Is it Okay to Tell a White Lie?

Question

Is it ok to lie to my landlady from whom I rent a room in order to protect her feelings? She is a kind person, but I am leaving because her daughter is impossible to live with. I don’t want to cause problems between them, but I also don’t want to lie. Could I be interfering with their karma if I lie?

—Liz, United States

Answer

Dear Vera,

No, it is never a good thing, spiritually speaking, to lie to others or even to yourself. It is not so much that it would interfere with their karma if you lied to them. It’s more that it would create negative karma for you! On the other hand, the great Masters of Yoga say that the truth should always be beneficial. If you speak a factual statement to a person, which will, in any way, hurt the person hearing it, then better to say nothing at all.

However, usually you can find a way to tell the truth another, kinder way, which will not be hurtful to anyone.

For example it would be much better to say something like this to your land-lady (or perhaps even write it to her instead, in a friendly note on a pretty card), “I have found another place to live, which is much better suited to me and my needs at this time. I appreciate your friendship and kindness to me while I was living here, and hope we can stay in touch in the future.”