public evaluation of teachers

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public evaluation of teachers

Postby xylem » Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:33 pm

I would like to suggest that the forum charter or whatever be amended to prohibit the public evaluation of Buddhist teachers. I make this suggestion on the basis of several reasons:

1. If the teachers are, in fact, legitimate, then this is the cause for a good deal of negative karma. That karma is associated not only with maligning that teacher, but also in potentially ruining the faith of others and discouraging people from seeking that refuge.

2. The validity of any teacher can't be determined on the basis of "checking their papers". In general an absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. This is particularly true with this subject as we are generally exposed to only a thimble-full of Buddhist culture in the West.

3. A teacher needs to be evaluated over a long period of time, even if the teacher is by all measures legitimate. This allows the student to evaluate their karmic relationship with a teacher. A thumbs up on an internet forum means very little in this regard.

4. Even if members of a forum were to perform the necessary due diligence to evaluate a alleged teacher's credibility, the utility of that information is then a function of peoples' faith in these forum members. It really doesn't instill much faith when lamas and sanghas are torn to threads publicly.

5. People can be wrong and this can be devastating to students.

I appreciate the desire to want to protect students from false teachers, but I'm not sure a public inquiry is the way to accomplish this.
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Re: public evaluation of teachers

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:09 pm

Hi xylem,

Thanks for your suggestion. You make a few good points. I'll give you my opinion about this.

xylem wrote:I would like to suggest that the forum charter or whatever be amended to prohibit the public evaluation of Buddhist teachers. I make this suggestion on the basis of several reasons.

There are known frauds. It's a public service to warn prospective students about these cases. Knowing who they are and staying silent is lack of compassion or connivance.

1. If the teachers are, in fact, legitimate, then this is the cause for a good deal of negative karma. That karma is associated not only with maligning that teacher, but also in potentially ruining the faith of others and discouraging people from seeking that refuge.

Badmouthing a teacher is not the same as questioning his credentials. If we don't allow the first, the second is perfectly legitimate in my opinion. Investigating a teacher's credibility, and this also goes by checking if such person has the credentials to be a teacher, is not only wise, it's mandatory if one has any common sense.

2. The validity of any teacher can't be determined on the basis of "checking their papers". In general an absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. This is particularly true with this subject as we are generally exposed to only a thimble-full of Buddhist culture in the West.

Of course not. Just checking the papers is far from enough. Still it's very useful. If you are going to buy a car, you check its papers. Then you do a test drive. If the car has no papers, even if it seems a nice car in the test drive, it may let you down one month later or it may be stolen... you can get in every sort of problems. It's the same. If a teacher has no "papers", even if he looks nice in the beginning, you can get in all sort of problems a few months later. The risk is there even when they have their "papers" (permission to teach by a qualified lama, proper training and so on and so forth), let alone when they don't. Teacher don't appear out of thin air. They have a history that lead them to become teachers. If such history can't be confirmed, the risk of being in front of a fake is high.

3. A teacher needs to be evaluated over a long period of time, even if the teacher is by all measures legitimate. This allows the student to evaluate their karmic relationship with a teacher. A thumbs up on an internet forum means very little in this regard.

But a thumbs down may mean a lot if indeed a fake is exposed as such and someone is prevented from ruining a precious human life following a blind.
A thumbs down is more useful to spot frauds, not to validate teachers. Everyone knows such isn't possible. So you are seeing things reversed.

4. Even if members of a forum were to perform the necessary due diligence to evaluate a alleged teacher's credibility, the utility of that information is then a function of peoples' faith in these forum members. It really doesn't instill much faith when lamas and sanghas are torn to threads publicly.

They can check the credentials themselves, as they should.

5. People can be wrong and this can be devastating to students.

It's way more devastating following fake teachers.

I appreciate the desire to want to protect students from false teachers, but I'm not sure a public inquiry is the way to accomplish this.

It's just a way to help, quite efficacious.

So the main points are: we don't validate teachers. We don't allow people badmouthing teachers (real teachers). If we know that a certain person is a fake, not a teacher, we share that knowledge. Not doing so would be tacitly allowing them to take advantage of others.
Key points: we don't validate anyone; we protect people from known frauds if we can; we don't allow badmouthing of people which, to our knowledge, are not frauds.

Your way of approaching things is prone to give protection to all sorts of frauds. It doesn't do anything in terms of validating teachers or helping students. It doesn't help to protect anyone, but the frauds themselves.
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Re: public evaluation of teachers

Postby mint » Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:59 pm

Unless everybody decides to follow rockstar gurus like Namkhai Norbu, I don't know how or why public evaluation of teachers should be avoided so long as nothing is said libelously. Even gurus like Namkhai Norbu are publicly scrutinized - but we've come to accept it and ignore it. As the older generation dies off and newer generations are born and migrate West to teach, students should have the right to learn about prospective teachers in order to be protected from fakes - the fakes which use their nationality or culture to exploit unknowing yet trusting travellers who know no better. Public dissemination of information isn't going anywhere and is only growing exponentially - welcome to the 21st century. The least we can do is to ensure that discussion of self-professed teachers is handled courteously and respectfully - which, as I've seen on this forum, has always been the case.
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Re: public evaluation of teachers

Postby xylem » Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:06 pm

Dechen Norbu...

Your points are all well taken. I defer to the moderators.

I'm a little reluctant to post after recent events, but two comments:

One, I have noticed over the years on various different Buddhist forums (the old Tricycle, e-sangha and now here) that the most vitriolic and divisive threads generally involve the evaluation of the authenticity of Buddhist teachers and lineages. This takes up a huge amount of bandwidth. It also creates work for the moderators, distracts contributors with gossip, and makes the board generally subject to attack.

Two, my suggestion wasn't that such evaluations have no place in a Buddhist forum like DW, but rather that public evaluations are counter productive. Such inquiries can be directed to moderators and known lamas and scholars known to the community. Perhaps they could be directed privately as in the "tantra talk" forum.

-XY



-xy


Dechen Norbu wrote:Hi xylem,

Thanks for your suggestion. You make a few good points. I'll give you my opinion about this.

xylem wrote:I would like to suggest that the forum charter or whatever be amended to prohibit the public evaluation of Buddhist teachers. I make this suggestion on the basis of several reasons.

There are known frauds. It's a public service to warn prospective students about these cases. Knowing who they are and staying silent is lack of compassion or connivance.

1. If the teachers are, in fact, legitimate, then this is the cause for a good deal of negative karma. That karma is associated not only with maligning that teacher, but also in potentially ruining the faith of others and discouraging people from seeking that refuge.

Badmouthing a teacher is not the same as questioning his credentials. If we don't allow the first, the second is perfectly legitimate in my opinion. Investigating a teacher's credibility, and this also goes by checking if such person has the credentials to be a teacher, is not only wise, it's mandatory if one has any common sense.

2. The validity of any teacher can't be determined on the basis of "checking their papers". In general an absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. This is particularly true with this subject as we are generally exposed to only a thimble-full of Buddhist culture in the West.

Of course not. Just checking the papers is far from enough. Still it's very useful. If you are going to buy a car, you check its papers. Then you do a test drive. If the car has no papers, even if it seems a nice car in the test drive, it may let you down one month later or it may be stolen... you can get in every sort of problems. It's the same. If a teacher has no "papers", even if he looks nice in the beginning, you can get in all sort of problems a few months later. The risk is there even when they have their "papers" (permission to teach by a qualified lama, proper training and so on and so forth), let alone when they don't. Teacher don't appear out of thin air. They have a history that lead them to become teachers. If such history can't be confirmed, the risk of being in front of a fake is high.

3. A teacher needs to be evaluated over a long period of time, even if the teacher is by all measures legitimate. This allows the student to evaluate their karmic relationship with a teacher. A thumbs up on an internet forum means very little in this regard.

But a thumbs down may mean a lot if indeed a fake is exposed as such and someone is prevented from ruining a precious human life following a blind.
A thumbs down is more useful to spot frauds, not to validate teachers. Everyone knows such isn't possible. So you are seeing things reversed.

4. Even if members of a forum were to perform the necessary due diligence to evaluate a alleged teacher's credibility, the utility of that information is then a function of peoples' faith in these forum members. It really doesn't instill much faith when lamas and sanghas are torn to threads publicly.

They can check the credentials themselves, as they should.

5. People can be wrong and this can be devastating to students.

It's way more devastating following fake teachers.

I appreciate the desire to want to protect students from false teachers, but I'm not sure a public inquiry is the way to accomplish this.

It's just a way to help, quite efficacious.

So the main points are: we don't validate teachers. We don't allow people badmouthing teachers (real teachers). If we know that a certain person is a fake, not a teacher, we share that knowledge. Not doing so would be tacitly allowing them to take advantage of others.
Key points: we don't validate anyone; we protect people from known frauds if we can; we don't allow badmouthing of people which, to our knowledge, are not frauds.

Your way of approaching things is prone to give protection to all sorts of frauds. It doesn't do anything in terms of validating teachers or helping students. It doesn't help to protect anyone, but the frauds themselves.
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Re: public evaluation of teachers

Postby Malcolm » Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:10 pm

xylem wrote:
One, I have noticed over the years on various different Buddhist forums (the old Tricycle, e-sangha and now here) that the most vitriolic and divisive threads generally involve the evaluation of the authenticity of Buddhist teachers and lineages.


Correct, it is better to leave people to their delusions.

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there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

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Re: public evaluation of teachers

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:13 pm

xylem wrote:Dechen Norbu...

Your points are all well taken. I defer to the moderators.

I'm a little reluctant to post after recent events, but two comments:

One, I have noticed over the years on various different Buddhist forums (the old Tricycle, e-sangha and now here) that the most vitriolic and divisive threads generally involve the evaluation of the authenticity of Buddhist teachers and lineages. This takes up a huge amount of bandwidth. It also creates work for the moderators, distracts contributors with gossip, and makes the board generally subject to attack.

Two, my suggestion wasn't that such evaluations have no place in a Buddhist forum like DW, but rather that public evaluations are counter productive. Such inquiries can be directed to moderators and known lamas and scholars known to the community. Perhaps they could be directed privately as in the "tantra talk" forum.

-XY


The thing is... there are people too afraid to ask or that only learn they are following a fake after seeing a topic like those you wish to avoid.
I understand your perspective. Don't think otherwise. We take this seriously. But overall, the benefits of allowing such threads (with the due attention) seem to overcome their possible downsides. We just need to be careful.

Best wishes.
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Re: public evaluation of teachers

Postby davcuts » Wed Nov 16, 2011 10:36 pm

If you don't warn people about harmful teachers and traditions, chances are you do nothing but allow people to be hurt needlessly. Not only in this lifetime but many lifetimes to come. I myself got involved with a cult, and a teacher who insisted people follow him without question, have harsh feelings towards HH the Dalai Lama, and worship a spirit as a Buddha. As a result I found myself full of guilt, fear, and even suicidal. That is the end result of many who get involved with cults, and controversial teachers. I could now allow others to get involved with the cult without saying anything, but I could also allow people to walk in front of a bus without warning them they are about to be hit. The compassionate thing to do is warn people to stay away from something that can cause them a great deal of harm.

Take care,
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Re: public evaluation of teachers

Postby Caz » Wed Nov 16, 2011 10:54 pm

One persons trash is another persons treasure the quality of teachers and their works speaks for themselves take what benefit you can dwelling in negativity is against the path and leads toward the lower realms. :thumbsup:
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

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Re: public evaluation of teachers

Postby davcuts » Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:39 pm

A lot of things lead to lower realms. Worshiping a spirit for instance can cause rebirth in the hungry ghost realm. I could allow others to believe the spirit is a blessing or "treasure", but in the end it will only cause them to suffer a horrible fate. I for one will risk going to a lower realm by warning people about the dangers of being involved with a cult, if it keeps just one person from suffering the same fate it will be worth it. To remain silent while others are being beaten, robbed, and manipulated is not an option for me.
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Re: public evaluation of teachers

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:51 am

Greetings,

It doesn't take an oracle or a spirit to see where this is going...!

:toilet:

Maitri,
Retro. :)
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Re: public evaluation of teachers

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:02 am

Caz wrote:One persons trash is another persons treasure the quality of teachers and their works speaks for themselves take what benefit you can dwelling in negativity is against the path and leads toward the lower realms. :thumbsup:

You are completely free of not pointing frauds to others, even if you know they will be ruining their lives following a fake. It's up to you.
Just don't try to be the upholder of moral of Dharma Wheel, please.

Thanks.
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Re: public evaluation of teachers

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:02 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

It doesn't take an oracle or a spirit to see where this is going...!

:toilet:

Maitri,
Retro. :)

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Re: public evaluation of teachers

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:39 am

The victim and the supporter meet. This can't be pretty..Image

Guys, let me remind you of the ToS (4. Discussion of Controversial Practices and Traditions) before things get nasty.
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Re: public evaluation of teachers

Postby Thug4lyfe » Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:20 am

I heard dat if we accidently slander the wrong teacher the karmic effects will be endless! I don't wanna goto Avici hell!!!! :cry:

So good idea to ban these potential slanders

:shock: :shock:
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Re: public evaluation of teachers

Postby Caz » Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:56 am

davcuts wrote:A lot of things lead to lower realms. Worshiping a spirit for instance can cause rebirth in the hungry ghost realm. I could allow others to believe the spirit is a blessing or "treasure", but in the end it will only cause them to suffer a horrible fate. I for one will risk going to a lower realm by warning people about the dangers of being involved with a cult, if it keeps just one person from suffering the same fate it will be worth it. To remain silent while others are being beaten, robbed, and manipulated is not an option for me.


If theres one thing we can learn over the years thankfully its all in the mind :tongue:
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

Liberation in the Palm of your hand~Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche.
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Re: public evaluation of teachers

Postby davcuts » Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:39 am

I realize this is a subject of great debate. So with out breaking any TOS I would just like to state that it's easy for people to judge people for speaking out against their teachers. Stating it can be the cause of great suffering. I can only assume these people feel it's best just to let people get abused sexually, have people robbed of their life savings, have people destroyed spiritually, and mentally. I ask myself if a Bodhisattva would allow people to be hurt in the name of Dharma, or would they warn people to keep them from ever being harmed in the first place. Dharma is the most beautiful thing on earth. But people abuse it for worldly gain. The sad part is they can get away with it because of samaya. I even had one person tell me that if you speak badly about anyone who has taught you one verse of Dharma, then you have broken your samaya. So if a murderer, rapist, or thief teaches us Dharma we in no way can warn others to stay away from such a person, we just allow them to get hurt? If that's the case lets hope there is never a case where children are being abused by their teacher. When people ask why something like that would be allowed to go on, all we can say is because we are not allowed to see faults in our teachers, no matter what harm they may have caused. It after all was just in our minds.
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Re: public evaluation of teachers

Postby Caz » Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:14 am

:rolleye:
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

Liberation in the Palm of your hand~Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche.
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Re: public evaluation of teachers

Postby purple rose » Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:36 am

Thanks for the suggestion and subsequent comments. This matter is under review.

Topic locked.
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