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Presecular Buddhism

edited September 2007 in Buddhism Today
It has been awhile since I have visited the forums, and in that time I have stumbled across a website that peaked my interest greatly. Please forgive me if this website has been posted in the past and discussed, and if it has please direct me to that thread, but I was wondering what you all thought of this form of Buddhism:

http://www.attan.com

Admittedly it is a bit radical, and poorly demonstrated, but there are a bevy of interesting texts (to me). I guess my question would be, how much of this site, do you think, is fairly spot on, and how much is just a biased criticism of modern Buddhism. The reason for my concern is, I've always been something of a traditionalist in all aspects...it would make sense for me to be drawn to traditional Buddhism...but only if it is unadulterated. And they do cite passages.
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Comments

  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited April 2006
    We're familiar with the site, Malacosteus, and it's nonsense. Don't waste your time.
    I'll let others who know more about this than I explain to you the problems inherent in this perversion of Buddhism. But the fact that the "author" of the site hides his identity should have given you pause in the first place. This is garbage.

    Brigid
  • edited April 2006
    Okay woops, sorry. Like I said I just happened upon it, it wasn't something I was searching for.
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited April 2006
    Okay woops, sorry.

    LOL! That's O.K. I was harsh so I apologize.

    And talk about bad web design! Didn't it just make your head spin? When Xrayman and dkode were talking about design, Xray said that he tries to prevent having to scroll down to see the entire page. This crazy site could use a little of that kind of thinking. LOL!

    If I'm not mistaken, this is the Dark Zen site, or something to that effect. If you do a search here on newbuddhist.com for Dark Zen or A.E. Hollingsworth you'll find more information. You'll find many threads where two or three of Dark Zen's very few adherents came in and caused much trouble which is, apparently, their modus operandi. They like to stir up dirt and cause divisiveness and grief wherever they go.

    I'm not 100% certain that attan.com is Dark Zen but there are others on our site who will know for sure. The give away is that they try to put forth the notion that the Buddha actually taught a doctrine of eternal "self" when he didn't. I don't think any of them actually call themselves Buddhists. They just try to trash Buddhism by baffling with bs. They're an irritating, self-important lot and a complete waste of time when it comes to anything Buddhist. Very annoying.

    Brigid
  • edited April 2006
    If I'm not mistaken (and I often am!), that site was set up by one of AEH's cronies.
    The 2nd page is incredibly rascist, I won't even qualify it with any quotes but it's not too hard to spot - look for the charicatures on the right of the page.

    I must admit, when I was first investigating zen I found the main dark zen site (not the attan.com one) and found some of the texts quite interesting. It was only when I spent some time reading them that I realized they weren't for me.
  • edited April 2006
    It has been awhile since I have visited the forums, and in that time I have stumbled across a website that peaked my interest greatly. Please forgive me if this website has been posted in the past and discussed, and if it has please direct me to that thread, but I was wondering what you all thought of this form of Buddhism:

    http://www.attan.com

    Admittedly it is a bit radical, and poorly demonstrated, but there are a bevy of interesting texts (to me). I guess my question would be, how much of this site, do you think, is fairly spot on, and how much is just a biased criticism of modern Buddhism. The reason for my concern is, I've always been something of a traditionalist in all aspects...it would make sense for me to be drawn to traditional Buddhism...but only if it is unadulterated. And they do cite passages.


    Malacosteus,

    That's a very interesting site indeed. You may also be interested in the following:
    http://fundamentalbuddhism.com/ ...which is, I would say, just as "radical" as far as the notion of a presecular Buddhism is concerned, but much less caustic, more peacefully and less feverishly presented than the site you mentioned.

    Regarding attan.com, I know that just about everybody on these forums is going to tell you to run the other way. I am acquainted with the author of that site through yahoo Buddhism chat rooms, where I've butted heads with him on several occasions. He also runs a similarly designed site www.neoplatonist.com. It is distinct and independent, so far as I know, from the Dark Zen site, which is www.darkzen.org .

    Well, I know I'm probably going to lose a lot of credit with other members of these forums for saying so and taking it upon myself to defend the site in any way, but I would encourage you go on ahead and investigate these sites in earnest. There's a lot of good material there, and I trust you to have the wisdom to discard what is not useful to you according to your own judgement. You'll be rewarded if you spend some time comparing citations, checking dictionaries, etc. and doing some work to at least understand the point being made before you accept or reject any argument made there. I would have to caution you that you're not going to gain any popularity around here for it, though. :)

    in friendliness,
    V.
  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited April 2006
    I would have to agree with Vacch, Malecosteus.

    If Buddhism is something new to you - you should read, question, seek, learn everything you can about Buddhism. Certainly, you shouldn't just take the word of people here.

    Read the teachings of Buddha. Read about the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Read about Buddha's teachings about compassion and our interaction with other sentient beings. Read this site's teachings.

    I won't tell you what I think - unless you ask.

    You read this site and tell us what you think...

    -bf
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited April 2006
    Great. Here we go again.

    To any people reading this thread who are new to Buddhism (which most presumably are, hence the name of this site) and do not know and understand everything the Buddha himself taught I would like to give this caution:

    There is an incredible amount of garbage on the internet. It's very difficult to sift through all this information and misinformation without guidance or a good map and compass and a complete understanding of Buddhism. If you wish to waste a great deal of your time going through pile after pile after pile of, at best, questionable content, you can do so at your leisure with any internet connection.

    However, if you want to keep the confusion to a minimum and wish to learn about Buddhism by relying on trusted sources of information you may want to give this site, attan.com, and others like it a miss.

    Since we are beginners and we're depending on those here not to steer us down false roads that waste our precious time or worse, I would like to respectfully request that discussion related to sites of this kind be kept off this board unless it is used as a warning. There's a whole cyber universe in which to argue, discuss and debate such topics as you will find on attan.com.

    However, when someone asks in all innocence if this is the kind of site that will be useful to a beginner in Buddhism we owe it to that person to tell them the truth. No, attan.com is not helpful in any way to a beginner who is already bewildered by the amount of information already available from trusted sources on Buddhism.

    If I had not already been a member of this board and had not gone through all of this previously and been guided by people like Genryu, Palzang and Elohim towards information that could be trusted, I may very well have had my studies hijacked by those with an agenda that has absolutely nothing to do with Buddhism. We are each other's teachers here, as scary as that is, and we have an obligation to those who know less than we do to steer them in the right direction. We also have an obligation to ourselves to question the motives and advice given to us by those who know more than we do.

    Having said that, Brian's purpose for this site was to create a place of safety for those new to Buddhism because he has no agenda other than the sharing of the Dharma. The internet is already a very difficult place to navigate and is obviously available to all who come here. And when someone asks our advice on something like attan.com, we need to give it to them.

    Brigid
  • edited April 2006
    I agree with bf........ no-one should accept anyone else's truthes and should look and see for themselves - with caution!

    If you read sites like this, come back here and tell people what you think and be willing to listen to their alternative interpretations. This is what you did, Malacosteus. Be willing to listen to what reasoned thoughts others may have about these sites. Be prepared to change your own opinions but not have them changed for you! You certainly have no need to apologise for showing interest in this site and wanting to know others' opinions!

    I agree with Brigid in that the internet is a diverse and crazy place (and yes, in some cases, dangerous). However, no-one here should be anyone elses net-nanny. :)

    I know that the contributors/followers of sites like this have been somewhat disruptive here, although to be fair, I haven't followed these conversations so couldn't really comment.

    With regards to my own opinion on attan.com, I've only scanned it but general aggressiveness of the approach and the racism evident on page 2 means I would never give it the time of day, personally :)

    Malacosteus, I'm very new to learning about buddhism myself but my suggestion would be as it would be for anything - make up your own mind based on the information you find - be willing to listen to anything, but never take anything at face value. We have to see all perspectives to be able to find our own way.

    With respect to all,
    Sas :buck:
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited April 2006
    No matter what the appearances, everything contains a lesson to learn and one we can use positively, no matter what the content. The important is to keep everything open: Eyes, Ears, Heart and Mind.
  • edited April 2006
    I have barely enough time to post on this forum let alone study Buddhism extensively at the moment, though I plan on a deep immersion soon. I won't say either way on my opinions of the website I mentioned to start this thread but I do have a question, and forgive my ignorance for a moment: what is the role of the soul in Buddhism, the Buddhism many of you advocate, and how does it contrast with the role which is exemplified on Attan. It really does baffle me (I am a bit embarassed).
  • edited April 2006
    From my understanding there is no belief in an eternal soul in Buddhism.
    From discussions in the past this is the main problem people had with Dark Zen and the Attan site. They both advocated the belief that Buddhism supports the idea of a soul when really what they were doing was creating a conflation of Buddhist and Hindu belief systems and backing it up with poorly translated sutras.
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited April 2006
    Good concise answer, Frizzer.

    Mal,

    Don't be embarrassed. This place is for beginners and our questions, and you're totally safe here. We're expected to be ignorant, so don't worry.

    Your post illustrates the problem I was trying to express. Non-Self is a subtle understanding and it's part of the higher learning of Buddhism which takes a lot of study and practice to get to. Understanding non-Self correctly in the Buddhist view is hard and confusing enough but when we throw stuff like you find on attan.com into the mix it becomes hopelessly tangled. That's why I was saying that as a beginner that website isn't helpful, it's only confusing. Even Picasso had to learn how to paint in the classical style first before he went beyond it. We have to understand the basics first and not jump ahead in the textbook because that's the way the human brain learns and that's the way the Dharma was set up to be learned; step by step. It really is hard enough on it's own.

    Please don't ever be embarrassed to ask a question here. That's what this site is for. And just so you know, your question above is the opposite of ignorant, it's incredibly astute and exactly the question that is the most helpful to ask once you come off attan.com.

    There's a thread here that is a very scholarly, long, and to me, impossible to understand debate on whether the Buddha taught a doctrine of non-Self or a permanent self (soul) or something or other. I'm so not even close to being able to tackle that kind of subject so I left it to the scholars. I'm still a beginner.

    But I do know that that the Buddha also taught that doctrine, opinion, ideas, and everything else that was not based on personal experiential knowledge was to be let go. So I stay away from doctrine and concentrate on what I can know myself through my own experience. I was advised very early on to do this by a wise person and I've never been given better advice. Study is only a small part of Buddhism. Practice is what it's really all about. So if it's of any help I'd say that when you get more immersed in Buddhism, learn how to practice as soon as you can and practice. That means meditation mostly but also your general behavior and way of thinking and speaking. It means developing a compassionate heart. Start slowly and resist the urge to jump ahead. It's like weight training. You have to start with the lower weights and work your way up. It's just training, like any other kind of training.

    You've been coming here for a long time. I remember reading one of your posts about being immersed in TV culture and middle American values. I thought that was a good observation. You're in your early twenties, right? So you'll know what I mean about being patient with the process and yourself as you go along.

    Be well, Mal.

    Brigid
  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited April 2006
    I agree with bf........ no-one should accept anyone else's truthes and should look and see for themselves - with caution!

    If you read sites like this, come back here and tell people what you think and be willing to listen to their alternative interpretations. This is what you did, Malacosteus. Be willing to listen to what reasoned thoughts others may have about these sites. Be prepared to change your own opinions but not have them changed for you! You certainly have no need to apologise for showing interest in this site and wanting to know others' opinions!

    I agree with Brigid in that the internet is a diverse and crazy place (and yes, in some cases, dangerous). However, no-one here should be anyone elses net-nanny. :)

    I know that the contributors/followers of sites like this have been somewhat disruptive here, although to be fair, I haven't followed these conversations so couldn't really comment.

    With regards to my own opinion on attan.com, I've only scanned it but general aggressiveness of the approach and the racism evident on page 2 means I would never give it the time of day, personally :)

    Malacosteus, I'm very new to learning about buddhism myself but my suggestion would be as it would be for anything - make up your own mind based on the information you find - be willing to listen to anything, but never take anything at face value. We have to see all perspectives to be able to find our own way.

    With respect to all,
    Sas :buck:

    Thanks for the MrsKarma...

    I honestly believe that all thought processes regarding Buddhism should be given a fair shake. I don't believe on ignoring a certain teachings just because someone else told you that it's a load of crap and you shouldn't listen to it.

    Where would we learn to discern truth in teachings? We've just had a discussion regarding Dharma Seals where - no teaching should be accepted if it doesn't support the notions of: impermanence, nonself, and nirvana.

    By constantly being told what to believe and what not to believe - you may find you come to a cross road in your life and all of a sudden - you ain't gonna have no one to tell you what to do. Learning to learn - learning to discern - this is what we should be doing with Buddha's teachings - not just parroting someone elses opinions.

    At least my $0.02 cents. Obviously, you're all free to do what you want and I'll still like ya :)

    -bf
  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited April 2006
    I have barely enough time to post on this forum let alone study Buddhism extensively at the moment, though I plan on a deep immersion soon. I won't say either way on my opinions of the website I mentioned to start this thread but I do have a question, and forgive my ignorance for a moment: what is the role of the soul in Buddhism, the Buddhism many of you advocate, and how does it contrast with the role which is exemplified on Attan. It really does baffle me (I am a bit embarassed).

    Mal,

    That's a good question.

    Frizzer had a good response.

    Buddha taught that there is suffering in life.

    Buddha taught there is a way to remove suffering from our lives.

    Buddha taught us the way to remove that suffering.

    Buddha taught what evil deeds are like.

    Buddha taught what good deeds are like.

    Why worry about something that NO ONE has any idea of what happens after we die.

    You're here. You're alive. These are "knowns".

    Do something with what you know... the "now".

    -bf
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited April 2006
    Malacosteus,

    Some people are simply determined to place a self or a soul into the Buddha's teachings. They have been doing so for the past 2,600 years. The problem is that the Buddha only pointed people towards the end of suffering. In all of the ways he did this, a doctrine of self was not one of them. What he did do was teach his disciples to observe the five aggregates or the six sense bases and their objects as anatta (not-self). He also taught that if one were to try and describe something outside of these, they would be put to grief because such a thing would lie beyond range. So, the role of a soul is non-existent in Buddhism. What is existent are the multitude of ways that the Buddha teaches his followers to free themselves from suffering. This starts from the simple observation of the five precepts to deep states of meditative absorption and contemplation of the three characteristics of existence. In the end, the causes of suffering will be completely abandoned, and that is the highest bliss of Nibbana (unbinding).

    Sincerely,

    Jason
  • edited April 2006
    I have barely enough time to post on this forum let alone study Buddhism extensively at the moment, though I plan on a deep immersion soon. I won't say either way on my opinions of the website I mentioned to start this thread but I do have a question, and forgive my ignorance for a moment: what is the role of the soul in Buddhism, the Buddhism many of you advocate, and how does it contrast with the role which is exemplified on Attan. It really does baffle me (I am a bit embarassed).

    For my part, I think the issue is very much more simple than people think it is. Where it gets complicated is when you get into the details of clarifying terminology and trying to establish a meeting of the minds between people who have radically different viewpoints and interpretations. Which is true of any controversy...despite the complications of dialogue, I am sure the foundational viewpoint of either side tends to be seen as crystal clear and beautifully simple to themselves. Thus the level of detail required in the discussion of the noted thread on the meaning of anatta. But the principle issue is quite simple, and to recognize this is to emphasize a point which has been made in disagreement with my view and which I, curiously enough, heartily agree with: That you have to realize within yourself what is right for you (meaning, practice ). One mentioned that study is only a small part of Buddhism, but it is a fundamental part in that not only is "listening to the Buddha" (for us, studying the teachings of the Buddha) actually in itself a legitimate "practice," but it is necessary for us to develop the wisdom required for us to know what "practice" entails, its purpose and procedure.

    Without getting into those details for the purpose of a point by point debate, I shouldn't go any further without admitting that I myself interpret the teachings of the Buddha to be far more strongly friendly to "Self" than the majority of Buddhists here. As such my biggest contention is with the view that outrightly denies Self absolutely and flatly in such a way that the Buddha is never caught doing in his most intimate teachings, the Sutta Pitaka. Moderates who simply decry any view of Self be it nihilism or eternalism would be much closer company for me than those who deny Self (for me it is striking how commonplace it is, at least amongst the internet Buddhist community) altogether or interpret Self as being only a provisional designation for the five khandhas/the existing personality which break apart on death.

    For me Self is the most basic fact and foundation underlying the Buddha's teaching, and it is by virtue of and for the sake of Self that the third and fourth noble truths are possible. That Self is not describable in terms of existing things objectively is necessary: you don't find Self or describe Self, you are Self; or to put it another way, are what that which is not-Self is not. In my case this is not just a prejudgement prior to learning about the Buddha's teaching (you will often hear the accusation levelled towards those with a similar view to mine that they are simply Hindus trying to graft their beliefs into Buddhism) and therefore tinting and distorting what I see, but an understanding that has evolved out of familiarity with the Buddha's teaching only after significant amounts of study and contemplation, trying to be open-minded to what the discourses were saying to me. As such this evolving view of the Buddha's teaching for me has clarified many issues, contradictions, and confusions, contrary to the assertions of many that it only complicates things. I find the opposite to be true: a denial of Self over-complicates the Buddha's teachings to the point of utter hopelessness. But that view is only for my own part. I understand each person's most intimately held interpretations of Buddhism can be quite hard won through a long process of study, practice, and dialogue and so it can be quite difficult to understand the views of others. I can't say with certainty what is useful to others; I'm no Sammasambuddha.
    Respectfully,
    V.
  • edited May 2006
    Greetings everyone.

    Apologies for my absence (again). I just wanted to wrap this thread up because, looking back, I find it a little amateurish on my part. After study the website I first mentioned in my spare time, and comparing samples of those texts with recommendations and threads from this website, I have decided that the brand of 'buddhism' advocated on attan.com is not for me. While I find some of the texts there very interesting, and while I personally do advocate a sort of 'rebirth' of tradition (but mostly regarding relationship with nature), the rest of the website seems like so much bias, something that I cannot comfortably apply to my everyday life.

    Thank you everyone for your insight. I still have several questions regarding Buddhism in general, but I will do my best to seek the answers myself so as not to burden you all with my unintelligence ;)
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited May 2006
    Ha ha, very funny, you little imp.

    But actually, it is a good idea to try to find the answers yourself first because it's good for your own training and education etc. etc. But bring some things back here for discussion. As Fede just said in another thread, two heads are better than one, right? And we like your company even though we don't get to see you very often. I happen to like the questions you ask. You have a sharp, inquisitive, but most importantly, a flexible mind and it's good talking with you.

    With love,
    Brigid
  • edited July 2006
    I must confess that when I first started out I got into one of these "fundamentalistic" interpretations of Buddhism... Boy, do I dislike all forms of fundamentalism!!! Luckily I got into this forum and I held onto my proper free will... :rockon:

    But I will say it is still better than some "alternative history" sites that serve you garbage and corrupt the mind of those who a true passion for knowledge... I wonder how many great minds have been ruined by those with their own agendas... :(
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited July 2006
    Not to get any controversy started, but the author of that website is known as Ancientbuddhism on Yahoo.com & I have heard that he is Ken Wheeler (who is credited with some of the translations). Either way, he is a close associate of Zenmar of Darkzen (aka AE Hollingsworth). If you have ever run into this fellow on yahoo.chat, you will know that he is a very toxic individual and seems to have discarded Right Speech as a worthy pursuit. There are reports that I have heard that indicate much worse than wrong speech, but I don't have the sources with me at this point so I can't verify which reports were specifically about Zenmar & which were about Ken. Anyway, the site admittedly draws much inspiration from Coomaraswamy, who is a Vedantist, and the like. Also, from what I hear, Ken Wheeler's translations are highly questionable and seem to go against the current Pali Scholarship. He also draws from the work of Mr & Mrs Rhys-Davids who were pioneers of their time, but many of whose interpretations have been abandoned over the past 50+ years due to further scholarship and correction.

    Anyway, please take this website with a very large grain of salt & continue to compare with other sites & sources who render the Pali in a much different light.

    _/\_
    metta
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited July 2006
    not1not2 wrote:
    Not to get any controversy started, but the author of that website is known as Ancientbuddhism on Yahoo.com & I have heard that he is Ken Wheeler (who is credited with some of the translations). Either way, he is a close associate of Zenmar of Darkzen (aka AE Hollingsworth). If you have ever run into this fellow on yahoo.chat, you will know that he is a very toxic individual and seems to have discarded Right Speech as a worthy pursuit. There are reports that I have heard that indicate much worse than wrong speech, but I don't have the sources with me at this point so I can't verify which reports were specifically about Zenmar & which were about Ken. Anyway, the site admittedly draws much inspiration from Coomaraswamy, who is a Vedantist, and the like. Also, from what I hear, Ken Wheeler's translations are highly questionable and seem to go against the current Pali Scholarship. He also draws from the work of Mr & Mrs Rhys-Davids who were pioneers of their time, but many of whose interpretations have been abandoned over the past 50+ years due to further scholarship and correction.

    Anyway, please take this website with a very large grain of salt & continue to compare with other sites & sources who render the Pali in a much different light.

    _/\_
    metta

    We have been visited by these people.
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited July 2006
    ....Yes..... :bs:
    .....and the doorknob hit them where the dog shoulda bit them....:grin:
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited July 2006
    LOL! I've never heard that one before, Fede. Good one!
  • edited July 2006
    Are the people who seem to have been hijacking the anatta article on wikipedia for months (or maybe longer?) from the same group?
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited July 2006
    aquula wrote:
    Are the people who seem to have been hijacking the anatta article on wikipedia for months (or maybe longer?) from the same group?


    They may be. They have some ideas which might be interesting to discuss were it not for their unpleasant attitudes.
  • edited July 2006
    ajani_mgo wrote:
    I must confess that when I first started out I got into one of these "fundamentalistic" interpretations of Buddhism... Boy, do I dislike all forms of fundamentalism!!! Luckily I got into this forum and I held onto my proper free will... :rockon:

    But I will say it is still better than some "alternative history" sites that serve you garbage and corrupt the mind of those who a true passion for knowledge... I wonder how many great minds have been ruined by those with their own agendas... :(

    You could replace the word Buddhism with Christianity in that statement and start a civil war down here in the Bible Belt!
  • edited July 2006
    not1not2 wrote:
    If you have ever run into this fellow on yahoo.chat, you will know that he is a very toxic individual and seems to have discarded Right Speech as a worthy pursuit. There are reports that I have heard that indicate much worse than wrong speech, but I don't have the sources with me at this point so I can't verify which reports were specifically about Zenmar & which were about Ken.... Also, from what I hear, Ken Wheeler's translations are highly questionable and seem to go against the current Pali Scholarship.

    (emphases mine)... I find this post disheartening...Right Speech, you say? Since when does Right Speech not include refraining from tale-bearing and divisive speech, hearsay and personal negativity? What is so disheartening to me is that in the very act of what you seem to believe is a defense of Right Speech, you may be transgressing it without even noticing! I believe you are nobler than that, friend, but I understand perceived righteousness can be a heady beguiler. :) If my saying this turns out to be harmful, it is due to my lack of wisdom rather than harmful intentions. I'm not trying to accuse, but remind. What I would like is for us all to be mindful of the Noble Path, even when confronting the ideas and behaviors of those we find to be unpleasant.
    Anyway, please take this website with a very large grain of salt & continue to compare with other sites & sources who render the Pali in a much different light.
    I have always been somewhat unsure of the exact meaning of the expression taking something with a grain of salt (does it simply imply that you should disregard it?), but if what is intended here is a caution to be studious and carefully reflective when considering the issue and the material, I wholeheartedly agree!

    in friendliness,
    V.
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited July 2006
    (emphases mine)... I find this post disheartening...Right Speech, you say? Since when does Right Speech not include refraining from tale-bearing and divisive speech, hearsay and personal negativity? What is so disheartening to me is that in the very act of what you seem to believe is a defense of Right Speech, you may be transgressing it without even noticing! I believe you are nobler than that, friend, but I understand perceived righteousness can be a heady beguiler. :) If my saying this turns out to be harmful, it is due to my lack of wisdom rather than harmful intentions. I'm not trying to accuse, but remind. What I would like is for us all to be mindful of the Noble Path, even when confronting the ideas and behaviors of those we find to be unpleasant.

    Sorry, but hearsay aside, AncientBuddhism is a very toxic individual. If you have ever encountered him on Yahoo.chat, then you would likely know what I'm talking about. He insults chatters, calls people 'demons' if they take a non-self stance & brags about how he has personally harassed individuals. Additionally, I have not stated anything that has not come from reliable sources & I do believe I qualified my statements where certainty was not absolute. Could you please be a little more specific as to what aspect of Right Speech I have violated?
    The criteria for deciding what is worth saying

    [1] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial (or: not connected with the goal), unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

    [2] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

    [3] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing & disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.

    [4] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.

    [5] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.

    [6] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, and endearing & agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. Why is that? Because the Tathagata has sympathy for living beings."

    — MN 58

    I have done my best to follow this guideline, so I would be interested to hear what you call into question. Also, this is not a simple matter of gossip or idle chatter, as there are arguable distortions of the Dhamma on this page (though I do not intend to debate this here), not to mention a lot of sect bashing and negative implications against 'secular schools of buddhism. Having encountered this individual on-line on multiple occassions, I know there is in fact maliciousness behind this page. I feel that, regardless of one's stance on anatta is, people should be aware of the controversy surrounding the individual who runs this site and the translations he has put forward. Now, there is a legitimate debate surrounding these issues, but I have some serious problems with this website which I think people should be aware of that go beyond my own doctrinal biases.
    I have always been somewhat unsure of the exact meaning of the expression taking something with a grain of salt (does it simply imply that you should disregard it?), but if what is intended here is a caution to be studious and carefully reflective when considering the issue and the material, I wholeheartedly agree!

    in friendliness,
    V.

    I would say it means the latter, but I do urge a little more caution than usual here, as these translations are held as questionable by some and even distortion by others. However, I did not want to get into a big Pali debate here, as I am basing my statements off of the opinion of others who are much more well versed in Pali and the problematic aspects of Ken Wheeler's translations than I. I have a definite bias towards translations by those who are monastics and are educated in the traditional manner such as Bhikkhu Bodhi and the like.

    My point is, that if you are looking to this website as a source of guidance in Buddhism or as representative of the core Buddhist teachings, then I would urge a very rigorous approach here in order to see which points conflict which other reputable translations & and put them aside until you can see why ther is discrepency & and can make an adequately informed decision as to which one is more in-line with the practice & goal of Buddhism.

    BTW, none of these comments are intended to reflect upon you, Vach. I have had very positive interactions with you & I respect your opinion. I hope you don't take offense at my statements.

    _/\_
    metta
  • edited July 2006
    BTW, none of these comments are intended to reflect upon you, Vach. I have had very positive interactions with you & I respect your opinion. I hope you don't take offense at my statements.

    No offense taken at all, Not1Not2, and the sentiment is mutual.
    not1not2 wrote:
    Sorry, but hearsay aside, AncientBuddhism is a very toxic individual. If you have ever encountered him on Yahoo.chat, then you would likely know what I'm talking about. He insults chatters, calls people 'demons' if they take a non-self stance & brags about how he has personally harassed individuals. Additionally, I have not stated anything that has not come from reliable sources & I do believe I qualified my statements where certainty was not absolute. Could you please be a little more specific as to what aspect of Right Speech I have violated?

    From one point of view I can understand where you are coming from. Bear in mind that it is not in defense of any personal conduct on the part of any individual that I speak, but rather from my perspective on what the spirit of our discipline is about. I do sense that your response reflects a differing view on Right Speech than I hold. Since you asked for specifics, I will go into why I spoke up. There are elements of hearsay involved, but in the main I was reminded of our admonition to avoid divisive speech, which is expanded upon here: "Abandoning divisive speech he abstains from divisive speech. What he has heard here he does not tell there to break those people apart from these people here. What he has heard there he does not tell here to break these people apart from those people there. Thus reconciling those who have broken apart or cementing those who are united, he loves concord, delights in concord, enjoys concord, speaks things that create concord." this is an expansion of what is meant by "divisive tale-bearing speech," and to me communicates the heart of the matter. To take a single example, your repeated use of the words "toxic individual" have, behaviors of the individual in question aside, heavily loaded significance based on evaluative opinion and persuasive intent. It basically implies that if one interacts with this person (or the kinds of ideas he entertains, whether directly with him or indirectly) at all, regardless of the nature of the dialogue, you will be poisoned, sickened, and lessened by the interaction in the same way that one would be harmed by idling near nuclear waste. I can't but think of this as divisive, regardless of behaviors we have encountered.
    I have done my best to follow this guideline, so I would be interested to hear what you call into question. Also, this is not a simple matter of gossip or idle chatter, as there are arguable distortions of the Dhamma on this page (though I do not intend to debate this here), not to mention a lot of sect bashing and negative implications against 'secular schools of buddhism. Having encountered this individual on-line on multiple occassions, I know there is in fact maliciousness behind this page. I feel that, regardless of one's stance on anatta is, people should be aware of the controversy surrounding the individual who runs this site and the translations he has put forward. Now, there is a legitimate debate surrounding these issues, but I have some serious problems with this website which I think people should be aware of that go beyond my own doctrinal biases.

    I hate to take issue with the citation of such a noble passage, but I believe you have cited the passage on the speech of a Tathagata somewhat out of context here, and in error. In fact, the passage has similarly been cited in defense of the very behaviors you are decrying! "Right Speech" as a factor of discipline intended for the student of the Tathagata (to which I am referring above, as as described in summary as refrainment from four forms of verbal misconduct) is one thing, and a description of the speech of the Tathagata quite another. The difference is clear when one inspects the context of the passage, which is a dialogue on certain qualities of the Teacher than an admonishment to disciples: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.058.than.html It may be argued that the Teacher is the example and that therefore the discourse is by implication an admonishment to disciples, but I would answer that the Teacher has already given clear guidelines for the training in the form of defining Right View (as above) for disciples as the four refrainments, and the difference is in emphasis and in aim. The qualities of the teacher express not only his nature as the Sammasambuddha, but they accomplish his aim of clear instruction with regard to the Dhamma, whereas the guidelines for Right Speech as training express conduct on the way to individual fulfillment of the holy life which is not yet accomplished. The context of Right Speech as discipline is outlined nicely in MN 117: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.117.than.html#3


    I would say it means the latter, but I do urge a little more caution than usual here, as these translations are held as questionable by some and even distortion by others. However, I did not want to get into a big Pali debate here, as I am basing my statements off of the opinion of others who are much more well versed in Pali and the problematic aspects of Ken Wheeler's translations than I. I have a definite bias towards translations by those who are monastics and are educated in the traditional manner such as Bhikkhu Bodhi and the like.

    I too would not intend this thread to become a point-by-point debate on the translation of Pali, but I would still like to point out that this highlights an issue of bias and distortion. On the one hand, Wheeler's translations are seen by many as distortion based on a bias towards "Self". On the other hand, it could be argued, (and is argued, for example, by Perez-Ramon in his book on the topic) that many contrary translations reflect an evident traditional bias towards "No Self," such as those that gloss over not (in my opinion) insignificant appearances of "self" such that in the translation the reader cannot even know that the word "attan" was employed by the Buddha in that instance. One such example (paccattamyeva parinibbayati) was discussed in the thread regarding anatta, in the following posts of mine:
    http://www.newbuddhist.com/forum/showpost.php?p=27055&postcount=165
    http://www.newbuddhist.com/forum/showpost.php?p=27269&postcount=185
    *Bhikkhu Bodhi translates the phrase as "personally attains Nibbana"--again in the English rendering, the casual reader is unaware that "attan" has made an appearance not only in close connection with Parinibbana, the aim of the holy life, but in direct contrast to teaching on its opposite, "anatta". In other words, the issue of bias is debatable and sometimes, we have to admit, it may be less a question of bias than it is one of interpretation. Obviously, I myself feel that the discourses of the Buddha as a whole suggest to me an interpretation more like that of Mr. Perez-Ramon or Mr. Wheeler (though I must say with either there are still minor or major differences of opinion). I find that to lean further to the "no-self" pole of interepretation (or, I would say, to maintain traditional bias, in the case of decidedly Theravadin translations) is to create many unnecessary difficulties, gaps and contradictions unconducive to understanding and practice. As a side note, I realize that many, when confronted with this dilemma, often take up residence comfortably in the perceived "middle," where it is believed that there is no teaching at all on self, that any reference to self whatsoever represents a false point of view--which is itself a kind of nihilism, in my opinion, a kind of "eel-wriggling". Such a position is contradicted by many instances of positive usages of "self", perhaps most notably the section of the Dhammapada compiled as verses "on self". This is somewhat distinct from the realization of what constitutes the various sakkayaditthi and the avoidance of speculation with regard to something often said to be "ineffable".

    My point is, that if you are looking to this website as a source of guidance in Buddhism or as representative of the core Buddhist teachings, then I would urge a very rigorous approach here in order to see which points conflict which other reputable translations & and put them aside until you can see why ther is discrepency & and can make an adequately informed decision as to which one is more in-line with the practice & goal of Buddhism.

    Well said, though there is a slight highlight on the issue of bias again. In other words, translations become "reputable" in the sangha mainly by maintaining the interpretation of the sect that one belongs to. Those that contradict are thus "disreputable". Here we sometimes encounter the occasional conflict between "outside" scholarship and the traditional work of Bhikkhus whose translations would not be accepted if not fairly traditional.

    For us practicioners who are not scholars, we really must work heavily with our own intuition, and work with the meaning that comes out from "listening" attentively to as much of the Buddha's discourses as we can, free, as is suggested by the often-quote Kalamas sutta, from the prejudgement of tradition whenever possible (the maintenance of the discourses themselves represents tradition--we cannot be tempted to throw out the baby with the bathwater). The possibility of an unfamiliar interpretation is for us less a matter of scholastic interest but an opportunity for unfolding understanding and enrichment of actual practice.



    in friendliness,
    V.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited July 2006
    Everyone,

    Please be forewarned that this is merely my personal opinion, and not neccessarily those of this site: If you truly want to know what "presecular" Buddhism might have looked like, then I would suggest that you compare the Pali Nikayas, the Chinese Agamas, and their English equivalents. By comparing everything that they have in common, you will get the clearest picture of what "presecular" Buddhism might have looked like. It is my opinion, as well as that of many scholars and monastics alike, that what these ancient texts have in common predates the various schisms which took place not long after the Buddha's death. By comparing the Pali, Chinese, and English translations, you will have the best possible resources in which to derive the true meaning of what the Buddha was trying to teach.

    Sincerely,

    Jason
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited July 2006
    Vach,
    You have made some good points, and I will reflect on them further. I will say the following as a response though:

    While I get what you are saying about 'tale-bearing', I would like to clarify that the intent here is to give words of caution to those who might interact with this individual, as personal behavior does bear some serious weight in deciding who to listen to as a teacher of Dhamma. For newbies, I think it is important to know the controversy here and that they understand that his translations & interpretations have been called into question on valid basis. This individual presents himself as an expert in Pali, and can run circles around most of the people who encounter him on Yahoo.chat. As he regularly belittles those who oppose his view and calls them idiot's & demons, not knowing any better, people may believe him. I have personally found encounters with him to be highly disturbing. It was not until I heard the information that I have been stating in this thread that things started to become clear. My intention is to pass along fair warning to those who might encounter him and be affected similarly.

    Now, regardless of whether these are true statements, I may still have been doing what you deem as 'tale-bearing.' To that I am not sure what to say or do. It is quite a dilemma, as I consider this to be important information for people to know. Going in blind to an encounter with AncientBuddhism can be a disturbing experience. The intent here is to help individuals who are trying to learn Dhamma, not to defame him, though my statements may be taken that way. And as intent is paramount in our practice, I consider my intentions to be the most important thing here. I would also like to point out that while individuals such as AncientBuddhism may use the Right Speech passage in their own defense, their speech and actions arguably go well beyond good-intentions and there are many gross violations of Right Speech on their part as well. My main intent in my posts on this thread was to inform people that there are these issues surround the individual who runs www.attan.com, and that they should be aware that some of these issues are very serious before taking them as true or authoritative.

    Anyway, I am working on my inner source of disturbance surrounding this, not just the outer one. Ultimately, I should be able to bear any of this in stride without disturbance. However, that is not currently the case, and I still feel that some fair warning is due.

    _/\_
    metta
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited July 2006
    BTW, there is an interesting discussion going on over at E-Sangha on Right Speech.

    http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index.php?showtopic=32694&st=0

    _/\_
    metta
  • edited July 2006
    Jason,

    I appreciate your post and I think you make a great point.

    in friendliness,
    V.
  • edited July 2006
    Not1Not2,

    I can sympathize well with your position and I am sure that your intentions are from a wish for harmlessness.

    in friendliness,
    V.
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited July 2006
    :)

    _/\_
    metta
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited July 2006
    I don't know why there is a debate over this website to begin with.

    Here are some passages from the attan.com website on page 2:

    What is "Gook Buddhism”?
    Gook, or slope Buddhism, i.e. Theravada (called Hinayana by the Mahayanists) is found mostly in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Burma, somewhat so in India), half-breed ancestors to Chinese and Pacific-rim Polynesian mix offspring "Chink-anise". Gook Buddhism is typified by its adherence to a late secular work of many versions known as the Abhidhamma and the materialistic commentary of Buddhaghosa. Gook Buddhists are Self denying materialists with a fond pension for petty appearances of external morality and zombie like behavior. The primary belief, in their personal Abhidhamma, is that life is purely unreal, filled with suffering and escape from the horrific cycle of samsara is a type of moralisitic pietism which when perfected culminates in a spiritual absolute-zero stasis wherein one entirely peters out at death like a campfire being pissed out with a resulting ‘sizzle’ sound of frying bacon, poof, then nothingness. Gook Buddhism’s primary principle is that there is absolutely no Soul whatsoever, but there is suffering and its root, being avijja (ignorance), but not that which is ignorant (of its true divinity). Humanism and epistemological purification is advocated by Gook Buddhism wherein the senses are kept in check and "wisdom’s" highest proclamation being a Self-negation paradox wherein both object and the Subjective Witness himself are utterly denied as wholly unreal atomic constructs, or an erected façade akin to a self-animating puppet sans the puppeteer. Philosophical conclusion of Gook Buddhism in a nutshell?: Ten parts Materialism with five parts superficial petty secular humanistism.Closest Western parallel to Gook Buddhism?: moralistic anti-foundational Atheists who scoff at the mere notion of a Soul.
    Jap Buddhism's motto: "I wear robes, sniff incense, and sit on a cushion like a dead corpse, no-way is Buddha-way, no-mind is enlightenment.
    What is "Jap Buddhism”?
    Jap, or yellow-slant-eyed rice-sucker Buddhism is mostly one of two varieties of revamped Chinese Chan.
    A Hybrid of Taoism, Confucianism, Naturism, Jap-paganism, Shinto, and convoluted Chinese Chan; Jap Zen is a radical farce of hierarchical figureheads who presume authority to teach Buddhism due to a long line of successorship teachers each confirming another and another all the way back to the historical Buddha himself (which is a doctrinal farce). Akin to a spiritual corporate cut-throat hierarchy, Jap Zen/Buddhism is caught up entirely in external and bodily formalities such as robes, bowing, and snorting Sandalwood incense while seated on a zafu cushion for countless numbers of hours in attempt to self-lobotomize themselves and simultaneously come to the delusion they are enlightened into the ‘Voidness’ of mind, which was the mark of supremacy. Philosophical conclusion of Jap Zen Buddhism?: existential Humanism devoid of any remnant even resembling original Buddhism as portrayed in its Suttas. Closest Western parallel to Jap Buddhism?: European Satanism /Paganism where petty rituals and chants are occasioned by fancy robes which revolve around some form of cultish egotistical megalomaniac figurehead whom others pay reverence towards like brainless lemmings.
    Mongrel Buddhism's motto: "I eschew the vomit of the Dalai Lama and his henchmen, I don't think for myself, for I have others to do it for me."
    What is "Tibetan (Vajrayana, i.e. Lamanism) Buddhism”?
    Tibetan Buddhism, Mongoloid half-breed ancestors to Russian and Chinese mix offspring, also known as Chinko-Bon is often known as Lamanism, or “Asian Catholicism”. This perverse dogma, of many flavors, is a hybrid faith of native polytheistic Tibetan Bon and late Chinese annihilationist Mahayana. What typifies Lamanism (quasi-chink Buddhism)?:
    Copious amounts of spiritual materialism in addition to reading secular non-Buddhist works of counter-doctrinal relevance penned by Lamas, Rimpoches, and other pontificators (Nagarjuna) who have attempted to interpret 7000 years of Indian ontological and metaphysical thought without themselves having read Vedantic materials. Many occult like fetish rituals typify Lamanism and its many splinter groups enjoin hurling warnings of “million-year Hell” scare tactics at those not in parallel to their radical cultist groupies. Its famous: "Bodhisattva-save-all-sentient-beings and be reborn until all are saved" dogma is wholly foreign to original Indian Buddhism and one of the many reasons why the core of this dogma is an evil religion and contrary to the single-minded goal, the escape from samsara by progression in wisdom's unfolding. Philosophical conclusion of Tibetan Buddhism?: Fire and damnation holy rollers and a perverse Eastern version of Catholicism with the Pope replaced by a smiling Neolithic mentality quasi-chink, the Dalai Lama; himself an ignorant fool proclaiming to be the spokesperson for Sutra, as if Sutra needed any intermediary puppet for its comprehension and interpretation. Closest Western parallel to Tibetan Buddhists?: Catholics who adorn their homes with petty fetish iconoclasm, are told to perform futile and useless external rituals, and think the Pope to be God's personal bitch who in turn tells the ignorant masses what to think and believe.

    We're debating the validity of THIS?
  • edited July 2006
    You have bolded the inflammatory words and thereby successfully mistaken the chaff for the grain.
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited July 2006
    What???
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited July 2006
    Those quotations are not only deeply objectionable but, even worse, they are execrably written, Brigid, aren't they!


  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited July 2006
    Yes, they certainly are. I have no time to spend on anything else written by this person. Those passages speak very clearly for themselves.
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited July 2006
    You have bolded the inflammatory words and thereby successfully mistaken the chaff for the grain.

    Honestly, why is that the comment you chose to make???

    You chastise my comments for being 'tale-bearing' and then just excuse these statements as being the chaff to the wheat. Sorry, but I'm a little confused. These two treatments seem inconsistnent. Can you explain, please??

    What about the article "Bhikkhu Bodhi, Mara's Right-hand Materialistic whore"?
    Bhikkhu Bodhi, Mara’s right-hand whore

    Herein Bhikkhu Bodhi glosses SN 3.195 and covers up Maradhamma with “subject to Mara”, therein translating DHAMMA as “subject to” to gloss over the fact that the sutta states succinctly that the 5 aggregates are mara, are the dharma of mara (the evil one). Bhikkhu Bodhi glosses this word because of its implication and sutta and attempts pathetically to forgive himself in the footnote in the back without reason saying ::: Bhikkhu Bodhi’s footnote to Sn 3.195. #248 footnote “In the suttas that follow I translate the suffix –dhamma as “nature” rather than “subject to”

    Even FL Woodward translates this word (maradhamma) correctly and unglossed as “of the nature of Mara”


    Bhikkhu Bodhi SN 3.195 translating Maradhamma as “subject to Mara”
    Bhikkhu Bodhi’s footnote to Sn 3.195. #248 footnote “In the suttas that follow I translate the suffix –dhamma as “nature” rather than “subject to”


    F.L. Woodward SN 3.195 translating Maradhamma as “of the nature of Mara”

    HOWEVER THE COMMENTARY TO THIS SUTTA (WELL KNOWN TO BHIKKHU BODHI) SUCCINCTLY STATES: ma’radhammoti maran.adhammo “MARA’S DHARMA MEANS DHARMAS OF DEATH”
    Khandhavagga-at.t.hakatha’ 2.336 Dutiyavaggassa pat.hame ma’ro, ma’roti maran.am. pucchati. yasma’ pana ru’pa’divinimuttam. maran.am. na’ma natthi, tenassa bhagava’ ru’pam. kho, ra’dha, ma’roti-a’dima’ha. dutiye ma’radhammoti maran.adhammo. etenupa’yena sabbattha attho veditabboti.


    ACTUAL TRANSLATION:
    SN 3.195 At one time in Savatthi, the venerable Radha seated himself and asked of the Blessed Lord "Mara’s dharma, Mara’s dharma I hear said venerable. What pray tell does Mara’s dharma mean?"
    "Just this, form, Radha is Mara’s dharma, sensations are Mara’s dharma, perceptions are Mara’s dharma, assemblages are Mara’s dharma, sentience is Mara’s dharma. Seeing thusly…this is the end of birth, the Brahma-life has been fulfilled, what must be done has been done, he discerns there is nothing further than this very Soul."

    SN 3.195 2. Ma’radhammasuttam.
    Sa’vatthinida’nam.. ekamantam. nisinno kho a’yasma’ ra’dho bhagavantam. etadavoca– “‘ma’radhammo, ma’radhammo’ti, bhante, vuccati. katamo nu kho, bhante, ma’radhammo”ti? “ru’pam. kho, ra’dha, ma’radhammo, vedana’ma’radhammo, sañña’ma’radhammo, sankha’ra’ma’radhammo, viñña’n.am. ma’radhammo. evam. passam. …pe… na’param. itthatta’ya’ti paja’na’ti’”ti. dutiyam.

    Presuming the intention of Bhikkhu Bodhi is questionable in the first place. Secondly, calling him a materialistic whore of Mara is harsh speech and poorly founded. Thirdly, the difference between Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation and the Author's preferred translation is arguably insignificant. In other words, he seems to be creating an important contradiction, where there is not a contradiction.

    Additionally, in the final quote, I don't see where he found the statement 'this very Soul' in the Pali. Did I just miss it??

    _/\_
    metta
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited July 2006
    You have bolded the inflammatory words and thereby successfully mistaken the chaff for the grain.

    Nobody is even discussing the factual arguments made, so it is incorrect to say we have mistaken the chaff for the grain. And even the non-bolded words are inflammatory in many regards. Perhaps this grain is spoiled.

    And I think that you are missing the point that this particular chaff should not be there AT ALL, regardless of whether or not there is any grain to be found. It indicates that the individual here isn't really even a Buddhist practitioner, as this is a blatant disregard for the Eightfold Path, which is the crux of Buddhism (along with the first 3 Noble Truths), regardless of how one regards Atta. Seriously, this is a major indictment to this person's credibility as a Buddhist translator, on top of the fact that many of his translations are questioned by modern Pali scholars (and disregarded by some of them).

    Furthermore, this is racist language (which is ignorant and divisive) and tends to corroborate the accusations I have heard that he is, in fact, a racist. More importantly, this does not belong in the vocabulary of a realized being or a sincere practitioner of the 8-fold Path.

    _/\_
    metta
  • edited July 2006
    not1not2 wrote:
    Nobody is even discussing the factual arguments made, so it is incorrect to say we have mistaken the chaff for the grain. And even the non-bolded words are inflammatory in many regards. Perhaps this grain is spoiled.

    And I think that you are missing the point that this particular chaff should not be there AT ALL, regardless of whether or not there is any grain to be found. It indicates that the individual here isn't really even a Buddhist practitioner, as this is a blatant disregard for the Eightfold Path, which is the crux of Buddhism (along with the first 3 Noble Truths), regardless of how one regards Atta. Seriously, this is a major indictment to this person's credibility as a Buddhist translator, on top of the fact that many of his translations are questioned by modern Pali scholars (and disregarded by some of them).

    Furthermore, this is racist language (which is ignorant and divisive) and tends to corroborate the accusations I have heard that he is, in fact, a racist. More importantly, this does not belong in the vocabulary of a realized being or a sincere practitioner of the 8-fold Path.

    _/\_
    metta

    I don't want to be misunderstood in this. If I must say so, if it isn't obvious, the inflammatory language there is in fact offensive and doesn't seem to me to serve any instructive purpose short of offending people. There is no getting around that. It is divisive. It's unacceptable on its face, and it cannot, itself represent Samma Vaca. However, if you compare your own case to this, there is a difference and the difference is simple: I am talking to you as a Buddhist friend instead of talking about you to others. I'm trying to maintain a basic line between talking about others and talking to others. If I have not done so wisely or have been hypocritical, I must shamefully apologize. If you must know, I have, in the past, discussed this issue with this individual on a couple of occasions, especially in reference to the Ambattha Sutta which exemplifies the Buddha's repudiation of the idea that race/lineage has any significance to the holy life whatsoever. I do not feel it is my place to relate his views on racism, since he must speak for himself if he wishes to do so. Needless to say I would never suggest that Theravada is "gook Buddhism" which to many seems to imply that they got it wrong based on the fact that they don't share the same race as the Buddha. So I hope you do not feel that you were being criticized while I was apparently justifying some much more serious offense, because that was not my intention. I don't justify any of the racist language, and especially not a racist view of the Buddhasasana, if in fact that is the view. For anyone who simply cannot stomach such strong language, which is pretty much understandable, I would rather recommend the following site: http://www.fundamentalbuddhism.com

    It seemed to be Brigid's point, and you seem to agree, that since this language appears on the site, that all of what may be found on that domain is garbage and not worth considering. I would argue that sometimes you have to be able to separate out what is not needed, taking what one finds of value and leaving the rest. I am of the belief that no expression of the Dhamma short of that of a Sammasambuddha is going to be complete. I would like to see if I can speak to some of the other concerns regarding translation in another post.

    in friendliness,
    V.
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited July 2006
    If such literature were posted here, in the guise of official Buddhist teachings, i would have no hesitation in taking the appropriate action. And I have little doubt most people here would disagree with me.
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited July 2006
    BTW, in case you are going to jump on the 'isn't really even a Buddhist practitioner' thing, perhaps I went too far, and I guess I will retract that statement. However, as he has told me that Plotinus was better at teaching what the Buddha taught and has always been evasive to my questions on whether he practices, then I do question what investment he actually has in the buddhist path.

    _/\_
    metta
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited July 2006
    The thing is, this is not merely a discussion of what Average Joe does on a Saturday night. This is a page which claims to teach the 'Original' and 'True' Buddhist doctrine. It is full of syncretism, sect smearing and the author has questionable translations skills. I do think the character of this person reflects the sincerity and character of the individual, which arguably affects his intepretation of certain buddhist elements. For example, on the issue of Right (Samma) View it is clear that this person is drawing distinctions which do not fall in line with Right View. And his speech and actions do not fall in line with Right Speech/Action. While this is not a valid basis for negating all his arguments, it is relevent to those who are sincerely seeking guidance. It may not be a proper rebuttal I think these sort of actions indicate that the person is not thinking clearly. In that sense, it means we cannot necessarily trust his interpretations. In other words, further investigation is warranted. In the Tibetan tradition, one of the qualifications for taking a person as a teacher is their moral conduct and whether their behaviors fall in line with proper Buddhist conduct. As this is arguably not so in the case of Ken Wheeler, then I do think this is a relevant discussion, though it is borderline wrong speech.

    Also, I would like to make clear that, I am not judging him as a person, but as a self-proclaimed Buddhist expert, translator & teacher. If Ken Wheeler were just a co-worker or an associate, I would not care one way or the other, certainly not enough to go talking about him like this.

    _/\_
    metta
  • edited July 2006
    not1not2 wrote:
    Honestly, why is that the comment you chose to make???

    You chastise my comments for being 'tale-bearing' and then just excuse these statements as being the chaff to the wheat. Sorry, but I'm a little confused. These two treatments seem inconsistnent. Can you explain, please??

    What about the article "Bhikkhu Bodhi, Mara's Right-hand Materialistic whore"?



    Presuming the intention of Bhikkhu Bodhi is questionable in the first place. Secondly, calling him a materialistic whore of Mara is harsh speech and poorly founded. Thirdly, the difference between Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation and the Author's preferred translation is arguably insignificant. In other words, he seems to be creating an important contradiction, where there is not a contradiction.

    Additionally, in the final quote, I don't see where he found the statement 'this very Soul' in the Pali. Did I just miss it??

    _/\_
    metta


    As to Bhikkhu Bodhi, I have no basis to make personal comments as have been cited, but I share a critical view of some translations which make important glosses. I would fairly well agree with you that whether we speak of the khandhas as subject to Mara (this does, however, imply separability and non-identity as opposed to Wheeler and Woodward's favored translation) or of as mara's nature or something similar (is it even possible to merely say "things of mara?" or even, to emphasize the cited commentary "pernicious things") it is still a fairly strong statement against the reliability and security of the khandhas so the tenor at least if not the precise meaning is still communicated.

    With regard to the appearance of "this very Soul" (this very atta) in the Pali, the word being thus translated is "itthatta'ya'ti" (ittha: thus + atta: self, compare to itibhava) which Bodhi translates as "this state of being." Perhaps it would be argued that "this state of being" is an appropriate translation of itibhava but not of itthatta, which is thought even in the PTS dictionary which renders it still as "in this earthly life" to be comparable to arahatta, which describes one who is no longer subject to the three marks. In this case the denotative meaning varies greatly between translations, but in each it is possible to see a kernel that is roughly the same: fulfilment.
  • edited July 2006
    I would not recommend Ken Wheeler as a personal teacher to anyone, but I still recommend his site and his articles, and even a chat with him (so long as you are thick-skinned) as a resource to anyone who might take something of value from them. Perhaps I am too much of an individualist. This reminds me somewhat of the serious concerns and debates surrounding the late venerable Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and his alleged behaviors (and that of the so-called "Crazy Wisdom" tradition.)

    in friendliness,
    V.
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited July 2006
    What? You're equating Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche with Ken Wheeler? You might want to rethink that one, Vacch. You're very seriously out of line.

    Since we can all agree on at least one teacher, the Buddha himself, what do you think he'd say about the passages I quoted from attan.com and their usefulness to a Buddhist student?
  • edited July 2006
    Chogyam Trungpa is considered by many to be a well-established icon in western Buddhadharma, a pioneer in bringing genuine teachings to our land, and an author of several excellent books. I'm not comparing him directly to Ken Wheeler.

    Having said those respectful statements, I will not choose to relate specific allegations that have been made against Rinpoche, because that is improper speech. I am simply reminded of the controversy. The issue is how the conduct/morality of the teacher may tarnish the quality of the message he is trying to relate.

    Another thing I am reminded of is the current conflict in Sri Lanka between militant Tamils and Sinhalas. The Sinhalatva movement is a decidedly racist movement that is making efforts to cast Lankan Buddhism in their own light. This, of course, does nothing to condemn that which they are appropriating to this end, namely the teaching of the Buddha.

    in friendliness,
    V.
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