Besides, every time you tell a lie, you lose all spontaneity of life because you have to remember every lie. Every time you tell the truth, you don't have to remember it. Every time you tell a lie, you have to remember the lie, because you are setting up a context in which you may have to fabricate something in the future. Thus, you lose the spontaneity of life. Where is the quality of a life without any spontaneity? The spontaneity is gone because you have to remember all your lies. Is that positive or negative? Guiding the discussion in that way, you get to the issue of the quality of life psychologically and pragmatically. We can also investigate this scientifically. Keep a record of the lies you tell over the next two months. This scientific investigation is to collect the lies you have told, the ones you had to remember and the effect that it has on you. Then, if you are willing to share that with someone, we can compare our results with each other or even the entire class. However, it does take a lot of trust in a class to have that level of sharing.
On an indivisual level, by not telling the truth, you are losing all your spontaneity.
You are losing the truth of yourself. Now, what happens in the context of the Dao (Way) of social relations? I would ask the students right away. When anyone has told you a lie, could you ever again totally trust what that person says? And everyone agees, "No." Therefore, by not telling the truth, one breaks the fundamental relationship between two people. There can be no meaningful communication between two people without honesty as its basis.
You can never again trust someone who was not honest with you, but you should never tell that person outright that he no longer has your trust. Well, the same applies to you! If you tell lies, you lose forever the fundamental respect and trust of the people you lie to. And if you accumulate that down the road, then before very long, you have no standing. You have no character. No one trusts you and you don't trust anyone else, so where are you in the pragmatic world of today? We can look at honesty from this pragmatic, psychological and even scientific view, which intersects our entire life without getting into any authority at all. There is no reason to bring authority into it at all. There is no reason to bring "you should do this" up at all. It is totally understandable from within this very nature.
Actually, breaking down virtue-teaching into its components is not very desirable. It makes sense within the totality of its construct at deeper and deeper levels, not only on the surface of it. In terms of teaching it, making the point is one thing, and then there has to be some communication about it. So you take this one thing of honesty, which is one of the Five Precepts, just one aspect of virtue, and you have to deal with it in a series of ways. They have to read literature; they have to read some short stories that show and demonstrate the essential conflict of making a tough decision about honesty. They have to read some examples of people who are faced with difficult problems of having to be honest and what the results are. They have to be able to discuss it in terms of literature. That is one method you have to bring in. You have to look at history, at how history operates within a society that has virtue versus a society that doesn't have virtue and what, especially in terms of honesty, the repercussions are.
Forget law and authority. Law and authority can demonstrate virtue in your life, but can't teach virtue. When you use authority you are not teaching virtue, you are teaching authority. You are teaching power.
Virtue is something that needs to be taught as a total methodology.
To be continued