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.