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People come here with very little ideas of what Buddhism is, and are often regarding this website as some kind of authority in the subject.
I believe that many are mislead into thinking all kind of random things by other people who have no, or very little idea what they are talking about.
There are some good advices but very often they are often buried under piles of nonsense.
The problem with this is that people are looking for solution to their problems, sometimes real problems and they could actually possibly change their lives for the better, putting behind them years of misery and opening up a whole new beautiful chapter of their lives.
But what happen when someone get misled may very well mean that this person will greatly delay or even put aside Buddhism forever and doing so abandon virtually all hope of finding peace and love in their lives.
Which is obviously a terrible prospect and the direct opposite of what anyone would wish to happen in here.
I believe this got worse lately, somehow this website had a pretty good balance of more advanced members in the past but now the balance have shifted.
I see people left and right asking questions about the most basic teachings of Buddhism in one thread, and going into another to advice someone on very important subjects.
My suggestion would be to change the forum categories to add categories such as "what is Buddhism", Buddhist philosophy compared to other philosophies, or simply re-direct most of the "Buddhist for beginners" subjects into the "general banter" subject because most of the threads in the beginner section are not related to Buddhism at all.
I'd like to get the opinion of other more advance members on this if you would like to share.
ps: The website have grown, and became a strange creature where people do not come to learn but to speculate enormously with very little understanding of Buddhism and Buddhism practice while giving advices that have nothing to do with Buddhism.
What I think you want is for a member to have a title bestowed upon them 'advanced practitioner' and only these people can post in certain areas. That isn't ever going to happen. And you are never ever going to control who posts what.
Your concern that people give bad advice is very real. I don't agree that it is a problem for people of varying experiences to post their opinion. I feel they should always state it as their opinion, in their reading, according to their teacher, in their experience. Rather than present it as truth.
Some of the responsibility for giving bad advice is fully on those asking it. This is not a therapy or counseling facility and expecting good advice from 100% of the members is even MORE unreasonable than expecting a professional therapist give good advice. The first professional therapist I had suggested my friend hit golf balls or go to the beach in response to her serious depression. Even some therapists give bad advice much less a forum. Some of the responsibility or perhaps causality and common sense rests squarely on the shoulders of those asking to take everything with a grain of salt and make up their own minds.
I’m not. I only started practice as recently as 1990 and my understanding of Buddhism is minimal.
I just hope that when you talk about “people with little understanding of Buddhism and Buddhism practice” you are not confusing them with people who have a different understanding.
I'm sure most members would be very flattered that you dismiss them amateur.
Care to give an example of what you consider to be'advanced'?
Because we don't discriminate here. This isn't some club for the elite....
"I see people left and right asking questions about the most basic teachings of Buddhism in one thread, and going into another to advice someone on very important subjects."
Yes, that's right. it's an internet forum. That's what it's here for.
For like-minded people of all shapes, sizes, types, genders and persuasions, to share their opinions, views and experiences.
it's not a university.....
"My suggestion would be to change the forum categories to add categories such as "what is Buddhism", Buddhist philosophy compared to other philosophies, or simply re-direct most of the "Buddhist for beginners" subjects into the "general banter" subject because most of the threads in the beginner section are not related to Buddhism at all."
I must admit, this is one of my personal little rants. I do wish people would consider which forum they want their thread to appear in, because the automatic default seems to be the beginner's forum. So I see where you're coming from, on this one....
"I'd like to get the opinion of other more advance members on this if you would like to share."
Name one......other than your self, of course......
But there isn't any particular spiritual master or any particular method of teaching here. It does not serve as a surrogate for finding a spiritual friend to guide you or to decide for yourself what the helpful traditions and teachings are.
Therefore the concern that the buddha's message be diluted does not apply to this website, because it is not a primary source of the buddha's message but rather a marketplace to exchange ideas. There are no core values to this site defining what buddhism is and is not. There are only core values on norms of behaviour which includes putting things in appropriate topics for organization.
Its an open forum to discuss buddhism and any advices are not professional therapies or authentic teachings of a spiritual master. The best we have are our personal experiences, quotations, and so forth.
There's also always a possibility that if the forum balance starts leaning towards one particular tradition, then those who think they're 'advanced' from that tradition start dominating and dismissing everything else and 'ganging up' on people. I've seen that happen in other places in the past.
Open exchange and sharing different views is best...as well as remembering that all we have is the written word - which sometimes isn't always adequate to express the inexpressible.
I know chickens have nothing to do with Buddhism, but my point is this: I see all kinds of answers to posted questions. There are many members that have been raising chickens for a long time and are very knowledgeable and then there are newbies who have barely started owning chickens, and some don't even have chickens yet and are just looking for info.
It's the posters' discretion to determine if advice sounds right to them or not. I've seen good advice and I've seen ridiculous advice. It's a message board/forum, it's free for people to share opinions and opinions and expertise will vary. As was said in the above replies, who is to really know an "advanced practitioner" from another?
Also, you mentioned some people asking very basic beginner questions and then posting somewhere else advice to others. I guess I would be one of those people. There are some basic concepts that I am still learning, but then there are questions that I feel confident giving my opinion on. So what? I think everyone knows a little in some regards, and have more knowledge in other areas. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.
Your very complaint is not very Buddhist-minded, in my opinion. When I go to a Sangha meeting, they don't seat the newcomers in one section and the advanced practitioners in a special section. Everyone is considered welcome and included.
I'm kind of offended that you seem somewhat "snobbish" about who's an advanced practitioner and who's a beginner and how they should be separated. Plus, there are so many levels of knowledge between 'beginner' and 'advanced'. Isn't this an open forum on Buddhism in general for ALL to ask, share and express? There have been times when I have posted, and some of the answers don't sound like good advice, while others make more sense to me. That's what message boards are, different people expressing different views.
Experienced mediators were more or less separated from the beginners so the beginners (who maybe were unable to sit very quietly) wouldn’t disturb the depth of their realizations, ha-ha!
Also at some occasion when there was an important teacher in the house, the people in robes got to sit in front.
But I don’t know the exact reason for it. Maybe the teacher spoke with moist, and the people in robes where there for our protection.
"All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others".....
And yes, some traditions do have special guests or ordained sitting in the front.
I guess using Sanghas was a bad example, but you know what I mean. This is a public forum message board. No one here knows who is "advanced" and who isn't, it's impossible to know that. To start picking who isn't "advanced" enough to post in certain sections is absurd.
The OP said they see people ask basic beginner questions and then give advice on important topics. I still say "so what". Everyone has the right to give and receive opinions here, even beginners.
And Jeffrey, we don't need to wiki it silly, we know what you are referring to. Well at least I KNOW what you mean, maybe that makes me more advanced!
Maybe we could ask for the popular opinion, maybe good ideas will present themselves.
a similar one bearing the legend:
(Front) 'I am a virgin.'
(Back) 'PS: This is a very old t-shirt.'
I take issue with the idea that ALL answers should be based in Buddhism. Sometimes the best thing is to refer someone to a qualified medical or mental health professional. There have been a couple such "emergency" cases on this forum that I could cite. Compassion, I think, would require that we do our best to suggest the most appropriate remedy, and not be bound by "spiritual correctness".
Only then, will you have the right to criticise his efforts while communicating in English.
There are only 5 minutes for you to edit your own post, however.
I am probably considered to be an expert in my profession and its sometimes frustrating when others purport to being experts but they are clearly not.
The source of my frustration is,however, my own ego as the intention of others is usually good.
I can continue to try and influence......but I cannot control others.
The same goes for this forum. Many don't know much of Buddha's teachings, me included but most of us have good intention and life experience that can benefit others.
In my experience, the more expert some buddhists become, the more their language becomes complex and less accessible to us beginners. Imo experience does not always equate to the distance on the path to enlightenment travelled.
Ok, I still see the Edit Icon/function button, because as a Mod, I have to be able to edit people's posts at times....
Maybe you don't see it....
But as to the time-frame, Lincoln put it down to 5 minutes because really, people could go back and alter virtually the entire direction of a thread, even a day after posting.
However, you'd still have to ask him about the time-frame.
Ok, I figure that's sufficient off-topic discussion.
Before this quickly became a "shoot the messenger" rant fest, (which was almost immediately;)
and beside the wild speculations about weather or not i was an elitist and what my hidden motives were, I think I've raised some important points that have not really been discussed.
not that the speculations about me were not interesting
Again, i believe that adding even only a few categories like "Buddhist philosophy compared to others" could help a great deal to help sort out the discussions.
Perhaps even adding 3 forums about the 3 trainings would help to indirectly re-focus the forum to an environment where people would tend to speculate less and learn more without even doing anything else (like extra moderating).
(a forum about Morality, another one about concentration, and one about insight)
Just suggesting a discussion about something that i see as a situation that could possibly be improved if we all put our beautiful minds together; nothing more.
PS: I had the same idea as most of you had about the "advanced members" tag, so this is why i did not suggest this as a solution.