Reestablishing Sila

I have taken the 5 precepts a few years ago. I have recently realized I was telling lies for years to myself and others by continuously exaggerating things (as part of my job) and being willfully blind towards things (as a coping mechanism mostly). I was putting in effort into telling the truth and describing things as accurately as possible, so the realization that I was still continuously breaking the precepts for all this time was kind of a shock. Especially how I was repressing important things in my mind (really thinking I was doing good to others by doing so) instead of facing them.

What methods are there for a lay person to deal with these offenses, retake the precepts and reestablish Sila?

Any advice on how to work properly in jobs where getting ahead means being able to repeat bullshit the loudest?

Thank you


The following sutta might help

There are lies that I have told, to a greater or lesser extent. That was not right. That was not good. But if I become remorseful for that reason, that evil deed of mine will not be undone.’ So, reflecting thus, he abandons right then the telling of lies, and in the future refrains from telling lies. This is how there comes to be the abandoning of that evil deed. This is how there comes to be the transcending of that evil deed.


If your job requires you to tell lies, then I’d find another job. It’s not worth the heartache or breaking the precepts. If there’s a way for you to be successful and honest in your job, then do that.

Keep in mind that being honest doesn’t necessarily mean saying everything about anything, but knowing also what’s beneficial and timely. Sometimes it’s not the right time to say something, so withholding information in that sense is not lying. But flat-out falsehoods should be avoided.


Right views lead to right speech and actions. These lead to a change from wrong livelihood to Right livelihood. This will lead to a state of mind more able to give rise to mindfulness and jhanas.


Realising your behaviour for what it is is very important here, and a reason to be glad about. So you’ve made that, that’s great!

Not realising that what you said was actually a lie also is not necessarily the same as delibertely telling a lie. Normally, the fact of breking the precept of not lying includes to tell a deliberate lie.

Even if what you did in the past must not have been an outright breaking of the precept in this sense, it will certainly give you a greater feeling of satisfaction and joy to realise that it had not been as pure as you made yourself believe, and now, after becoming aware, being able to do better.

If you feel it would be good to re-take the precepts you can recite them to yourself if you don’t find an appropriate opportunity to do it with someone else.


A small verse from the Dhammapada that helps me deal with the past:

Who once was heedless,
but later is not,
brightens the world
like the moon set free from a cloud.

His evil-done deed
is replaced with skillfulness:
he brightens the world
like the moon set free from a cloud.