa cried and burst out in tears.

“This is what I didn’t get through to you when I said: ‘Enough, chief, let it be. Don’t ask me that.’”

“Sir, I’m not crying because of what the Buddha said. But sir, for a long time I’ve been cheated, tricked, and deceived by the dancers of the past who were teachers of teachers, who said: ‘Suppose a dancer entertains and amuses people on a stage or at a festival with truth and lies. When their body breaks up, after death, they’re reborn in the company of laughing gods.’
https://suttacentral.net/sn42.2/en/sujato
“Aṅgulimāla, I have forever stopped"

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Ceisiwr
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Re: Magic tricks and lying

Post by Ceisiwr »

confusedlayman wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 8:37 am
Laurens wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:41 am What do you guys think about being deceptive for the purposes of entertainment?

In order to do a card trick for instance, one might have to say 'your card is lost in the pack' when in actual fact you know exactly where it is.

Would you say this is morally wrong? Why or why not?
white lies are lie
:goodpost:
“Aṅgulimāla, I have forever stopped"

MN 86
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Magic tricks and lying

Post by Ceisiwr »

Laurens
Technically yes. But that doesn't mean all instances of lying are morally wrong.
In terms of the Dhamma they are.
For example say you are waiting somewhere with a friend and to pass the time you decide to play a game where you say 2 lies and 1 truth and the game is to guess which is true. Both individuals involved know there are going to be lies told, but it's done harmlessly for the purposes of entertainment and passing the time.

I don't think you can say that in this case lying is a bad thing. You might say that idle chatter isn't ideal, but it's not wrong
As far as I'm aware lying even if for the purposes of a joke is bad kamma.
Suppose there was a royal bull elephant with tusks like plows, able to draw a heavy load, pedigree and battle-hardened. In battle it uses its fore-feet and hind-feet, its fore-quarters and hind-quarters, its head, ears, tusks, and tail, but it still protects its trunk. So its rider thinks: ‘This royal bull elephant still protects its trunk. It has not fully dedicated its life.’ But when that royal bull elephant … in battle uses its fore-feet and hind-feet, its fore-quarters and hind-quarters, its head, ears, tusks, and tail, and its trunk, its rider thinks: ‘This royal bull elephant … in battle uses its fore-feet and hind-feet, its fore-quarters and hind-quarters, its head, ears, tusks, and tail, and its trunk. It has fully dedicated its life. Now there is nothing that royal bull elephant would not do.’

In the same way, when someone is not ashamed to tell a deliberate lie, there is no bad deed they would not do, I say. So you should train like this: ‘I will not tell a lie, even for a joke.’
https://suttacentral.net/mn61/en/sujato
Last edited by Ceisiwr on Mon Jul 06, 2020 2:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“Aṅgulimāla, I have forever stopped"

MN 86
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Magic tricks and lying

Post by Ceisiwr »

Four factors enter into the offense of false speech:

1. an untrue state of affairs.

2. the intention of deceiving another.

3. the effort to express that, either verbally or bodily.

4. the conveying of a false impression to another.

Since intention is required, if one speaks falsely without aiming at deceiving another, as when one speaks what is false believing it to be true, there is no breach of the precept. Actual deception, however, is not needed for the precept to be broken. It is enough if the false impression is communicated to another. Even though he does not believe the false statement, if one expresses what is false to him and he understands what is being said, the transgression of speaking falsehood has been committed. The motivation for false speech can be any of the three unwholesome roots. These yield three principal kinds of falsehood: (1) false speech motivated by greed, intended to increase one's gains or promote one's status or that of those dear to oneself; (2) false speech motivated by hatred, intended to destroy the welfare of others or to bring them harm and suffering; and (3) false speech of a less serious kind, motivated principally by delusion in association with less noxious degrees of greed or hatred, intended neither to bring special benefits to oneself nor to harm others. Some examples would be lying for the sake of a joke, exaggerating an account to make it more interesting, speaking flattery to gratify others, etc.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... el282.html
“Aṅgulimāla, I have forever stopped"

MN 86
chownah
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Re: Magic tricks and lying

Post by chownah »

I think it comes down to the intent of the "magician".....
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dharmacorps
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Re: Magic tricks and lying

Post by dharmacorps »

Aside from what others have correctly said, it is clear from the Suttas the Buddha didn't think much of magicians (street magicians). In several places he spoke of people doing this at the junction of a road, etc as a unseemly thing.
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Re: Magic tricks and lying

Post by binocular »

dharmacorps wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:20 pmAside from what others have correctly said, it is clear from the Suttas the Buddha didn't think much of magicians (street magicians). In several places he spoke of people doing this at the junction of a road, etc as a unseemly thing.
At the junction of a road. How meaningful! At a junction, when people are supposed to decide which path to take and take it, but instead, they stay put and entertain themselves.
Hic Rhodus, hic salta!
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