What Does Being a Buddhist Mean to You?

RE: When do you lie?

It’s okay to lie if it’s to save my life or someone I care for.

Carol Ann Stockton
Vocalist and environmental activist
Poulsbo, Washington

I’m human, I have mind and ego. And of course I have lied and do. And because I do, I practice. So we practice “no mind” to minimize harm and we follow the precepts as a reminder of our direction, of how to keep our way.

Nancy Brown
Guiding Teacher at New Haven Zen Center
New Haven, Connecticut

When do I lie? As soon as I start answering this question.

David Nichtern
New York, New York

I try to think of the scriptures, in which the Buddha tells the story of hunters chasing a deer ask two by-standers where the deer went. One bystander says the deer went one way, the other says he went another way. They lie, but the intention is not to harm.

Barbara Brodsky
Guiding Teacher of Deep Spring Center for Meditation and Spiritual Inquiry
Ann Arbor, Michigan

I always tell my aged parents that I’m going to visit “friends” in New York State when I’m actually going to sit with Toni Packer for a week.

Michael Atkinson
Professor of English and Comparative Literature at University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, Ohio

I try to stay away from it, because usually a lie will come back. But—in keeping a confidence. A lot of people trust me, for whatever reason. If somebody confides in me, and if other people ask me about it - which they now know not to do—whether it’s a large lie or a small lie, I would try to avoid hurting people.

Ben Burton
Bass player, Infraction
Chicago, Illinois

When I feel most threatened. Oh God, I lie a lot. I started practice because I realized I was living a lie to myself. I wanted to find out what wasn’t a lie.

Trudi Jinpu Hirsch, MRO (Mountains and Rivers Order)
Beth Isreal Chaplain
New York, New York

The scary thing is I don’t even know when I’m lying. We all are constantly inventing our own realities and to do that we lie to ourselves and everybody else without realizing it.

Bill Tresch
Artist and woodworker
New York City

When I use words. They are notoriously slippery, and often say what they want, not what I want them to. My commitment as a writer is to truth, but it is a vow, like staying awake, or saving all beings. We work with vows. We don’t keep them.

David Guy
Durham, North Carolina

I seem to lie to myself all day long. I say things like, “He made me angry,” or “I’ll be happy when I get that new computer.” Before long my home has become a den of lies and I believe them all.

Josh Krieger
Software Engineer
Cambridge, Massachusetts

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