Is our society built on lies? Why do people lie? Read on to learn how we all are leading a life of lies.


If you are truthful in a relationship, nothing hurts more than hearing a lie from your partner; sometimes knowing the truth may hurt even more, yet still, in the longer run, a lie causes more damage than truth. You may want to read- The secret of healthy relationships.

Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”Lying is not as simple as telling the truth versus falsifying it. It is deeper than that. It is not always about distortion or nondisclosure of facts, it may well be about creating a whole new set of truths that only the liar knows of. Today, I reflect on an interesting topic: why do people lie?

Story of a lie

It appears some lie for no reason at all, while many lie with great reasoning, some lie for a cause, and many build a cause to lie. It is not always about the flip side of truth. Sometimes, a lie stands on its own two feet. Upon deep examination, you will find that lying is a complex act, a complicated aspect of one’s personality, it is more than a habit, almost a natural human trait.

Here are the three primary causes of telling lies, they are not mutually exclusive:

1. To hide information

Anything or any relationship that can be labeled comes with a set of expectations. Whether you are a teacher, student, husband, wife, CEO, manager, son, daughter, friend and so forth, anyone at all, living in the society, you are expected to behave in a certain manner. When you traverse the boundaries, you are suddenly out there in the open, unprotected and vulnerable. You have to protect yourself now, you have to safeguard the expectations and save your relationship.

If you hide the information, if no one gets to know you crossed the line, if you are perceived to be within the bounds, treading only the thoroughfare, you continue to be a functional artefact of the social apparatus. It leads to a temporary sense of peace, a sense of match, of fitting in the society.

You just bought yourself time, you did not have to put up with the arguments that might have taken place had you shared the truth. You did not have to hurt the sentiments or trust of the other person by covering up your truth. This is the foremost cause of lying.

People lie because they want to avoid confrontation and conflict.

Lying becomes the easier route.

2. A matter of habit

Often pursuing the first one, that is, hiding information, one gets into the habit of lying. When you repeatedly do the same thing over and over again, it becomes your habit. Perfection, carelessness, lack of detail or attention to detail etcetera are all habits as are telling the truth and lying.

The habit of lying is formed, like many other habits, right from the childhood. Why? It must trace back to certain incidents during their early years or the atmosphere at home where speaking truth mostly ended up in an unpleasant conflict and undue scolding.

When parents start to behave like kids too, it gives their children a strong reason to lie. By lying, they feel safe. However, this becomes their habit, their coping mechanism, their strategy to put up with all undesirable situations later on in their own lives. Unfortunate. It is incredibly hard to break the habit of lying.

Like many other habits of smoking, drinking, punctuality and so on, children also pick up lying from their parents, other elders and peers. If you lie frequently, do not be harsh on your children expecting them to tell the truth. They will not follow what you tell them to do, they will follow what you do yourself. In other words, they do not learn from your instructions but actions. If this is how they see you living, it is but natural that they will follow suit.

When lying becomes a habit, it leads to one of the two outcomes, and both are not mutually exclusive: the liar becomes fidgety with a wavering mind, or, they become aggressive with a depressed mind. Constant lying puts a tremendous burden on them to remember, to protect information, to bear the load of false information, to live the false identity.

Over time, impatience, aggression, withdrawal, artificiality, depression, self doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and the rest find a permanent home in the mind of a liar.

3. To gain attention

This third reason comes with a powerful revelation. It can help one gain attention, respect, power. When someone lies to you about an incident where he was the only witness, he now has access to information that no one else does. He has just created a new truth. Exclusive information naturally leads to greater power and more attention.

It was not just greed that triggered the greatest corporate scandals in the world, it was also about an inherent, an innate, an obtuse sense of gaining more power and control.

I remember reading stories of a certain hunter during my childhood. This hunter would come to the village and make up stories on how he gallantly killed a lion with his fists alone, or courageously wasted a bear with just a small knife and so forth. All the villagers would gather around him to listen to his fascinating, if not fantastical, accounts of valor and bravery. He got attention and respect. If this formula works for the liar, he continues to lie till eternity.

There are some who live a life of lies, there are many who justify their lies, it is even possible for some to protect their lies, however, it comes at the cost of their inner peace. They may not lose relationships or respect, they will, sooner or later, be robbed of their inner peace, however.

So, if you want your partner, your child, or your friend to tell you the truth, if that is important to you, you had better encourage an atmosphere conducive to truth. If you are going to pounce upon hearing a confession, that may well be the last time you will ever hear a truthful version.

It is for this reason, forgiveness is considered a divine virtue. Because by forgiving not only are you strengthening yourself and your relationship but also making a difference to the life of the other person and subsequent generations.

Next time you feel like reacting to someone’s lie, just take a moment and look within you. A realization may dawn and you may find it easy to forgive the other person.

On the other hand, if you are the one telling lies, just remember the price is paid in peace and bliss. Truth is bold by nature, and lie, arrogant. The former instills courage, the latter, fear. Truth stems from inner strength, and lie, from the inability to gain such strength.

Discover your own truth; it will set you free.

Peace.
Swami

 

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Are you curious to understand the anatomy of lies a bit more deeply? Below are some spiritual perspectives on the different kinds of lies we tell every day.
Why does my partner lie/cheat compulsively?

Cheating is an abuse of trust, it means you have been taken for granted, for a ride. There is never a reason for cheating, only an excuse. So, here are the top three:

1. Opportunity overrides obligation
2. Lust defeats love
3. Habits die hard

Read more here.


Why do people lie to me and for no reason?

It appears some lie for no reason at all, while many lie with great reasoning, some lie for a cause, and many build a cause to lie. It is not always about the flip side of truth. Sometimes, a lie stands on its own two feet. Upon deep examination, you will find that lying is a complex act, a complicated aspect of one’s personality, it is more than a habit, almost a natural human trait.

Here are the three primary causes of telling lies, they are not mutually exclusive:
1. To hide information
2. A matter of habit
3. To gain attention
Read more on each of these causes here.


Why do people lie? How can one rise above lying and follow the path of truth?

Sympathy is more powerful than truth. Merely knowing and stating the truth is not enough. One must evaluate the five positions of truth and its appropriate time (sixth consideration) before saying it. Once, Prince Abhaya asked Buddha if he ever spoke harsh and disagreeable words. At first, Buddha said there was no categorical yes-or-no answer and thereafter, the Venerable One spoke…

Read more here.


Why do people lie in a marriage/in an intimate relationship? What is the key to everlasting relationships?

Most people enter into a marriage with the intention of making it work, with the hope of deriving joy together, with the goal of being together. The intentions are as noble as the partners themselves. However, why do marriage that looked solid and iconic as the Taj Mahal once come crumbling down like a sandcastle?

Today I bring to you the key to everlasting relationships. My core philosophy that can help you understand relationships better and live the one of your dreams. A good marriage has four pillars, columns of strength and togetherness. The building of any close relationship stands on these four pillars.

So, here they are:
1. The pillar of financial security
2. The pillar of physical security
3. The pillar of emotional security
4. The pillar of moral security

Read more on each of the five positions of truth here.


Why do people lie when I am truthful, and how do I deal with such lies and people?

When it comes to deciding what you ought to do next, wait until you are healed.

Decisions taken in a vulnerable state of mind will haunt you later. Nearly always. And, this leads me to the theme of this post: how do you overcome vulnerability? Or more appropriately, how do you ensure that your experience and the hurt from your past is not shrouding the truth you must see?

Healing is your answer. If you want to heal yourself do it in two parts. First, seek forgiveness for your actions that might have hurt others. Have the courage to say, “I’m sorry because…” and then mean it. A huge weight will come off your shoulders. And second is forgive those who have wronged you.

On how to forgive those who have wronged you – go here.


Why do people lie? What is the price one pays for lying?

There is a story in Mahabharata. The legend goes that Yudhisthria’s chariot used to be a few inches up from the ground because he always spoke the truth. In the enemy camp there was a great warrior and their guru called Dronacharya. Dronacharya’s son’s name was Ashwatthama who was technically an immortal because of a boon he had. Dronacharya was invincible because he loved his son and fought very bravely. Now Krishna knew the only way to get rid of Dronacharya was to somehow annihilate the conviction he had for his son. If he could be convinced that his son was dead then Dronacharya would not fight.

Coincidentally, there was also an elephant in the war named Ashwatthama. The Pandavas killed the elephant and in great jubilation, went to Dronacharya and said that Ashwatthama is dead. Guru Drona is shaken and thinks that the Pandavas might be playing games. He says he will only believe it if it comes from Yudhisthria’s mouth because Yudhisthria never lies. If he says that Ashwatthama is dead, then I will believe it. He summons Yudhisthria and asks if it is true that Ashwatthama is dead. Yudhisthria says yes Ashwatthama, the elephant is dead.

Listen to this discourse by Om Swami to find out more about the price of a lie.