Tuesday, December 23, 2008


There is an article in the Science Times section about lying. A study showed that students lie two times a day, regular workers lie one time a day. People feel guilty until they realize the got away with it. Turns out other primates lie as well. There's a correlation with brain size and lying, the larger, the more likely you are to lie. Not sure what that is about.

Telling the truth is hard, it makes life easier to lie when someone asks me if I've done something that I consider absurd, or I would get into trouble if I told the truth. I see it as another aspect of how I push away pain and cling to pleasure. I do so at the cost of my integrity, my own peril. I am in process of working to evolve towards more truth telling.

On a couple of occasions I was in a meeting with the head person where I worked, and they were exploring strategies of how to lie. In one meeting I asked if we could consider telling the truth. My boss saw that as an aggressively challenging statement, very angry.

I've always thought about not just truth and falsity, but also do I speak the deeper truths, as Bante suggest in his talk on the ten precepts. When I'm angry I'm lose myself and I'm carried away. But do I also describe things in their depths. Do I have the verbal acuity and insight to describe what is really going on?

The ten ethical precepts have 4 on speech.

I have a friend who really seems to examine these precepts. I've looked in on these a few times on retreat, and there was a time where I looked at one of the ten precepts throughout my day. There are some talks on the Eddinborough Center page (temporarily out of order), where Smritiratna talks about his efforts to speak truthfully. He warns people before he says, "do you really want to know, I'm going to tell the truth." Seems he applies it to questions about how someone looks, which they are often looking not so much for an exact aesthetic approval, but maybe reassurance that they don't look horrible. Sometimes "telling the truth" can be cruel. I think harmony must be preserved, and the other person's mind must be taken into account, the expression of the truth must also be kind and not meant to hurt. Now sometimes the truth does hurt and it's appropriate to give a tough love. But I would say that is more rare than the times when you need to craft your message to be kind.

I think non-violent communication is a model of communication.
First you make an objective observation, then states your feelings, then state a need, then make a request. For example, "You guys are not using your inside voice. I feel overwhelmed by the volume. I need to have a home that is not very stressful, I feel like home is an oasis from the stress of outside life. Please keep your volume to an appropriate inside level." Perhaps it's elaborate and too complex at times. I really feel like speaking about how you feel, instead of combining what's going on and how you feel, instead of the accusation, "your so noisy!" you're less judgemental and it helps the other person figure out how to behave. Of course it takes more time than some heavy handed stuff, perhaps with parenting. Anyway, that's my imperfect example of NVC.

NVC is the opposite of lying. I think you avoid pratfalls and look to what would be virtuous.

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