This is first of the multi-part series on the topic of the Art of Lying.
“Lying is universal–we _all_ do it. Therefore, the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others’ advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as being ashamed of our high calling. Then shall we be rid of the rank and pestilent truth that is rotting the land; then shall we be great and good and beautiful, and worthy dwellers in a world where even benign Nature habitually lies, except when she promises execrable weather.”
This is an excerpt from my essay on lying: ‘On the Decay of the Art of Lying’ …I know it is an excellent piece of work and that is why I do not mind lying, that I wrote the essay. I am sure Sir Mark Twain would never mind my indulgence…for it is a noble cause and I intend no profit from it…but for winning some hearts and accolades.
Lying is an amazing art and an enigma that thrives amongst us and gives us hope, dreams, motivation and enthusiasm to take us through yet another day. We love to hate lies and yet lie when we have to. I come across so many of my friends and acquaintances who I know lie…not that I am absolving myself from lying…they lie and I listen. I listen with rapt attention and catch every word of their obvious lie…not to laugh at it…but to give that person or friend the satisfaction of living that dream, desire through me.
When someone noble lies to me, I don’t scoff off that person nor am I judgmental about the character of that person. You are lying to yourself if you claim you do not lie or you detest liars. You love your parents or your best friend or spouse or yourself and you can’t possibly detest everyone.Everyone whom you know has lied atleast once.
Lying was accepted even by the gods. I remember asking my elders when I had just heard them lying to someone, ‘ Isn’t lying a sin?’ and they replied; Yes dear, lying is a sin, but then Lord Krishna has said if by lying you are not hurting or causing any harm to anyone then it is acceptable and not a sin’.
There you go, since Lord Krishna said so it is perfectly fine and I love these exceptions that help mankind survive in the hope of going to heaven. This is probably the closest to what they claim he said: “Krishna taught that even if one tells a lie, if it serves the welfare of the entire Universe such a lie can be called Dharma.”
Consider this, imagine your closest friend just met with an accident and lying on the hospital bed moving in and out of consciousness. The doctor has given you the warning on ‘life hanging by a thread’ and the importance of shielding the person from any shock. Suddenly your friend opens her eyes and asks, “Where is my daughter?”, and you look at her, into her eyes, see the panic in her eyes and calmly tell her that her four year old (who died in the accident) is perfectly fine and at home.
She relaxes and falls bank into the peaceful calm that she was in earlier. So now though you lied, you somehow feel you did the right thing. Many of those who just read this will agree too about the nobility of your action. Here the truth was in vain and cruel.
The time when you lied about the report card was not just a lie to protect your skin but also not to let your parents down, the time you lied about the diwali bonus was to see the laughter on your child’s face with the new bike, the time you lied to your friends about the new job was not to deceive them but to feel like the king for that moment of your, otherwise depressing life.
I feel the art of lying is not about deception, but speaks more of the undying human spirit. The need for humans to hope, desire and dream, is materialized in the form of a simple lie. So if it can’t hurt anyone…will you…Lie with me?
(In the next part, I will try to understand the different facets of a lie and the person behind that lie..your comments and suggestions are most welcome).