Many business people may think that it is impossible to keep the precept of not lying. However, consider this. If a business person is truthful in his/her claims and perhaps makes a little less on a honest transaction, the chances are that by creating trust, he/she would have gained a loyal client. In other words, being truthful does not conflict with doing business and can instead bring about long term success. I once read of a very successful businessman in Malaysia, whose success was due to his truthfulness and sincerity. The story goes like this…
After the businessman entered into a contract, the price of the necessary raw materials went up. If he stuck to the contract price, he would have lost money. Since there was no way to change it, the only choice would have been to “cheat” with cheaper, substandard materials. However, the businessman decided to courageously tell his customer the truth about the situation. His truthfulness and sincerity touched the customer, who then agreed to an adjustment of the contract pricing. The businessman is now one of Malaysia’s most successful.
Let us now take a look at the state of affairs in the consumer market today. There are many shoddy and fake goods that have harmed consumers. The Chinese use the term “black heart” (黑心产品) to describe such products. Just to quote an example, the 2008 Sanlu Milk incident in China killed four babies and left thousands ill. Business people who want to maximise profits produce such so-called “black hearted” products. These are harmful and are detrimental to public safety.
There are always ways and means to make money ethically. Therefore, we should always strive to be truthful and honest about our products or services, and the fourth precept sets out the guideline for us.