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Distorting the Dharma [Advice] - Dhamma Wheel

Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Arali
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Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby Arali » Fri Aug 16, 2013 8:53 pm

Hello,

I've found myself in an odd position and could use some advice.

The textbook of a course I'm taking has a chapter that discusses Buddhism. It is pretty inaccurate.
I wrote to the university about it. I addressed several of the inaccuracies, but this is my main complaint:
They completely changed the 4th Noble Truth.


Image

They responded that these are matters of contention among Buddhists and that the box I've posted was from Stephen Batchelor a "Buddhist teacher".

I contacted Batchelor. He had no idea what they were talking about. I sent them what he had said, and included a variety of sources showing that The Four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold path are not something Buddhists are in disagreement about.

They've replied that their depiction of Buddhism is accurate.

I have 28 days to respond, but how does one respond to that?

My concern is that this chapter is one that students are required to learn. They must write an essay on it, which contributes to their final grade. Some of the people who take this course will go on to guide others' mindfulness practice. And changes are being made to make this course mandatory to every student undertaking psychology and/or counselling degree. That is a lot of people who will learn that the 4th Noble truth is 'Repeat 1-3 and it will become more effortless'.

I have tried to do what I thought was right, but I don't know how to proceed, and could use some input from fellow practitioners.

Any and all advice will be much appreciated.

Yours in the Dharma,
Arali

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby Modus.Ponens » Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:22 pm

I'm shocked by such a distortion! Jesus!

Thinking about it, Jesus might be the reason...

If not, it's a severe mistake that an academic institution doesn't correct its mistakes. That's the fundamental principle of science!

EDIT: Sorry for not having useful advice. Just wanted to get the previous out of my system.
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

Justsit
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby Justsit » Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:48 pm

Tell them that there is widespread controversy over the authenticity of Batchelor's "Buddhism."
Ask them if it would be OK to study Christianity from a book written by Fred Phelps. Granted, bit of an extreme example, but they may get the point.
Last edited by Justsit on Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Coyote
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby Coyote » Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:50 pm

Is the text book written by your university? If so you should take it higher up - I am not sure of the process, but there should be one. If not, then have you contacted the authors? Which department in the course in? You could try contacting the head of that department, or alternately the RS, Philosophy ect. department, if there is one at your university.

Unfortunately misinformation is not uncommon in the school system, but it is terrible that this is happening at university level.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
Iti 26

Arali
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby Arali » Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:41 pm


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daverupa
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby daverupa » Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:49 pm

Maybe you can try to get a footnote or a 'suggested reading' endnote added, with a balanced reading list.

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Kim OHara
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:56 pm


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Ben
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby Ben » Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:04 pm

The Four Noble Truths happens to be one of those things that the vast majority of Buddhists are actually in agreement with.
If Stephen Batchelor has also denied that he has reduced the 4NT to what has been quoted then it would be a good idea to follow up with the previous suggestions. Not only is the material factually incorrect but it appears that it has been erroneously attributed to a respected author.
What isn't clear is whether the quoted material is in a text that is published by the university or whether it is a text published elsewhere but utilised by the university. If you don't get any traction with your complaint - continue to take it up the food chain until you get to the Vice Chancellor and then include your previous unsuccessful attempts to raise the issue with the relevant department.
Wishing you all the best,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby Modus.Ponens » Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:07 pm

Even wikipedia's summary is (much, much) better than this thing.

If they were actions, they would be called the four noble actions, not the four noble truths. And I fail to see where these actions are a necessary adaptation to the western modern world.

I shouldn't be surprised, though. A few months ago the case of a buddhist scholar at Oxford was discussed here at DW. He left buddhism for unsubstantiated objections to the buddhist path. An Oxford PhD in buddhist studies making such mistakes should have given me the adequate imunitary cells.
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

plwk
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby plwk » Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:23 pm


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Kim OHara
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:24 am


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clw_uk
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby clw_uk » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:00 am

I'm shocked :jawdrop:

How does that pass for buddhism
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

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Aloka
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby Aloka » Sat Aug 17, 2013 12:37 pm

This 21 minute extract from a talk from Ajahn Amaro "Practising with The Four Noble Truths" might be helpful in some way.



Jhana4
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby Jhana4 » Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:32 pm

I think this is one of those situations where change is only going to happen when the company realizes it and its reputation are out in the spotlight.

How about going to one of those petition sites, creating a petition with a polite of the situation, inviting prominet monks & profressors to sign the petitionm and then posting links to the petition anywhere where people might care?
Last edited by Jhana4 on Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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David N. Snyder
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Aug 17, 2013 3:57 pm

Image




Arali
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby Arali » Sat Aug 17, 2013 8:23 pm

Thank you all for your replies. :)

I think I will appeal to the Vice Chancellor, and if that fails, then I'll create a petition.

Anyone have anything they think I should include in this final appeal?

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sat Aug 17, 2013 8:54 pm

My advice is for you to be very diplomatic and careful. I have a friend who didn't finish his degree over conflict with teacher(s). Your own welfare is very important.
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

dagon
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby dagon » Sat Aug 17, 2013 9:52 pm


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Cittasanto
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Aug 17, 2013 10:00 pm

I do not know about university politics but the fourth Noble Truth is wrong.

Bachelor isn't a Buddhist teacher in the sense of standard Buddhism, and all schools I know would disagree here, however, there is a video I watched recently that I thought was beautiful in one aspect which hapends to relate to your problem!



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

Jhana4
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Re: Distorting the Dharma [Advice]

Postby Jhana4 » Sat Aug 17, 2013 10:41 pm

In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.


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