Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

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Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby cooran » Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:03 pm

Hello all,

Good to see some guidelines will be given regarding the proliferation of commercial buddhist books - at least in one country.

Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books:
By L. B. Senaratne, Daily Mirror, Oct 23, 2009

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- A memorandum has been sent to President Mahinda Rajapaksa by the Mahanayaka Theras of the three Nikayas to set up a Board of the Maha Sangha and laymen to approve books pertaining to Buddhism.
The Mahanayake Theras of the Malwatta and Asgiriya chapters of the Siyam Nikaya and Amarapura and Ramanya Nikayas in a joint memorandum to President Rajapaksa, stated that this procedure had become a necessity to prevent and avoid the publication of books distorting the life of the Buddha and Buddhism.

The Mahanyakes’ have stated that some books published recently had distorted the life of the Buddha, his doctrine and the life and times of Buddha and Buddhism.

The Mahnayake’ have cited two specific books as examples of this distortion which they claim are titled, "Apa Upan Me Helabima Budun Upan Jambuddepaya" and "Buddhothpaththiya Heladivai" giving false information about Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, his doctrine and other events of his life.

Such distortions could be prevented if the scripts of books on Buddhism and Buddha’s life were submitted to a board of erudite monks and laymen prior to their publication.

The memorandum has been signed by the Mahanayakes of Mawatta chapter Ven Tibbatuwawe Sri Sidhhartha Sumangala Thera, Mahanayka of Asgiriya Chapter, Ven Udugama Sri Buddharakkitha Thera, Mahanayake of Amarapura Nikaya, Ven Dauldena Gnanissara Thera and the Mahanayke of Ramanya Nikaya Ven Weweldeniya Medhalankara Thera.
http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php ... 27,0,0,1,0

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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby Individual » Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:13 pm

Chris wrote:Good to see some guidelines will be given regarding the proliferation of commercial buddhist books - at least in one country.

You mean censorship? Imagine a Christian country where they censored all books which "distort" the official account of Jesus' life. Distortion is a matter of opinion, and even among scholarly opinion, there can be large minority opinions which are controversial but end up being correct. When there is censorship, there is no free exchange of ideas. When there is no free exchange of ideas, there is intellectual stagnation. Why would any scholar want to publish anything on Buddhism in a country where what they publish has to be reviewed by a religious board? It's absurd and such a policy will cause a decline in the quality and quantity of Buddhist books in Sri Lanka.
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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby Ben » Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:39 pm

Individual wrote:You mean censorship? Imagine a Christian country where they censored all books which "distort" the official account of Jesus' life.


If you want to talk about censorship, look at your own country - one of the most repressive when it comes to intellectual freedom.

http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/b ... /index.cfm
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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby cooran » Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:43 pm

Hello Individual,

My understanding is that they are talking about false information - which runs counter to the historical facts accepted by all Traditions, academic scholars and historians.

metta
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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby Individual » Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:26 pm

Ben wrote:
Individual wrote:You mean censorship? Imagine a Christian country where they censored all books which "distort" the official account of Jesus' life.


If you want to talk about censorship, look at your own country - one of the most repressive when it comes to intellectual freedom.

http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/b ... /index.cfm

Governments tend to be intolerant of controversial books, so they don't allow them in schools or public libraries. That is different than barring a book from publication. Most of those censorship cases are decades old and all the books are freely available now.

But in any case, how would that justify this?

Chris wrote:Hello Individual,

My understanding is that they are talking about false information - which runs counter to the historical facts accepted by all Traditions, academic scholars and historians.

metta
Chris

False information, of what nature? Hindus portraying Buddha as a Hindu, Christians and Muslims portraying the Buddha negatively? There's also likely some historical claims by non-religious historians that "traditional" Buddhists may disagree with or that generate debate among historians themselves.

From J.S. Mill's On Liberty:

If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

This idea, though, doesn't seem to be original or even foreign to Buddhism. The same idea is reflected in the beginning of the Brahmajala Sutta, with the two wandering ascetics:

http://web.ukonline.co.uk/theravada/brahma1.htm#1

Had the Buddha had the attitude then that some have today, he'd have demanded that the ascetic who criticized him be forcefully moved somewhere discreet and silenced.
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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby pink_trike » Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:35 pm

Chris wrote:Hello Individual,

My understanding is that they are talking about false information - which runs counter to the historical facts accepted by all Traditions, academic scholars and historians.

metta
Chris

It will certainly be interesting to see exactly which "historical facts" that are "acceptable by all" in this diverse group are codified. :rofl:
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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:51 pm

quite a lot of books have to pass through inspection anyway, It would depend what type of book it was! if t is an educasional book I would of thought it would of needed checking for acuracy anyway, but they could set up a voluntary version ofwhat they are asking for like the comic book/gaphic novel companies did, it isn't essential but it givs a certain guarantee.
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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:21 pm

Greetings,

I don't like the idea of banning such books, but I'm in favour of some kind of "stamp of approval" for books that are approved by such a review board.

I also think Buddhist books should try to clearly distinguish what tradition they represent in the interests of reader clarity and perspective, but you can't enforce something like that.

:reading:

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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:35 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

I don't like the idea of banning such books, but I'm in favour of some kind of "stamp of approval" for books that are approved by such a review board.

I also think Buddhist books should try to clearly distinguish what tradition they represent in the interests of reader clarity and perspective, but you can't enforce something like that.

:reading:

Metta,
Retro. :)


retro, why not have Dhamma Wheel samps of approval,one requisi they proide members with free copies :tongue:
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby Individual » Fri Oct 23, 2009 11:57 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

I don't like the idea of banning such books, but I'm in favour of some kind of "stamp of approval" for books that are approved by such a review board.

I also think Buddhist books should try to clearly distinguish what tradition they represent in the interests of reader clarity and perspective, but you can't enforce something like that.

:reading:

Metta,
Retro. :)

I agree.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby Jechbi » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:30 am

Ben wrote:If you want to talk about censorship, look at your own country - one of the most repressive when it comes to intellectual freedom.

wow. Didn't see that coming.

Regarding the OP, the effort to "prevent and avoid the publication of books" seems like the wrong approach. If there are distorted understandings, then why not address them through open discussion? Suppressing one form of expression won't get rid of the distortion.
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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:39 am

Jechbi wrote:
Ben wrote:If you want to talk about censorship, look at your own country - one of the most repressive when it comes to intellectual freedom.

wow. Didn't see that coming.

My apologies for the akusala dhammas!
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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby Jechbi » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:47 am

:anjali:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby gavesako » Sat Oct 24, 2009 7:14 am

They have such a board in Burma, and only texts which conform 100 percent to the commentarial-Abhidhamma tradition will be passed. So even Pa Auk Sayadaw's books which contain some controversial detail about kalapas or whatnot cannot be published in Burma and have to be printed in Singapore or Malaysia instead. Such a censorship board would perhaps be justified if Christian missionaries were trying to subvert Buddhism by spreading misinformation (as they already do) but I don't think that is the main point here.
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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby PeterB » Sat Oct 24, 2009 8:36 am

I am dubious. Hmmmmmm.
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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby catmoon » Sat Oct 24, 2009 9:06 am

PeterB wrote:I am dubious. Hmmmmmm.


Great dubious, great enlightenment?
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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:21 pm

the original books in question was trying to state that the Buddha was born in Sri Lanka. Not Fact.
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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Oct 24, 2009 6:38 pm

i think it would be nice if there was some sort of board set up to aprove of books by giving them some sort of stamp of aproval, like some dhamma version of the oprah book club, but i'm not on board to just flat out denying people the right to publish whatever crap they see fit to publish, even if it is misleading, racist, etc.

when i first became a buddhist i had to set up my own little set of guidelines to make sure i wasnt reading crap, it wasnt the best system, but it was the best one i could think of, i just stayed away from anything writen by westerners, non monastics etc, these days i dont follow this system and in fact read a lot by people i would have stayed away from then (ajahn brahm, nina van gorkom, ajahn sujato etc) it would have been nice to have had a system already out there that helped me find great information with out having to set up what was basicly a flawed system of my own.
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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby pink_trike » Sat Oct 24, 2009 7:34 pm

I wonder if the same care will be taken to make sure science and history books are accurate.
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Re: Mahanayakas want a Board to scrutinize Buddhist books

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 24, 2009 7:51 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:i think it would be nice if there was some sort of board set up to aprove of books by giving them some sort of stamp of aproval, like some dhamma version of the oprah book club, but i'm not on board to just flat out denying people the right to publish whatever crap they see fit to publish, even if it is misleading, racist, etc.


The Catholic Church has aystem set up in place in place:

http://www.thewordstoday.com/nihil.htm
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