52 QUESTION: May I bring up the subject of lying. What is the spiritual point of view about “white lies” – lies in order to protect a higher cause or prevent hurts?
ANSWER: My answer cannot and must not be given on an outer level. Many teachers and teachings remain on the outer level, on the level of conduct. On this level the answer could never be conclusive. In fact, it could be dangerous. On the outer level, rules are made that become rigid and dead. And you cannot make one rule. There are so many possibilities, and each possibility is different. So my answer may, at first, seem unclear and, perhaps, even a little ambiguous. It will not be as satisfactory as if I could pronounce one rule and conduct for all alternatives. The only true answer is on the inner level, and it is this:
You will always know what to do and what the right course is – whether it concerns this subject or any other – if you have learned honesty with yourself to the maximum degree you are capable of. That, in itself, is a long process. Only in yourself do you find the truth that will then govern your proper outer conduct. If you are honest with yourself, you will be able to judge whether your dilemma is based entirely on selfless motives – another person’s hurt, a higher cause or whatever – or whether these valid motives may also hide a selfish one.
You will know how to evaluate it. The mere discovery and knowledge of the possible hidden selfish motive will show you what course to take. About this, no generalization can be made. The discovery of the selfish motive will show you that the outer selfless ones are no longer valid. In other instances, you will consider the outer selfless motives in spite of the fact that you have discovered selfish motives; you will see that although there is an advantage for yourself in considering others, this is still to the good all around.
Only you will not deceive yourself any longer. Even the good course would be harmful to you if you were unaware of your own truth. The right conduct we are all searching for does not lie in the action itself, it lies in the self-awareness and honesty. That is the key to all conflicts, be it lying or anything else.