Sacca pāramī : truthfulness, honesty
Sacca parami or truthfulness is not about cosmic or absolute truth. It is about human beings (ourselves) telling the truth as we know it rather than lying or dissembling.
Here’s the truth: The entire post below is excerpted from the first two sections of Sam Harris’ essay “Lying”. I couldn’t find a way to be more clear or direct.
“Among the many paradoxes of human life, this is perhaps the most peculiar and consequential: We often behave in ways that are guaranteed to make us unhappy. Many of us spend our lives marching with open eyes toward remorse, regret, guilt, and disappointment. And nowhere do our injuries seem more casually self-inflicted, or the suffering we create more disproportionate to the needs of the moment, than in the lies we tell to other human beings. Lying is the royal road to chaos…I came away [from a college seminar called "The Ethical Analyst"] convinced that lying, even about the smallest matters, needlessly damages personal relationships and public trust.”
Definition: “To lie is to intentionally mislead others when they expect honest communication. This leaves stage magicians, poker players, and other harmless dissemblers off the hook, while illuminating a psychological and social landscape whose general shape is very easy to recognize. People lie so that others will form beliefs that are not true. The more consequential the beliefs — that is, the more a person’s well-being depends upon a correct understanding of the world — the more consequential the lie.”
Another guideline: “The intent to communicate honestly is the measure of truthfulness.” [This recognizes that we can be truthful but mistaken.]
“People tell lies for many reasons. They lie to avoid embarrassment, to exaggerate their accomplishments, and to disguise wrongdoing. They make promises they do not intend to keep. They conceal defects in their products or services. They mislead competitors to gain advantage. Many of us lie to our friends and family members to spare their feelings.
“Whatever our purpose in telling them, lies can be gross or subtle. Some entail elaborate ruses or forged documents. Others consist merely of euphemisms or tactical silences. But it is in believing one thing while intending to communicate another that every lie is born.”