From the second talk of Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s ongoing Tricycle Retreat:
In applying the principal of truth in life, you do have to make two distinctions. The first is in the “truth of statements.” If there is something that you say, even if it is true but you know it is going to cause harm, you don’t say it. The Buddha once said there are three tests for any statement we might make. The first is that it be true. The second one, if it is true, it should also be beneficial. If it is beneficial, then the third is that it be timely. In other words, look at the situation. Is it the right time to be saying this? Not everything that’s true should be said.
There was once a politician who went to see the Buddha and he said “I see there is no harm in telling the truth, whatever you know, whatever you see.” The Buddha said to him that if telling the truth gives rise to create aversion and delusion within yourself, you should avoid talking about that topic. Now that doesn’t mean you should lie about it, but simply you learn how to avoid the topic.
Join the Tricycle Community as a Supporting or Sustaining Member and download Skill in Questions by Thanissaro Bhikkhu for free. If you’re already a member, you can get the book here. When you download the book, you will have the opportunity to make a voluntary $5 contribution to the Tricycle Teachers Fund. Donations in January will go entirely to support the Metta Forest Monastery, where Thanissaro Bhikkhu is abbot.
Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s Tricycle Retreat on The Ten Perfections runs throughout the month of January at Tricycle.com. To watch the complete talk, “The Ten Perfections Week 1: Discernment,” which is free and open to all, click here. To watch a preview of his week 2 talk, click here.