This week's main feature article is on the Fourth Buddhist Precept -- do not lie, or refrain from falsehood. On the surface, this is one of the more uninteresting Buddhist Precepts. Number One on the "interesting" countdown must be Number Three, on sexuality. Precepts one and five, on killing and intoxicants, probably come after that.
The Second Precept tells us not to steal, and the Fourth tells us not to lie. Some of us might be inclined to check those off pretty quickly. They sound like what we learned in Sunday School, after all. But as in most things, the Precepts go much, much deeper.
Speaking truth comes from a practice of truthfulness, or deep honesty. One of the things I first appreciated about Zen practice is that it requires self-honesty. Whatever shtick has gotten you through life is revealed to be a hindrance instead of a crutch, and the myriad little lies and rationalizations we tell ourselves about ourselves fall away. (And they're still falling away.)
Another aspect of deep honesty is remaining open to truth. So often we "make up our minds" about the way things are, and then we are closed. Certitude is a dead end.
Always leave room for new understanding, even if you like your current understanding. Especially if you like your current understanding. Be particularly mistrustful of "facts" that fit too neatly into your worldview. Stay open to the realization that your worldview is an illusion, even if it doesn't seem to be an illusion.
Ultimately, speaking truth can only be built on a practice of truth. Deep honesty does not try to protect our ego, serve our self-interests or confirm our biases. And if we're not being sincerely honest, how can we be truthful?