Difficult Points In Buddhism

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby alexbunardzic » Tue Nov 15, 2011 11:50 pm

Hello there,

I have just published a book on "Difficult Points In Buddhism" in which I discuss the Buddhist practice from the Early Buddhism perspective. Would like to hear what other esteemed members think about the line of reasoning presented in this book.

Thanks,

Alex
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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Nov 15, 2011 11:56 pm

Greetings Alex,

Do you wish to give us a summary of the reasoning presented in your book?

It's not really fair to expect people to pay for a copy of your text in order to provide you feedback on it.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby manas » Tue Nov 15, 2011 11:59 pm

Hi alex,

I followed that link, but could find no way to read even an excerpt from the book in question, is there some easy way to do this, or to access the whole?

with metta,
manas.
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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby alexbunardzic » Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:25 pm

manasikara wrote:Hi alex,

I followed that link, but could find no way to read even an excerpt from the book in question, is there some easy way to do this, or to access the whole?

with metta,
manas.


Hi Manas,

On that page there is a box to the right where it says "Try it free". You can get a sneak preview if you click on that link and supply your email address. Please let me know if you'd need more detailed instructions.

Also, you don't have to own a Kindle in order to read the samples. There are free Kindle readers for pretty much any platform; these free apps can be downloaded from the Amazon Kindle site.

Thanks,

Alex
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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby alexbunardzic » Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:31 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Alex,

Do you wish to give us a summary of the reasoning presented in your book?

It's not really fair to expect people to pay for a copy of your text in order to provide you feedback on it.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hi Retro,

Yes, I agree with you. The thing that bothers me is that there is no way to offer my book as a gift, or as a free sample for others to review. Even I, as the author, am expected to pay for my own book (sic!)

Here is the quick, off the cuff summary of my book:

Buddhism is a spectacular teaching that could be compared to a magnificent sunset. When enjoying such sunset, we would be annoyed if someone attempted to embellish it for us by organizing a huge display of fireworks that would only cloud the spectacular sunset.

In the same fashion, any attempt to embellish the Buddha's original teaching is equally annoying. There is absolutely no need to try and improve on the Buddha's original teaching (i.e. the Early Buddhism) by introducing foreign and fabricated concepts such as Buddha Nature and such.

Cheers,

Alex
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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby alan » Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:17 am

No one would ever accuse me of not enjoying sunsets. I'm the king of sunsets.
But equating the Dhamma with a sunset seems likely to fail as a teaching technique.
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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:28 am

Greetings Alex,

alexbunardzic wrote:Here is the quick, off the cuff summary of my book:

Buddhism is a spectacular teaching that could be compared to a magnificent sunset. When enjoying such sunset, we would be annoyed if someone attempted to embellish it for us by organizing a huge display of fireworks that would only cloud the spectacular sunset.

In the same fashion, any attempt to embellish the Buddha's original teaching is equally annoying. There is absolutely no need to try and improve on the Buddha's original teaching (i.e. the Early Buddhism) by introducing foreign and fabricated concepts such as Buddha Nature and such.

I can sympathise with that perspective - my preference for Buddhavacana is well known around these parts. :lol:

But why a whole book (which of course, is not Buddhavacana) dedicated to this topic? Pointing to a few choice extracts from the Maraparinibbana Sutta, Ani Sutta, Simsapa Sutta etc. should be sufficient to make this point. But if people do not buy into the argument made through the concatenation of such extracts, what then? It is good to be able to explain one's own reasons behind one's own perspective, but what if others prefer fireworks over sunset? There is no totally objective way to demonstrate that one is superior to the other. If it were that simple there would be no sects in Buddhism at all.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby alan » Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:47 am

Sunsets and fireworks are both odd ways of describing the teachings. Don't see how either is relevant.
But if you are asking, I'll take a good quiet sunset over noisy, loud, smokey fireworks every time.
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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:03 am

So, far there really nothing much said here. I'd like to see something of actual substance from this book, dince it author is here. I'm sure he'd be happy to share something.

The thing that bothers me is that there is no way to offer my book as a gift
Easily done. Turn it into a PDF.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby manas » Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:33 am

Hi alex,
I think that if you were to 'copy and paste' some significant portions of the book here, you would find a sympathetic audience. If you are into original, unembellished Buddhism, then great, most people here are too, just give a more detailed, larger sample maybe?
with metta,
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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby James the Giant » Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:51 am

alexbunardzic wrote:The thing that bothers me is that there is no way to offer my book as a gift, or as a free sample for others to review. Even I, as the author, am expected to pay for my own book

You know there are lots and lots of places on the internet where you can freely host books? Or indeed any kind of file, be they mobi or epub or pdf of txt or doc or whatever.
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saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby Nyana » Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:45 am

manasikara wrote:I followed that link....

Where's the link?
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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby Ben » Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:52 am

Greetings Geoff,
An administrative decision was made early on to remove the link on suspicion of the member being a spammer, as the member suggests that we should purchase his book to provide him with feedback.
An examination of the e-book's page on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Difficult-Points- ... 610&sr=1-1
reveals very little information regarding the work.
kind regards,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby Nyana » Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:05 pm

Ben wrote:An administrative decision was made early on to remove the link on suspicion of the member being a spammer, as the member suggests that we should purchase his book to provide him with feedback.

Ah, thanks Ben.

I already did a bit of a search. The following excerpt from this Interview with Alex Bunardzic leads me to think that the author doesn't really know much about the subject matter he is trying to criticize (emphasis added).

    My book is about certain difficult points in Buddhism. There appears to be a fairly large body of confusion about what is Buddhism, what is the fundamental Buddhist teaching and practice, and how can Buddhism fit into our daily lives. Upon closer inspection of the contemporary Buddhist literature available on the market today, it turns out that many of the books dealing with the topic are actually not discussing Buddhism at all. They’re mostly Brahmanism, Taoism, or other Absolutist religions disguised as Buddhism.

I have a library of 100s of books and have had access to a Buddhist monastic library containing almost every significant book and translation published in English on the subject of Buddhism over the past 50 years, and I have seen very little evidence of books being published where "Brahmanism, Taoism, or other Absolutist religions [are being] disguised as Buddhism."
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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby Ben » Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:13 pm

Indeed!
And what I have seen of alexbunardzic from here:
viewtopic.php?f=29&t=10218&p=159778&hilit=alexbunardzic#p159767

and

alexbunardzic wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
alexbunardzic wrote:
The seeds of the Mahayana movement were apparently planted by the Buddha himself, who had repeatedly refused to provide definitive answers to the two most burning questions that people were constantly asking him:

1. Who is the Buddha's chosen heir (i.e. who will get appointed by the Buddha as a rightful successor to continue the teaching after the Buddha's death)?
2. What happens to the Buddha/Tathagata after he dies?
To clarify: When I asked for your source, I was asking for your source for your claim that this is what drove the formation of the Mahayana.


Ah, gotcha! My source is some Gypsy woman (at least she looked like she could be Gypsy, but my sources on that are shaky, so let's just leave it at that for now). I ran into her many moons ago at a country fair and she ended up reading my palm (for a nominal fee, of course).


does not fill me with any desire whatsoever to purchase his "book".
kind regards,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby SeekingDharma » Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:25 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:I already did a bit of a search. The following excerpt from this Interview with Alex Bunardzic leads me to think that the author doesn't really know much about the subject matter he is trying to criticize (emphasis added).

    My book is about certain difficult points in Buddhism. There appears to be a fairly large body of confusion about what is Buddhism, what is the fundamental Buddhist teaching and practice, and how can Buddhism fit into our daily lives. Upon closer inspection of the contemporary Buddhist literature available on the market today, it turns out that many of the books dealing with the topic are actually not discussing Buddhism at all. They’re mostly Brahmanism, Taoism, or other Absolutist religions disguised as Buddhism.



I hate to make an improper assumption, but it would appear to me that this book is largely a critique of current/popular Buddhist literature. Alex, would you mind clarifying? If that is the case, would you mind speaking to which bodies of work you are basing your research on? Surely the view on Brahmanism/Taoism/Absolutist religions can't be derived from the Tipitika itself. Correct?

Further in the interview it is stated, "...because I wrote and published the book in order to possibly make some money..." I think it's clear this post is a "get the word out" opportunity--you probably will not find a tremendous amount of people to purchase the book through this avenue, but if you're interested in discussing your views and advocating your position I think you'd be pleasantly surprised and properly engaged here. I am truly interested in hearing your views on this matter, if only you'd define what you believe these points to be. An educated alternative view may behold a learning opportunity for all of us, but documented facts would be necessary to get us there.
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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:30 pm

The Kindle sample is the introductory stuff, which really does not give much in terms of actual content as to what is being actually criticized as being add-ons to the Buddha's core teachings. Such mistakes as "Gotama Siddharta" do not inspire confidence, but that is a very small issue. Also, from this small sample, it also seems that our author does not quite understand there were two mainstreams of religious thought in India at the time of the Buddha. See S'ramana: Their Conflict with Brahmanical Society by Padmanabh S. Jaini and that the Buddha fit into one of them.

From his forward:
Our journey through life sometimes gets punctuated by significant events that we refer to as milestones. There were three distinct milestones that happened to me which, in the end, resulted in me writing this book. The first milestone happened in 1980, when I bought the book by T.R.V. Murti titled “The Central Philosophy Of Buddhism: A Study Of The Madhyamika System” (George Allen & Unwin 1955). After reading and re-reading that book, I’ve embarked upon serious and passionate study of the Buddhist teaching. That course of study and practice brought about the second milestone, which happened to me 18 years later, in 1998. It was thanks to me being immersed in the Buddhist practice that I was able to finally break through into the so called super-sensory territory, that is, to obtain an insight into the heightened perception that the Buddha himself was talking about in many of his sermons.

Finally, the third significant milestone happened to me in 2010, when I bought the book by David Kalupahana “Mulamadhyamakakarika of Nagarjuna: The Philosophy of the Middle Way” (published by Motilal Banarsidass 2006). That book simply brought everything into a much needed focus for me. After obtaining a broad and even somewhat deep grasp of many facets of the Buddhist teachings and practice, and after making a vital breakthrough into the super-sensory territory that the Buddha was always referring to, I was at last able to distill all these experiences into a comprehensive, coherent system. Which is what gave me the courage and the confidence to embark upon tackling the difficult points in Buddhism as I see them. The book that the reader is holding now is the result of that 30 odd years long spiritual journey.

Bunardzic, Alex. Difficult Points In Buddhism (Kindle Locations 118-120). Kindle Edition.


So, if the author would be so kind as to give a bit from the core of the book, it would be of interest.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:03 pm

Ben wrote:Greetings Geoff,
An administrative decision was made early on to remove the link on suspicion of the member being a spammer, as the member suggests that we should purchase his book to provide him with feedback.

This exchange with the author (below) does raise the question if feedback is really what he wants. I popped three bucks for this effort.

Our author in the interview characterizes his writing as: Light-hearted, fluffy and entertaining, but with a lot of bite. Fluffy I can agree with. The book could stand a great deal of editing, re-doing, and proof-reading, which would then possibly give us something of some general interest. The criticism of the Mahayana, for example, leaves a great deal to be desired. Basically, if one is going to criticize something, the something should be accurately portrayed, so that what is being criticized is the real deal. Anything else lacks substance.

In Chapter IX: How To Recognize Fraudulent Buddhist Instructors our author outlines what a genuine instructor (not teacher, for only the Buddha can be the teacher) looks like, which basically a portrait of a flawless arahant. Now, of course, the question is: is he telling us that as a matter of instruction? If so, does he fit the bill? If he does not fit the bill, why, then, is this a reliable statement by our author?

If you keep the above ten reminders describing authentic Buddhist instructors, you will never fall prey of many of the fraudulent impostors who are currently making rounds trying to convert the weak, the gullible, and the confused. (Bunardzic, Alex (2011-11-10). Difficult Points In Buddhism (Kindle Location 769). Kindle Edition.)
The reality is, of course, that there are very few arahants readily available as teachers. Now, certainly, no teacher should fall prey to any of the following:

1. It is not possible for an authentic Buddhist instructor to ever experience lust toward their disciples.
2. It is not possible for an authentic Buddhist instructor to crave sensual pleasures.
3. It is not possible for an authentic Buddhist instructor to crave material comfort.
4. It is not possible for an authentic Buddhist instructor to crave fame and recognition.
5. It is not possible for an authentic Buddhist instructor to consider his or her body as being clean.
6. It is not possible for an authentic Buddhist instructor to be afraid of his or her death.
7. It is not possible for an authentic Buddhist instructor to strive to subdue his or her opponents.
8. It is not possible for an authentic Buddhist instructor to indiscriminately protect his/her friends.
9. It is not possible for an authentic Buddhist instructor to ask for money from his/her disciples.
10. Finally, it is not possible for an authentic Buddhist instructor to ever engage in any acts of violence.

(Bunardzic, Alex (2011-11-10). Difficult Points In Buddhism (Kindle Locations 763-764). Kindle Edition.)
But to be totally free of these things would require one to be an arahant. I think there are good teachers who, by virtue of their practice, keep these things in check.

In the preceding chapter he states:
Failing to meet the Buddha in person, what one can hope to encounter, though, is a fully qualified Buddhist instructor. A person who had followed the Buddha’s teaching very closely, who had applied that teaching to the fullest extent and had thus managed to self-restraint and to appease the obsessions, is a worthy Buddhist instructor. Such a person can show the way to the unskilled Buddhist followers. (Bunardzic, Alex (2011-11-10). Difficult Points In Buddhism (Kindle Locations 679-680). Kindle Edition.)
All very true; however, he does not really expand in any of this. Some practical advice concerning teachers might be a bit more helpful than spending several pages on fraudulent teachers. Far better advice and more practical advice can be found in Jack Kornfield's A PATH WITH HEART, chap 16.

So far, from what I have read of this book, I would not say don't buy it, but I would not say do buy it, either, even if it is only $2.99. This is something that should have been made available as a free PDF, in my opinion.

The table of contents:
Foreword. 3 Introduction. 4 Preamble: What Is Buddhism?. 5 How To Practice The Middle Way. 6 Chapter I: Buddhism Is A Critique Of The Sources Of Knowledge. 8 Chapter II: Why Is Buddhism Popular?. 11 Chapter III: Buddhism And Random Events. 14 Chapter V: Appeasing The Obsessions. 19 Chapter VI: Why Embellish The Buddha’s Teaching?. 22 Chapter VII: Buddhism Is Non-Sectarian. 24 Chapter VIII: Do You Need A Buddhist Teacher?. 26 Chapter IX: How To Recognize Fraudulent Buddhist Instructors. 28 Chapter X: Is Buddhism A Dogma?. 31 Chapter XI: Is Buddhism A Unique Teaching?. 33 Chapter XII: Is Dependent Origination A Unique Buddhist Teaching?. 35 Chapter XIII: Avoid Speculators And Non-Speculators. 37 Chapter XIV: Is Buddhism A Career?. 40 Chapter XV: Do Phenomena Exist?. 43 Chapter XVI: Buddhism And The Personality Cult 46 Chapter XVII: Selfish Vs. Altruistic Buddhism.. 49 Chapter XVIII: Confused Buddhism.. 52 Chapter XIX: The Curse Of Substantiality. 54 Chapter XX: Middle Way And Ethics. 58 Chapter XXI: Buddhism And Absolutism.. 62 Chapter XXII: Buddhism And Common Sense. 65 Chapter XXIII: Buddhist Armament Race. 67 Chapter XXIV: Likes And Dislikes In Buddhism.. 69 Chapter XXV: Buddhism And Science. 71 Chapter XXVI: The Problem Of Mahayana Buddhism.. 73 Chapter XXVII: Hankering For The World In The Buddhist Practice. 78 Chapter XXVIII: The Problem With Ultimate Reality. 83 Chapter XXIX: Buddhism And Emptiness. 86 Chapter XXX: Limits Of What Is Expressible And What Is Thinkable. 88 Chapter XXXI: Buddha’s Silence. 94 Chapter XXXII: Two Teachings: Provisional And Ultimate. 99 Chapter XXXIII: Two Truths. 102 Chapter XXXIV: The Bodhisattva Ideal 107 Chapter XXXV: The Nagarjuna Problem.. 110 Chapter XXXVI: Two Fruits. 115 Chapter XXXVII: The Friendly Way. 118 Chapter XXXVIII: The Buddha As A Physician. 120 Chapter XXXIX: Buddha’s Reliance On Words. 123 Conclusion. 127




alexbunardzic wrote:
tilt wrote:
alexbunardzic wrote:
The seeds of the Mahayana movement were apparently planted by the Buddha himself, who had repeatedly refused to provide definitive answers to the two most burning questions that people were constantly asking him:

1. Who is the Buddha's chosen heir (i.e. who will get appointed by the Buddha as a rightful successor to continue the teaching after the Buddha's death)?
2. What happens to the Buddha/Tathagata after he dies?
To clarify: When I asked for your source, I was asking for your source for your claim that this is what drove the formation of the Mahayana.


Ah, gotcha! My source is some Gypsy woman (at least she looked like she could be Gypsy, but my sources on that are shaky, so let's just leave it at that for now). I ran into her many moons ago at a country fair and she ended up reading my palm (for a nominal fee, of course).
="Ben"does not fill me with any desire whatsoever to purchase his "book".
kind regards,

Ben
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby alexbunardzic » Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:43 am

SeekingDharma wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:I already did a bit of a search. The following excerpt from this Interview with Alex Bunardzic leads me to think that the author doesn't really know much about the subject matter he is trying to criticize (emphasis added).

    My book is about certain difficult points in Buddhism. There appears to be a fairly large body of confusion about what is Buddhism, what is the fundamental Buddhist teaching and practice, and how can Buddhism fit into our daily lives. Upon closer inspection of the contemporary Buddhist literature available on the market today, it turns out that many of the books dealing with the topic are actually not discussing Buddhism at all. They’re mostly Brahmanism, Taoism, or other Absolutist religions disguised as Buddhism.



I hate to make an improper assumption, but it would appear to me that this book is largely a critique of current/popular Buddhist literature. Alex, would you mind clarifying? If that is the case, would you mind speaking to which bodies of work you are basing your research on? Surely the view on Brahmanism/Taoism/Absolutist religions can't be derived from the Tipitika itself. Correct?

Further in the interview it is stated, "...because I wrote and published the book in order to possibly make some money..." I think it's clear this post is a "get the word out" opportunity--you probably will not find a tremendous amount of people to purchase the book through this avenue, but if you're interested in discussing your views and advocating your position I think you'd be pleasantly surprised and properly engaged here. I am truly interested in hearing your views on this matter, if only you'd define what you believe these points to be. An educated alternative view may behold a learning opportunity for all of us, but documented facts would be necessary to get us there.


Look guys, get the book, read the book, and then let's talk. I'm sure shelling $2.99 is not gonna kill anyone, no? But to latch onto obsessing about my personality without even reading my book borders on frivolous. Leave my personality alone, leave my remarks about the Gypsy woman alone, I'm of no interest here, just read the book, and then explain what you see deficient in it.
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Re: Difficult Points In Buddhism

Postby Ben » Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:49 am

alexbunardzic wrote:Look guys, get the book, read the book, and then let's talk. I'm sure shelling $2.99 is not gonna kill anyone, no? But to latch onto obsessing about my personality without even reading my book borders on frivolous. Leave my personality alone, leave my remarks about the Gypsy woman alone, I'm of no interest here, just read the book, and then explain what you see deficient in it.


This is bordering on spam.
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

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