TOS #2

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TOS #2

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Thu Jul 05, 2012 3:47 pm

Hi all,

I'm still quite glad to have found this forum, but there are some things that bother me. What I loved most about eSangha was that it was a 100% brainwash free environment where all sorts of teachers and teachings could be discussed freely, honestly, openly and rationally. Here at DW however I have the impression that most critival discussions are interrupted by ppl using certain brainwash arguments like

  • critizising a teacher and/or his teachings is negative speech
  • the person uttering the criticism must have negative intentions
  • ...and/or does not have the pure view
  • the criticism is hurting the feelings of ppl who believe in that teacher and therefore the line of argumentation must not be continued
  • etc. etc. etc....

I don't accuse anybody of using these fallacies out of negative intentions, most of the times it is probably because ppl really believe what they're saying. But still, this behaviour is disruptive.

I don't know how you guys feel about this, but I currently find it annoying to deal with this all the time, which is also the main reason why I did not engage in the discussion about Ole Nydahl's teachings anymore during the last couple of weeks. Sooner or later I will take that topic up again, but currently I don't have the energy because there's a lot of things I have to deal with in my real life right now and I can't afford to waste time.

The same thing seems to happen in all critical discussions not only about ON, but also, e.g., about Michael Roach.

Shouldn't the TOS contain some kind of anti-brainwash formula that explicitly states that the above listed topoi are considered a form of disruptive behaviour? Maybe like this:

2. Do not be disruptive

Dharma Wheel is an environment for the discussion of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. All are welcome but are required to abide by the TOS. Special forums have been created for special areas of interest so please respect these boundaries. Dharma Wheel administrators and moderators reserve the right to edit inappropriate content, and to remove or transfer any posts or threads that are not relevant to the sub-forum in which they are posted. Any subject matter that may be off-topic or is intended only to cause disruption or harm to others may be removed without notice. This includes the badmouthing of other Buddhist discussion forums, trolling, proselytizing and brainwashy pseudo-arguments (or whatever expression you prefer for this).


best wishes,

R'n'R
"Forget about being clever, and simply remain." Guru Rinpoche, Treasures from Juniper Ridge
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Re: TOS #2

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Fri Jul 06, 2012 4:13 pm

nobody has any opinion on this whatsowever? I thought you would stone me...?
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Re: TOS #2

Postby Blue Garuda » Sat Jul 07, 2012 9:20 am

Already covered.

ToS would be a mile long if every example which upsets someone were to be included.

One may as easily argue that some groups should be added to ToS no. 4 , referring to controversial practices and groups and thereby not permitted as topics for discussion at all.
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Re: TOS #2

Postby catmoon » Sun Jul 08, 2012 6:51 am

Teacher misconduct discussions are a grey area. Where there is clear evidence of misconduct or an admission of misconduct, the discussions are allowed to go forward for a time. It seems the talks inevitably reach a point where they start repeating themselves over and over, and the benefit at that point is hard to see, so the discussion is usually closed at that point.

Simply unloading on a teacher because you disagree with his teachings is usually not allowed, although you are free to debate the teachings themselves.

If a teacher is widely revered and admired mudslinging will be stopped in its tracks, unless unusually strong proof accompanies the argument. Maybe we should have a "Sacred Cow" list so people know who's who and who isn't... :)
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Re: TOS #2

Postby waimengwan » Thu Jul 12, 2012 2:39 am

Instead of talking about the conduct of this teacher or that teacher why don't we focus on our our practice.

The "Talking and Discussing about Teachers' sadhana will not get us closer to enlightenment one bit. Stop policing others, start policing our own mindstreams.

We have to let others know about false teachers, well if we keep doing that what time do we have for our own practice as this type of activity can consume lifetimes of energy.
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Re: TOS #2

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Jul 14, 2012 10:18 am

It is a tough issue. We need to balance. Where things come to light in the media for example, about harmful behaviours, I feel it is almost a duty to say something, so that new Buddhists do not get drawn into high-demand or abusive groups. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is very clear on this in the quote that has been posted and re-posted regarding "on teachers who break the precepts." ( I will not post it again, it is widely available everywhere). If things have hit the major media or if there are long lists of people who made the claims, chances are something untoward happened with the said teacher/group.
If however, it is a case of one individual saying something, or simply allegations without any type of evidence, or there are large shadows of doubt, we need to be very careful. I know of a recent case of a geshe, for example, who was falsely accused of misconduct with a female student. Later it came to light this person was unstable and she retracted the accusation publicly. I know of a similar story involving a bhikkhu and two women in Thailand, later he was cleared completely. So we should keep in mind false accusations do happen.
If the issue though is a particular teacher's presentation of dharma, or a sectarian argument, then debate is perhaps useful but harsh criticism would be unwarranted and a source of further division in the community (as if we don't have enough!).
I do also agree that once the misconduct has been discussed and sources of information provided, there has to be a reflection on the thread itself. Is the thread moving in a positive direction , giving people alternatives or discussing the development of the dharma in the West and its pitfalls? Is it providing support to people who have been hurt by the group in question? Or is it simply a repeat of the same claims and judgements, just fanning the flames of aversion? If the latter is the case, the thread could be closed but kept available for those who wish to read it.
I guess being a monk I am a little more worried about this than most. For example, when people say robes are not important, or the monastic life is dated/no longer relevant, or that the robes are just a costume to be worn for teachings even by those who don't hold the vows. Well, this bothers me. We live in an age where even the once most revered symbols of Buddhism are in danger of becoming simply unusual fashion choices. People who aren't monks wear robes and those who are monks sometimes don't. The whole situation becomes very confusing.
Great lamas of different traditions, Gampopa, the Karmapas, Patrul Rinpoche, Lama Tzongkhapa, all talked about how important the conduct of the teacher is. In several Lam Rim texts it talks about how monks in layclothes was a sign of degeneration of the dharma in Tibet.
But maybe also being a monk I am too conservative... And if the tide is flowing away from traditional forms, not much I can do. But when people are taken advantage of financially, emotionally, sexually. Something needs to be said.
We also live in an age where Buddhism is used as a marketing tool. Spiritual materialism is rife. Having a set of norms and standards actually does serve a purpose sometimes. It keeps a tradition alive and ensures those who are to carry it forward know their responsibilities.
And in fact, if we as Buddhists never say anything about bad behaviour in our tradition, and only remain silent the reputation of the dharma in general will continue to wane. With every person that is hurt by someone claiming to be a Buddhist teacher, there are maybe 10 people who based on that might decide that Buddhism just isn't worth it. And that is not something to be taken lightly.
Look where silence got the Catholic church, for example.
ISKCON, the Hare Krishna organization, has started to thrive again only after establishing strict guidelines to gurus under its umbrella and establishing institutional entities for its implementation (Child Protection Office, Devotee Services Office). This is a story I have followed carefully because to me it is clear that many of the problems the Hare KRishna organization encountered in the 80s/90s are problems that many Buddhist organizations face today.
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Re: TOS #2

Postby waimengwan » Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:31 pm

I would put it like this, if one does not have the karma to be harmed by false teachers and teachings, would one even such a thing. Despite all information out there people still fall for falsehood.

I think it is alright to share if you have the right view about things, i dont think one is going to get it 100% right but I would say do not spend all our times becoming a spiritual police and neglect out practice.
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Re: TOS #2

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:46 am

Hi all,

sorry for not answering for such a long time, but I really had a lot of things on my hands during the last two weeks. I occasionally looked into this thread but I was always too tired to reply.

Now so many things have been written here in the meantime that I cannot address everything in detail, sorry again. I have no intention to ignore any of you, but currently my time and energy ressources are limited. So I guess I'll just start with the first responses and see how far I get.

Blue Garuda wrote:Already covered.

ToS would be a mile long if every example which upsets someone were to be included.



I'd like to think so, too, but if this rule is already implicit in TOS #2, I'm afraid to say so but I'm not really under the impression that the moderating team applies the rule in this sense ... :shrug: Obviously compared to most ppl on this forum I'm some kind of ultraconservative hardliner here, crying for law and order - what a funny new experience :smile:

Blue Garuda wrote:One may as easily argue that some groups should be added to ToS no. 4 , referring to controversial practices and groups and thereby not permitted as topics for discussion at all.


I'm afraid, but I'm not sure if I can go with you on this one. I'd rather like to say the more controversial a group or practice is, the more neccessary is a discussion, unless of course the topic is already beaten to death and ppl are just repeating the same stuff again and again. (But maybe this is what you meant?) And, of course, unless the case is as clear as in the case mentioned by TOS #4. The Dalai Lama has made a crystal clear announcement and there is no further discussion needed. Case closed. I would, however, agree with a rule that certain cultish groups must not be proselytized here.


catmoon wrote:Teacher misconduct discussions are a grey area. Where there is clear evidence of misconduct or an admission of misconduct, the discussions are allowed to go forward for a time.


Agreed. I rather had discussions about the truth of teachings in my mind, as well as dubious claims to be enlightened, or to be a terton or tulku, or some late master's one and only true dharma heir and so on.

As to some teachers' bedroom stories and other allegations of personal misconduct, not only can it be difficult to establish if the accusations are true or not. (There is e.g. a current discussion about Ole Nydahl on the Rick Ross forum where I really have my doubts if the person who is charging Ole Nydahl and Thaye Dorje with abuse has actually performed a proper reality check.)

But even if in some cases it is established or at least likely that the accusations are true, IMO it also makes a big difference if the teacher's (alleged or actual) misconduct is (1.) still ongoing and (2.) harmful to other people and therefore (3.) there is a necessity of warning others.

If (1.) is not the case and the teacher has already changed his behaviour then there is no necessity of warning anymore, it's just water under the bridge. Unless maybe somebody would sociologically analyse the affair and point out a number of warning signals which make it easier to detect abusive structures and behaviour in the future, like Christopher Hamacher recently did in his excellent paper "Zen Has No Morals!" (see the article on Buddhist Channel and Hamacher's full paper as PDF.) In such cases even an ex-post analysis may be useful.

And if (2.) is not the case and the misconduct is not harmful to anybody, then it is also nobody's concern. For instance I know a case of a fully ordained monk who has a girlfriend - and I totally don't care. Personally on the one hand I don't think what he does is good, but on the other hand it's easy to see that he is under so many different societal restraints which make it impossible for him to give back his vows, that I would never judge his behaviour.
And most of all, since he is a simple monk (he is not teaching or claiming to be enlightened and so on, so he is not deceiving anybody), the relationship is not abusive, he is not harming anyone, therefore there is no reason to warn anybody. If the poor guy keeps his vows or not is entirely his own business. Making this public by posting his name and maybe a foto of him and his girlfriend on the internet would absolutely be a form of negative speech.

There always needs to be a certain weighting of the rights of privacy of the persons involved on the one hand, and the public interest to be warned of dangers on the other.




catmoon wrote:Simply unloading on a teacher because you disagree with his teachings is usually not allowed, although you are free to debate the teachings themselves.


Agreed again. I'd even go so far to say that simply unloading on anybody should not be allowed. :smile:

catmoon wrote:If a teacher is widely revered and admired mudslinging will be stopped in its tracks, unless unusually strong proof accompanies the argument. Maybe we should have a "Sacred Cow" list so people know who's who and who isn't... :)


lol, not sure how serious you are with the "sacred cow" list :smile: Anyway I assume you're still talking about allegations of misconduct. As far as the teachings are considered, again, I'm a hardliner. IMO it should be allowed to question everything. (With sense, of course, not trollish just for the sake of having some fun by getting everybody excited.) Why should a vegetarian not be allowed to question what, for instance, the Dalai Lama says about eating meat? Or why meat and alcohol are offered in Tsok pujas? After all, Buddha Shakyamuni has again and again emphasised that nothing he teaches should be accepted without critical examination. So I guess teachingwise not even Buddha Shakyamuni should be a "sacred cow" :smile:

And that brings me back to my initial question: isn't it obvious that there are areas where questioning and critically examining the authenticity of a teacher and/or the truth of his or her teachings is legitimate? and that the above listed brainwashy pseudo arguments should be treated as disruptive behaviour by the moderators?

Best wishes,

R'n'R
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Re: TOS #2

Postby Blue Garuda » Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:45 am

Being allowed to question everything as long as not with a trolling intention may be fine, but my experience of several forums is that the three 'poisonous' topics of Cults, Vegetarianism and Rebirth almost all end up in some very nasty personal exchanges and create more heat than light.

In some cases, people don't so much troll as seek out forums and threads to use as a platform for their pet hates.

It's hard to compose ToS as someone will inevitably find a problem with the wording, interpretation or the entire stance of the forum.

The alternative is to have no ToS, and the owner can say it's MY FORUM and you'll take whatever I dish out, stfu, leave or get banned!

That really is rather tempting! LOL :)
Last edited by Blue Garuda on Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TOS #2

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:17 pm

Blue Garuda wrote:Being allowed to question everything as long as not with a trolling intention may be fine, but my experience of several forums is that the three 'poisonous' topics of Cults, Vegetarianism and Rebirth almost all end up in some very nasty personal exchanges and create more heat than light.


Yes, I see that problem, but that's exactly my reason to bring this topic up. I believe there are certain forms of hostile behaviour which have an escalating effects on conflicts, and these brainwashy pseudo-arguments certainly are such behaviour. Telling somebody that rational examination or criticism is itself a form of negative speech is a passively-agressive act of trying to shut the other person down because one doesn't like his opinion. Even if maybe sometimes people are not aware of this - in the outcome it is an extremely hostile move and it adds fuel to any conflict. I just wish that we had a bit more of a proactive forum culture here, where the moderators give people who behave in such ways a warning - before things escalate.

As to the "question everything" thing, maybe I've emphasised it so much that now it appears I'm some kind of a sceptic. But that's not my intention. Generally I'd rather go with Wittgenstein: you need a reason to have a doubt.

Bye,

R'n'R
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Re: TOS #2

Postby catmoon » Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:54 pm

I believe there are certain forms of hostile behaviour which have an escalating effects on conflicts.


It's true. Escalation takes well defined forms. It generally starts with the claim that the opposition is either not listening, not following the arguments, or being irrational. The next step is an insinuation that the opposition is not capable of following or constructing a rational argument. Step three, ulterior motives are suspected and mental illness is suggested, and kabooom! Unfortunately, a mod may drop in for a couple of hours on Tuesday, see all is well, and the next day there are ten new pages of "kaboom" posted in a single thread.

I just wish that we had a bit more of a proactive forum culture here, where the moderators give people who behave in such ways a warning - before things escalate.


To do this reliably, we would have to activate a board feature that requires every post to be reviewed by a mod before it appears on the board. Needless to say, that would have other major effects on the board.
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Re: TOS #2

Postby muni » Sat Jul 21, 2012 8:25 am

waimengwan wrote:Instead of talking about the conduct of this teacher or that teacher why don't we focus on our our practice.

The "Talking and Discussing about Teachers' sadhana will not get us closer to enlightenment one bit. Stop policing others, start policing our own mindstreams.

We have to let others know about false teachers, well if we keep doing that what time do we have for our own practice as this type of activity can consume lifetimes of energy.


:thumbsup:
Indeed, while we ourselves are confused states and sell "our views", two for the price of three, we are not able to see clear at all and practice isn't.
This example is once given: "in our own confused state we are like a wild animal caught in a trap and we see not clear whether a hand is offering liberation or isn't to trust". We can check and help others honestly, so that fellows feel no doubt and turn their face to Dharma. Trust is so very important.

I think it is easy to forget that it is about the offered wisdom to awaken us out of our pain. That is not a samsaric luxury like choosing a faculty which fit us.
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Re: TOS #2

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Mon Jul 23, 2012 3:08 pm

catmoon wrote:
I just wish that we had a bit more of a proactive forum culture here, where the moderators give people who behave in such ways a warning - before things escalate.


To do this reliably, we would have to activate a board feature that requires every post to be reviewed by a mod before it appears on the board. Needless to say, that would have other major effects on the board.


Uaargghhh ... that would be awful. Premoderated forums are hell.

I wasn't aware that the moderating team is understaffed. I thought when things escalate and nothing happens the mods just stand by and shrug their shoulders... I've seen some other forums like that before where the moderators were applying a policy that everything goes unless it might be reason for a court case. Sorry for that misunderstanding.

Btw, during the last couple of days I've changed my mind regarding the "question and/or discuss everything" thing. I remember that at e-Sangha it was forbidden to discuss the Karmapa affair, and I believe that was really a good thing. Because there is no way a discussion on the internet about this topic can ever come to a possible solution. For people like us who do not have siddhis the question who the real Karmapa is is a question transcending the limits of our knowledge, and all that is left is to rely on authorities or speculate. The problem is there are authorities on either side of the affair, and, since followers of each Karmapa see their own Karmapa in an aura of golden light while the "other" one appears to be a dull and boring deadhead to them, epistemologically speculations based on one's own perception are a dead end, too. The same goes for historic evidence, because each side has their own reports, their own history books, their own journalists and wittnesses.

Apparently whenever that topic comes up things get very heated and people start to smash each other's heads. Since it's impossible to solve that problem in an internet discussion forum, I'd really agree if this topic would get banned from discussion here. In fact, I even suggest that this topic gets banned.
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Re: TOS #2

Postby catmoon » Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:51 pm

Actually we had a thread here where at the end of the day most of the participants agreed that the only thing better than a Karmapa was two Karmapas. It can be looked at as an unparalleled blessing.
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Re: TOS #2

Postby muni » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:46 am

catmoon wrote:Actually we had a thread here where at the end of the day most of the participants agreed that the only thing better than a Karmapa was two Karmapas. It can be looked at as an unparalleled blessing.



"In a this time it is a truly blessing to have more good teachers", a simple Nyingma monk explained me.

We went to offer butter lamps. _/\_
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Re: TOS #2

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:50 pm

catmoon wrote:Actually we had a thread here where at the end of the day most of the participants agreed that the only thing better than a Karmapa was two Karmapas. It can be looked at as an unparalleled blessing.


Good point. Helps me to clarify my position: what I had in mind was anatgonistic discussions of people trying to proove that their Karmapa is the one and only real Karmapa.

Meta-discussions on how to cope with the situation can be very fruitful.
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Re: TOS #2

Postby cesar » Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:23 pm

muni wrote:
catmoon wrote:Actually we had a thread here where at the end of the day most of the participants agreed that the only thing better than a Karmapa was two Karmapas. It can be looked at as an unparalleled blessing.



"In a this time it is a truly blessing to have more good teachers", a simple Nyingma monk explained me.

We went to offer butter lamps. _/\_



a friend shared a story of when he asked Karmapa of the controversy and Gyalwa Karmapa said, "More hands to do the job."

:)

Rely on your teacher for guidance, rely on your own experience for wisdom.

cheers!
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Re: TOS #2

Postby Konchog1 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:34 pm

Isn't there difference between respecting a teacher and ignoring bad behavior? Lord Tsongkhapa says that if your teacher contradicts the Dharma, your teacher is wrong (LRCM eng v1 pg 86 tib 48). But he continues to say that you can't bad mouth him.

It seems to me, you could summon the police on your teacher and still respect him. Especially in Tantra, if you find your guru murdering people you call the police and thank your guru for the lesson on nonvirtue. He sacrificed himself for the lesson. E ma ho!

Or am I wrong on this?

So similarly, one shouldn't be offended by rumors and controversies about one's teacher. To paraphrase Tsem Rinpoche from memory: "MY guru is wrong?! MY school is wrong?! I am wrong?!" It's just an ego game.

Besides teachers aren't much worse then teachers of the past. For example, Ra Lotsawa.
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Re: TOS #2

Postby Ramon1920 » Sat Aug 10, 2013 5:25 am

There is no general need to mention a particular teacher when you can point out the activity or philosophical dis-congruity with the Buddha's teaching I believe.
Talking about the actual issue, which may be a personal issue if a student is on the forum inquiring about it, seems adequate in general.
Discussing wholesome and unwholesome, valid and invalid, skillful and unskillful, is the "meat and potatoes" of the forum.
To throw away the forum because it implicates some teacher somewhere who has an opposing view would be unreasonable.

There are some terrible cults and con artists out there; that's true, but I don't trust the collective forum to be able to correctly discern which is which with total certainty and the attention from said cults and charlatans would likely cause the website to be shut down one way or another.

I can relate to your dismay ReasonAndRhyme.
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