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Man Who Did His Dharma By Telling A Lie – When It Is Okay To Lie

There was an assembly of saints who used to ask questions, and one man used to play the wise guy and answer the questions. When he was asked under which circumstances it is okay to tell a lie, he told the following story.

There was a man who followed dharma by following honesty and truthfulness. All his life he lived in a hut near the village practicing dharma. He spend his time meditating, reading or helping others. He never spoke a lie and never did anything wrong.

One day he saw a cow running. She passed his hut and disappeared into the jungle. After a few minutes some people came with swords in their hands. They were searching for the cow and wanted to slaughter it.

They knew the honest man never spoke a lie and asked him if he had seen a cow passing by. He said he had, but when they asked him which direction it had gone, he pointed in two opposite directions.

The butchers could not understand him and they left.

A little later one of them came back and asked why he had not clearly pointed out the way the cow had gone.

He said, “I wanted to tell the truth, but I also wanted to save the cow. If I had pointed clearly the way she had gone, you would have killed her. One hand was pointing to the way she went and the other hand was just balancing and that confused you. With my gestures and my talking I wasted half an hour and I gave the cow time to escape, but I did not tell a lie.”

The man asked, “I would really like to know what your dharma was this time.”

The honest man said, “It was really my dharma to tell a lie. I should have told you a lie by pointing in the wrong direction, but I could not do that. So I pointed in the right direction, but I confused you with my other hand. So I did not point it out clearly, but in a way I did not tell a lie.”

Then the man asked, “What do you think you did?” The honest man said, “I know I created bad karma because either I should not have told you anything or I should have told you the truth. Observing silence would have been the best, but you all came with swords and you were in a mood to kill, so I was afraid to lose my life if I kept silent. By not telling you exactly which direction the cow went I wanted to save her life as well as mine. That way I think I did my dharma.