In looking at answers to some questions I am frequently seeing a overt but unacknowledged sectarian affiliation. For example in the question Desire without attachment, some of the answers are purely Theravādin and given in a definitive tone, as though there could be no other answer. But this is seldom true. On very many points, not least the question of desire and attachment, a Mahāyānist would certainly answer differently. A Tantrika would have a different view again.

I wonder if we need to get people to state their sectarian affiliations in answers? On Reddit people have little tags beside their names which are typically used to indicate sectarian affiliation.

The overwhelming majority of answers here show a strong bias towards a Theravāda affiliation. Theravāda orthodoxy and Theravāda texts are cited as definitively authoritative, but without any explicit acknowledgement that this is the case. An answer about "Buddhism" from a purely sectarian point of view is actually misleading.

Is there any plan to address the question of bias in the answers?

  • 4
    We have had a related discussion here but I think it is worth revisiting. I would imagine that people aren't even aware of their own bias. They may think the answer is valid for all Buddhist schools when it isn't. I know I have difficulty with this Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 10:47

13 Answers 13


It might be better to suggest putting the onus on the asker; if you want an answer from a specific school, then you should really state it. In fact, we should probably discourage broad questions like "what does Buddhism say about X", since it should be pretty obvious that "Buddhism" as a theoretical "whole", like any other major religion, says lots of conflicting things about pretty much every X.

On the other hand, in cases where the OP doesn't specify a tradition, there should probably be a certain expectation of reluctance to giving in depth answers specific to one tradition or another, since doing so will inevitably lead to opposing answers from other traditions, confusion, and potential argumentation.

Does the site really benefit from having multiple conflicting answers from each tradition, with "best" answers based on percentage of members following a specific tradition, or the OP's personal bent? I would argue that it doesn't.

So in cases where no tradition is given, I would suggest either comments requesting specification/pointing out the naivete of asking for a "Buddhist" stance or answers that are general enough to cover all forms of Buddhism.

What we probably shouldn't expect are lengthy posts trying to give multiple answers from each of the major Buddhist traditions. That would seem to set an unreasonably high bar for answers.

Nor should we expect sectarian answers to non-sectarian questions, even with "from the point of view of tradition X". I know I am guilty of offering such answers as well, but it doesn't seem like the best solution, especially in cases where it is clear that not all Buddhists will agree.

I wonder how the other religious sites have dealt with this question?

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    I wonder how the other religious sites have dealt with this question? I'm not familiar with the Christianity site, for example: but if I've understood their FAQ correctly, they don't want answers based on personal opinion, and don't want any 'pastoral care' questions; furthermore it seems to be not for studying Christianity (as a whole, questions about which would require too broad an answer) nor the opinions of individuals, but for studying specific theologies of specific sects.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 14:49
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    And I am not familiar with Judaic sectarianism (assuming there is such a thing): but so far as I can tell, the Judaism site started as and expects to continue to be orthodox and conservative (and expert).
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 15:01
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    The Islam site warns against sectarian intolerance: Why Sectarianism is Ruining Your Site. And they have many (non-FAQ) meta-topics about 'sect'. And this (low-voted but undisputed) topic says that if a sect isn't specified in the question (which it needn't be) then answers from any sect are permitted.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 15:33
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    Questions like "what does Buddhism say about X" are very likely coming from those who are truly naive about Buddhism and just beginning to learn about it. An "experienced" Buddhist would probably ask a more refined question. We may run the risk of driving away newcomers by asking them to identify which sect they want to hear from as they'd be unlikely to know much about sects. I always thought the "from the point of view of tradition X" in an answer was a pretty workable solution all around to identify that the answer may not be universal.
    – Robin111
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 16:25
  • @Robin111 That makes sense, I suppose. It just makes us less able to fit with the SE model of "one right answer", which may not be a bad thing. Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 16:29
  • We may be a bit different from the SE sites that deal with programming and technical topics in that we do get true beginners and outsiders. Maybe the technical sites do as well; but it's a little harder to picture. :)
    – Robin111
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 16:37
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    @Robin111 Other sites do get true beginners but they're required to ask very specific problems (e.g. if they ask a question about a programming language then they need to specify which language they're asking about, etc.). Explicitly in contrast to other sites our policy has been to permit almost any question. I find it difficult to even ask about sects I don't know much about, and so I think it's advantageous that people volunteer answers from several sects to questions which don't ask about a single sect.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 21:12
  • While buddhist questions can be very technical, I'm not sure how useful this site would be if we promote strictness, for example, of Christianity S.E. To me, it seems healthier to have a more welcoming policy, even if that means "selected answer" could be less meaningful (votes can still bubble up important answers). Then, once it becomes too much to handle, to spin off a more specialist S.E (like "programmers" branching out of "stack overflow", or "hermeneutics" separated from "christianity", or "math" separated from "math overflow", etc)
    – user382
    Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 2:24
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    I've often wondered if the StackExchange format of "objective" answers is suitable for religions or humanities at all? On the Hinduism.SE site all questions which can have more than one correct answer are deleted as being opinion based, which I felt restricted the usefulness of the site greatly.
    – Buddho
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 6:36

Can I put a suggestion in which might be a bit controversial.

If there is an answer that is from a particularly sectarian viewpoint that is unacknowledged then someone that spots it could edit the answer and put a line at the bottom e.g.

Please note this answer is from a XXXXXXX viewpoint which may not neccessarily apply to other Buddhist schools or traditions.

and then leave a comment on the answer saying

I have taken the liberty of identifying the tradition or school of Buddhism that this answer is from. Please feel free to edit or perhaps post on meta if this is inappropriate. This is in line with site policy [link to a policy question on meta - maybe this one]

If this is a standard way of doing things then it would be less inflammatory then people just editing and commenting as they see fit.

Just a thought.

  • I think it is worth considering. But it seems that at least some people do not see themselves as having a sectarian pov. To some it's "just Buddhism". So one might become embroiled in conflicts with them with this approach.
    – Jayarava
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 9:52
  • The interesting perspective above from Samurdha Jayasinghe shows how refined viewpoints can be even within a single sect. Also this question Balanced Participation by Multiple Traditions shows the great diversity within Theradava alone. So branding answers in a standard way might be problematic as even a Theravada answer may not speak for all of Theravada.
    – Robin111
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 16:55
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    I suspect the way most of us regulars differentiate is by over time getting to know the perspectives of other people who answer regularly. But this does nothing to help newcomers nor is it workable as the site grows. The profiles are useful, but there is no requirement to fill them in.
    – Robin111
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 17:00
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    @Robin111 perhaps another way is to (somehow) encourage users to put their affiliations in their profiles - maybe with a featured meta question. I had mine in there but I swapped it for a poem I like!! Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 17:01
  • Since not everyone visits Meta; an additional idea might be to add a comment to an answer when appropriate along the lines of "Thank you for your participation. It's unclear if your answers are written from the PoV of a particular sect. Would you be willing to add a note to your profile describing your perspective? It's optional, but helpful to the community." Something not too pushy but hopefully pointing out how this is helpful. Hmm....I suppose I should go fill out my own profile! :)
    – Robin111
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 17:08
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    @Robin111 I think encouraging people to fill out their profile would be good - maybe we could discuss on a separate meta thread? Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 17:16
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    @Robin111 Sankha's comment was, "Mostly historians do that". I don't even see a benefit in going out of our way to label specific sects ... there is alleged to be "the problem of bias" but I don't understand what that problem is and for who ... people volunteer information but I don't feel good about 'encouraging' people to self-identify their sect (also age, education, gender, relationship status, nationality, wealth ... any of which might be sources of bias too?). It could be coercive (to 'encourage') and a barrier (to have as a price of admission), and just advertise further sectarianism.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 17:48
  • @ChrisW, the whole comment was '@Lanka Theravada Buddhists don't really recognize other schools. Mostly historians do that. So it's just Buddhism for us." I think this is problematic for a site which embraces all traditions. As a practical matter, the teachings of the various sects are not universal. Different teachings do exist.
    – Robin111
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 17:56
  • Look at this answer: "I see a giant person peering into a box with a magnifying glass" ... fair enough that it might help the "giant" if people would put their own exhibit labels on themselves ... maybe labels would be a source of "bias" too. though? And Christianity.SE is explicitly to study the theologies of specific/explicit sects, I don't suppose the purpose of this site is to study and contrast sectarian beliefs.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 18:19
  • @ChrisW, no it's surely not the purpose of the site to study and contrast sectarian beliefs. But "the giant" in your analogy is the newcomer to Buddhism who doesn't know that the unidentified answer is not a "universal" answer for all of Buddhism. We do have different teachings. There need be no animosity about that. It's simple fact. And I'm sure we all wish our site to be helpful to those with little experience in Buddhism who come here for answers. What's the alternative?
    – Robin111
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 18:30
  • @ChrisW, my suggestion is to encourage people to fill out their own profiles so they can identify themselves rather than be "branded" with a standard comment or edit from someone else as suggested in this answer. I'm not sure what you mean about adding "age, education, gender, relationship status, nationality, wealth". That wasn't suggested. The only helpful information would be (potentially) from what Buddhist perspective you answer, if anything in particular.
    – Robin111
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 18:38
  • @Robin111 You've now identified someone for whom it is "the problem", i.e. the victim of the problem is "the newcomer" (and isn't for example "the academic", who knows already). What's the alternative? Just let people continue to answer questions as they see fit. If the newcomer then asks "which sect is that?" or "why is one of you saying the dhamma is like a huge leaf while the other is saying it's like a tree trunk?" then explain that. I'm pessimistic about making systemic changes which affect everyone because I'm ok with things the way they are and don't want to upset people's status quo.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 18:43
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    @ChrisW, I understand your concern. But the site is growing and continuing on in the cozy manner where regulars just sort of know others perspectives from reading their answers over time, becomes somewhat less workable with larger numbers of participants. By encouraging, (not requiring), people to tell us a bit about their perspective via their profile, you haven't made a systemic change. You've given a user a quick and easy method of clicking into a profile to get more information; rather than leaving a comment and waiting for a reply. But I agree that systemic changes are unnecessary.
    – Robin111
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 18:52
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    I see the value in this. I have edited my profile to provide this kind of context. Maybe it's something we just do it, and it's done :)
    – user382
    Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 14:50

I think we should revisit ways to attract people from other traditions. I'm afraid:

  • the strong presence of "Theravada users" could have alienated some users from other traditions in the past (because of overall content, because of some users attitude, or both).
  • if the majority of published material is perceived as having "Theravada inclination", it could alienate new users from other traditions (to the point this sites finally becomes associated with Theravada?)

Maybe we expected more traditions to follow soon, but it has been one year, and it's possible the content of the site is already becoming unattractive to many buddhists? And in S.E., we already have many other reasons to be careful to not scare people away.

I like @ChrisW tips, in that you use the space of your answer to identify other answer's tradition and distinguish it from your own. But more than, say, tagging questions, I think we will risk adding boilerplate:

  • It will be more moderating work, to add default disclaimers
  • The standard disclaimers might be the source of discussions (deviating from the question of matter).
  • It might be unnatural for people to learn to do it themselves.

I am frequently seeing a overt but unacknowledged sectarian affiliation.

I think people will willingly acknowledge it, but don't make a habit of explicitly saying so all the time.

Is there any plan to address the question of bias in the answers?

There's currently no such plan (not because a plan would be bad, but there isn't one).

The normal way to create a plan might be to use this meta-site:

  • To highlight a perceived problem, and ask for suggested solutions
  • To propose a solution, and ask people to discuss it and/or vote on it

I wonder if we need to get people to state their sectarian affiliations in answers?

That might be wordy (if everyone has a 'standard disclaimer' in their every answer) and more to police.

If you are able to answer from the POV of more than one sect, then that's welcome; so to say that sects differ on some subject, your answer could say e.g.,

"From a Theravādin perspective, X, but from a Mahāyānist perspective, Y."

We could vote on having a site policy which says whether people are allowed/expected to edit other people's answer to add a sect: e.g. vote on whether you can edit other people's answers to add, "From a Theravādin perspective," to the beginning of any answer which you think deserves it.

When you say, "we need to", why is that? Is it to help a (perhaps vanishingly small) subset of readers: i.e. readers who know that there are sects, and who know the names of sects, and who care about which answer can be associated with which sect, but who aren't able to recognize for themselves which sect each answer could be categorized as?

On Reddit people have little tags beside their names which are typically used to indicate sectarian affiliation.

IMO we cannot change the web site's functionality. We can only change how we use the web site.

The normal place to put a sectarian affiliation would be in your user profile. You have more-or-less done so already. So have many other users. Other users who haven't are always welcome to (but not required to).

If you're knowledgeable, as you are, then you may recognize a sect/source of an answer. If you're a long-term user of the site you'll also recognize other users and remember some of their previous answers (so when they post a new answer you can try to pigeon-hole it by author, if you want to).

An answer about "Buddhism" from a purely sectarian point of view is actually misleading.

I'm sorry you feel that way. I find it reminiscent of the blind men and the elephant. If I can't see the whole of the Buddhist elephant all at once, I'm grateful to be introduced to different aspects of it.

Perhaps I'm wrong but rather than "actually misleading" I hope that it's "actually better than nothing".

I'd like to point this sequence of comments as an example:

  • Could you mention that your answer is based in Theravada Buddhism? Thank you. – Lanka
  • @Lanka all my answers are :) – Sankha Kulathantille
  • @Sankha. I know:) Just the OP might not know and Andrei wrote in beginning of his post that it was from the Mahayana perspective. So to make it easier for new users we could write what perspective we are based in. Just my opinion. – Lanka
  • @Lanka Theravada Buddhists don't really recognize other schools. Mostly historians do that. So it's just Buddhism for us. – Sankha Kulathantille
  • And we do recognize other schools, it's all Buddhism for us :) – Andrei Volkov

FWIW one of the usual suggestions is to write another answer yourself. For example if you see a question with a 'sectarian' answer you could add a new answer which begins,

The answer from @X is an orthodox Theravādin perspective; but I would add that, from a Mahāyānist perspective, etc.

... some of the answers are purely Theravādin and given in a definitive tone, as though there could be no other answer. But this is seldom true.

I imagine that for some people, English is a second language. In any case I'm grateful that so many people write so well and I'm averse to criticizing their tone.

I actually see all answers as personal, fallible (which is one reason why the site supports voting), and a (incomplete) summary.

  • I take you points. On the last one however most of the voters are also have a Theravādin orientation, so voting is not the answer to the problem here.
    – Jayarava
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 9:55
  • Thank you. I agree, that voting is no solution e.g. to a problem of wanting to advertise that a non-Theravādin or a multi-sect answer is equally (or more) popular or 'valid'. But voting is a bit of a solution to the problem of answers being fallible: for example, answers that people think have negative value are downvoted, and net-negative answers (not that there are many of those to begin with) often end up deleted. I guess my personal interest in votes is less "which answer (singular) is the most popular?" and more "which answers (plural) are reliable (i.e. have received any endorsement)?"
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 10:34
  • As I say, I think the people voting and answering questions (and in fact asking questions) are the same people on the whole. Thus the problem of bias is not solved by having those people vote on answers.
    – Jayarava
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 11:06
  • 1
    @JayaravaAttwood he has a point on the votes, in that many users cast votes by the perceived quality, not by it's alignment with one's tradition. But yeah, I don't think this, or anything else, could remove a bias from a biased population.
    – user382
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 13:27
  • Actually I'm sure I observer the opposite - people tend to vote for those answers which confirm their existing beliefs, or which seem to come from a representative of their preferred sectarian view.
    – Jayarava
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 16:36
  • Just another example of bias in voting. I note that this morning Yuttadhammo has posted a question asking people to write a summary of what Buddhism is, in the most general sense. He admits he's asking us to "do his homework". There are no answers as yet, but the question itself has 5 upvotes in just 6 hours. I'd take a lot of convincing that this was voting on merit.
    – Jayarava
    Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 7:20
  • @JayaravaAttwood The top-voted questions are all (by definition) popular and not imo sectarian. I think a clearer example of "bias" is voting on the answers to this question -- e.g. I won't upvote them, ... not exactly because they don't "confirm my beliefs" or "represent my preferred sectarian view" ... but because I don't know that subject therefore I cannot "upvote to demonstrate my confirmation/agreement that this answer is correct".
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 8:08
  • This answer doesn't address my concerns.
    – Jayarava
    Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 8:18
  • @JayaravaAttwood And a comment like this one proves that a person will tolerate or upvote even a question from an outsider view. And for example my most upvoted answer somewhat contradicts a more orthodox answer. I think you're right that people answer according to their personal beliefs, but as Thiago said I think that people also vote on "merit".
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 8:25
  • 1
    (i.e. you're presumably both right: you can see one voting pattern and see its opposite).
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 8:25

Speaking for myself, I have no sectarian affiliation.

Sometimes I am likely to give a Theravadin answer, some other times a Zen answer, sometimes a humanist, or Hindu or Christian or scientific answer, or a mixture of several of them, whatever seems apt. I may not even give the same answer always to the same question. Truth doesn't break into neat chunks, if it did, it would be dead, a living truth evolves. This is why there are so many schools of buddhist thought over the ages.

I can only avoid stating that an answer is incontrovertible and leave the door of doubt open. Which I've always done. It's a good practice of non-attachment to views if one takes a Zen view on it. Maybe this can be the explicitly stated terms of this website. All views are fallible, including this one.

A shadow is as true a representation of a thing as a photograph or xray of it. They are each very different in what they depict though they point to the same, yet none are false. So, truth to me has many versions, yet they can all be true.

I don't think there are any perfectly objective truths in this world, they are all subjective. Even science which favours definitive & objective proof only operates objectively within constraints of knowledge, tools and assumptions. Without constraints, including but not limited to quantum sciences, the "scientific truth" loses its objectivity.

As the Zen saying goes, it is neither the bamboo, nor the wind, it is our mind that moves.


My answers would most definitely appear to be from a Theravada perspective, but I only consider the Sutta pitaka to be authoritative (most closely resembles, in my opinion, what the historical Buddha would've taught) which is AFAIK almost identical to the Chinese Āgamas.

I do not give the same level of credence to the Theravada Abhidhamma or the commentarial sources. I also do not necessarily agree with all of the rites and rituals of the Theravada tradition, nor do I identify with any of the nationalistic elements that are increasingly being associated with Theravada Buddhism in countries like Sri Lanka.

I think this issue is much more nuanced than it appears.


After reading the discussions here, I got a second kind of impression about what is being discussed.

"Traditionally", it seems stackexchange communities put a lot of emphasis on references and materials in answers, low playing answers that are hard to verify (verify if they are correct, verify their mechanism, and/or verify their origin).

To a large extent, I think we carry that through as we also value "backing up answers". We quote sutras, we provide references to literature (buddhist, and even non-buddist to enrich the topic), we link research. And personally, I think this is one of the most empowering characteristics of such communities.

It's not just something valuable in itself, but I think it also comes as a strong point to the problem of this thread. We can point out answers we know while informing where these can be found in more detail (which expand to author names, traditions, credentials etc). In this way, it's up for the reader to make his own mind.

If we provide answer from an important book of sect Y (properly referencing it), a questions here is: how does this manifest the problem being discussed in this thread?

One thought here is that as long as an answer is well referenced, to a large extent, these problems could be mitigated and explicit disclaimers of sectarian affiliation becomes secondary (and safely optional; when not misleading, as it has been discussed here).

With that in mind (and if that makes sense), a suggestion here would be to try a more strict policy for answers, requiring them to be properly referenced. Though this is not without it's problems, as it could present a challenge to some kinds of questions (again, if it makes sense, maybe this is a trade off).

Naturally -- and to conclude -- even if our answers improve in the quality of references, there are cases where personal preferences still creep in and twist the meanings [just as logic steps fail] when answering, but I think these could be dealt on a case by case basis in the comments.


I am not sure how to address this but mentioning the traditions becomes very difficult to do when you are sourcing the knowledge from many traditions and sub traditions. Say in the same sentence you are using arguments from tradition X and Y and the sentence that follows is from tradition Z intermingled with ideas from sub tradition S. This might even become more problematic when you are suing argument from tradition X and augmenting it to another context to support an argument from tradition Y when in many major points both tradition X and Y contradict. I feel in this case it is best left to the reader to see if the reasoning is logical to them than mentioning the traditions where both tradition may not accept this argument if you say this half is from X and that half is from Y. Also if you say I am practicing as from tradition X then even some times you use certain facts to justify X but from Y, or using arguments from Y and Z may not be possible if these are not what strictly what X says about them.

Say if you are strictly limited to our arguments from tradition X then it might be OK to say this is from tradition X but if not it might be misrepresenting X if this is not the case. If you sourcing from many places this becomes even more problematic for someone to say I pratice the method of tradition X but most of the logic I use in answering question is from tradition Y, Z, ... (perhaps tradition X is silent about certain topics and maybe focused in certain areas.) Or simply when you say I am from tradition X there is a lot you might have to exclude to be inline and becomes a burden if you are getting your knowledge from multiple sources to mention. Also if you draw much on balance more knowledge from one tradition and you hold out to be from this tradition but you use knowledge from multiple other traditions then everyone will start saying this is not from their tradition. Holding out to be from one tradition unless you are limited to it may create more problems than it solves in this cases. Providing references can sometimes avert this partially when providing references is possible. Also some times you may not be in 100% agreement with the references as it generally reflects or has an element of view of the writer which does not mean you cannot deviate in your logical thinking and understanding.

Also comes the case where you know fact X but not sure which tradition the fact X fits in with.

Also many organised meditation movements or meditation centres have recognised or appointed Kammatthanacariyas (meditation masters) and if you are not one of them if might be wrong to say you represent a particular tradition or viewpoint or imply to make a assertion about a tradition.

Also 90% of the Dhamma you learn cannot be referenced. Say in an urban setting in a country like Sri Lanka (perhaps true for other Buddhist countries also) ...

During the Katina period there is at least 1 Dhamma talk at a temple. There are some temples which have about 3 or in some cases more. Now there are about 3 temples around you. (In my case there are about 7 at walking distance but many more if you were to drive out of which I regularly visit only about 3) You end up listening to 2 or 3 Dhamma talks a week. Many not recorded or transcribed.

Also say there in some the temples there is at least 1 meditation sitting per week. There will be some discussion (before or afterwards) before you get exposed to on average 6 talks from 2 or perhaps more traditions per month which are not in record.

The comes the alms giving (which also has a dhamma talk) and organising of Dhamma talks (night before the alms giving) at friends and families places.

Also the Poya day programs. This will have multiple talks.

Also in many cases you might not know from what tradition the speaker is from. Also some facts you know you do not know definitively which tradition they fit in with.

Time you spend reading about Dhamma and content you get is definitely much less than these sources which are not referenceable. But if you do have readily accessible sources it makes sense to add them.


Hey if someone does not believe that they are indeed believing in the correct path wouldn't it be crazy to say anything that involves that certain belief?

The thing you need to understand is in Buddhism people believe what they believe at the best they can. And different traditions may not get along when it comes to teachings, For example Theravada believes in the existence of "Arahants" and Mahayana does not. But people here get along pretty well and they respect others and their beliefs and still express their own version so that anyone out there can read and learn.

Here's a good example - A chat between a Theravada Buddhist and a Mahayana Buddhist


If you are not Theravada and you feel bad about strong Theravada presence on this site you should get your friends here and spread more of your point of view, there's no point for complaining. I mean we do it.

And please stop putting Labels on things,it only creates boundaries. If you do not have enough presence in this site to say your side of it, Do something about it.

And this should not go without saying that it is not up to you to define how people express their loyalty to their school of Buddhism. Just like the one who writes the one who reads has a brain too, That's why there are comments and votes in this site.

  • 1
    I think Jayarava was worried that an answer which doesn't state a specific sectarian affiliation can be misleading. Just for example, answers like the following could be misleading: "Most Buddhists live in Sri Lanka"; or, "The most popular Buddhist Sutra is the Lotus Sutra, it contains the complete teaching of the Buddha"; or, "There are no Buddhist nuns". In those examples it would be more accurate/informative if answers included their affiliation. In fact in this answer, I too suggested that you could "carefully limit your answer".
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 11:01
  • By the way, Suminda might be hoping that you could answer this question.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 11:03
  • @ChrisW , I see that you have a good point but it is a bit hard for me to understand can you explain a bit more?
    – Theravada
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 16:04
  • I am answering that question right now,thank you for pointing out @ChrisW
    – Theravada
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 16:08

We have to work within the limitations of the stack exchange engine, which was built for software development questions and then later applied to a bewildering variety of topics from cooking to, well, Buddhism.

The tools we have:

  • Tagging. But we can only tag questions.
  • Comments on answers. 'This appears to be an answer from the orthodox SGI viewpoint.' This is actually one of the appropriate uses of comments, to improve an answer.
  • Editing answers. This is most defensible for cleaning up spelling, grammar and so on. If an answer was edited to clarify what orthodox tradition it expanding on, I can't see how that would be controversial, assuming it was written in a respectful tone, e.g. "In orthodox Chinese Buddhism as taught by master so and so, ..."
  • Editing wiki answers. When the author marked their answer as a wiki, it is explicitly inviting people to edit and improve as a collaborative document.

And finally, we can flap our tongues on meta and try to get people to update their profile pages with sectarian affiliations and to mark their answers and questions with what sectarian viewpoint they are speaking from in cases where it adds to the question or reduces the chance of another of these futile discussions that go something like-- "Well, your question is entirely invalid because it concerns themes and topics that are unimportant in my sect"

And another point-- in Buddhism, if you have five sects, you have potentially five different correct answers (relative to the orthodox authorities in each sect!). But the engine is only capable of letting a user mark one answer as "correct". For the better written questions, where the user is asking for an answer from a particular orthodoxy, this is not a problem. But a good percent of our questions come from people not even aware that there is sectarianism in Buddhism (and a certain percent that pretend it doesn't exist or contemptuously dismiss the other sects and Buddhist heterodoxy and charlatanism). SE doesn't have a way to deal with an answer having a surfuit of correct answers (but each only correct in their own orthodox context)


I added this to my Bio:

Also a practitioner of Samatha and Vipassana a form of Buddhist meditation mainly from the Pāli Canon (Theravāda). Also a non sectarian practitioner of Dhamma largely influenced by meditation as taught by S.N.Goenka and writings of Piya Tan, moderately influenced by Ven. Bhante Vimalaramsi and Thanissaro Bhikkhu, mildly influenced by Ven. Mun Bhuridatta, Ajahn Maha Bua, Ajahn Chah, (Thai Forest Traditions) Venerable Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw, Mogok Sayadaw, Ven. Sujiva, Ven. Ñāṇavīra Thera, etc.

Also like to point out that many organised meditation movements or meditation centres have recognised or appointed Kammatthanacariyas (meditation masters) and if you are not one of them if might be wrong to say you represent a particular tradition or viewpoint or imply to make a assertion about a tradition.


The Buddha Dhamma is actually one and it's merely strange to try to secure "my" version or the interpret I tend to.

There are simple tools given by the Buddha, like:

The Four Great References

  1. And there the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Now, bhikkhus, I shall make known to you the four great references. [37] Listen and pay heed to my words." And those bhikkhus answered, saying:

"So be it, Lord."

8-11. Then the Blessed One said: "In this fashion, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu might speak: 'Face to face with the Blessed One, brethren, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation'; or: 'In an abode of such and such a name lives a community with elders and a chief. Face to face with that community, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation'; or: 'In an abode of such and such a name live several bhikkhus who are elders, who are learned, who have accomplished their course, who are preservers of the Dhamma, the Discipline, and the Summaries. Face to face with those elders, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation'; or: 'In an abode of such and such a name lives a single bhikkhu who is an elder, who is learned, who has accomplished his course, who is a preserver of the Dhamma, the Discipline, and the Summaries. Face to face with that elder, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation.'

"In such a case, bhikkhus, the declaration of such a bhikkhu is neither to be received with approval nor with scorn. Without approval and without scorn, but carefully studying the sentences word by word, one should trace them in the Discourses and verify them by the Discipline. If they are neither traceable in the Discourses nor verifiable by the Discipline, one must conclude thus: 'Certainly, this is not the Blessed One's utterance; this has been misunderstood by that bhikkhu — or by that community, or by those elders, or by that elder.' In that way, bhikkhus, you should reject it. But if the sentences concerned are traceable in the Discourses and verifiable by the Discipline, then one must conclude thus: 'Certainly, this is the Blessed One's utterance; this has been well understood by that bhikkhu — or by that community, or by those elders, or by that elder.' And in that way, bhikkhus, you may accept it on the first, second, third, or fourth reference. These, bhikkhus, are the four great references for you to preserve."

To tell that this sect has this opinion, there are this folklorics usual... should be no problem. But to divide the Dhamma is actually a problem. As the Buddha has been open as well: 'try to give it a challenge', and as the Buddha was not a little open to: 'putting Adhamma under his label, under his name' So its good to put aside all kinds of afflictions aside of getting deeper of what the Buddha actually taught and natural that there are people who misinterpret, might they have good and a lot reputations, might they have a big following or not.

And its certainly a task for any kind of disciple or someone who likes to know, to find out and also rebuke, of what actually has not been sad by the Buddha.

Forest is good for awakening and no way in any kind of breeding form.


Isn't this already addressed implicitly by users voting answers up and down? Since the Buddha himself practised and advocated consensus, won't consensually acceptable answers automatically rise to the top? (I myself experienced this recently when a respondent commented on my answer asking why I didn't give the correct answer that they gave rather than agreeing with the majority?) In this case, shouldn't we just encourage use of the existing voting mechanism?

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