4

As an eclectic universalist one of the things that attracted me to this forum is its apparent embrace of all Buddhist schools and all points of view without discrimination. However, after participating in the forum for some time it has become apparent to me that some Theravadins in this group seem to take upon themselves the notion that only their school is valid and all others are false, and consistently answer questions that are not about Theravada from a Theravadin perspective, and then comment on or otherwise disparage any other point of view as non-Buddhist, when it is simply non-Theravadin.

I am also seeing the same individual or individuals consistently responding to certain posts in a hostile or derogatory way, which makes me wonder if they are also following non-Theravadins with the intention of harassment. Their consistent answer to any questioning or challenge to this form of sectarian dogmatism (prohibited by the Buddha, BTW) is simply to say, "Theravada says this. Anything else is not accepted by Theravada," as though that response were sufficient. I see this as a great danger to the integrity of this forum, since it amounts to a form of verbal guerilla warfare that has the potential to drive non-Theravadins away, which is perhaps the intention, thus converting the forum to a Theravadin forum. What is the policy of this forum toward these individuals?

  • I have decided that here is not appropriate for me to make any question or answer. As a fully-accomplished master of the Mahajrya tradition, I expected there to be at most polite disagreement in a forum dedicated to Buddhism, as it is with similar sites. But there is little politeness or even correct discipline here. Downvoting is a matter of agreement, rather than scholarship. Alternate viewpoints are completely unwelcomed. Criticism is received as if it's a personal attack. It is given in the same light. Dogma rules here. And so I'm out. Have a nice life, folks. – Vishwa Jay Nov 29 '16 at 8:20
  • Just for the perspective, here are a few posts from Christianity S.E struggling with similar issues: Christianity.SE vs. Survivor, and also Brothers, we are not christians! and how to handle comment trolls – Thiago Dec 1 '16 at 7:50
4

What is the policy of this forum toward these individuals?

I think the policy has been to tolerate or welcome such a statement.

Consider this interchange from 2015 (in which Sankha is Theravada, and Andrei Mahayana):

  • 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♦

One of the reasons I find it easy to tolerate is that Sankha says such a thing only when he's prompted to, by other people commenting on his answers: e.g. here the 'provocation' is Lanka telling him to say that his answer is "based in Theravada Buddhism", and here it was you saying, "Theravada Buddhism is just one school of Buddhism; it is not Buddhism".

If you're allowed to define what Buddhism is, I think Sankha is too!

Such a comment might easily be seen as hostile, if he were to go out of this way to post it under someone else's answer, but he doesn't: it's an explanation of his own answer.

Actually I find it admirable (and helpful): explaining his own perspective, without attacking other people's answers.

As moderator I will generally sympathise with the author of an answer. If the author of an answer flags a comment (as hostile or not constructive) then I'm inclined to delete the comment. Thus you can post answers, and I'll help to protect your answers and end any unwanted arguments about them. Similarly Sankha is welcome to post answers too.

One of the things that avoids "verbal guerilla warfare" is the emphasis on Q&A, i.e. the emphasis on people writing their own answers. You can ask use comments to ask people to clarify their answers, but comments may be deleted if they don't improve the answer.

Generally it's the author of each answer who's allowed the last word.

consistently answer questions that are not about Theravada from a Theravadin perspective

The convention we've established on this site is to use school-specific tags. For example if you use a school-specific tag (, , , , , etc.) then only answers from that school are on-topic.

Using such a tag might signal that you don't want Theravada answers to your question.

It might be unusual to do that, though, when you're asking a question about Pali texts. Given that you are asking about Pali texts I think it's easy to see how someone might think you were interested in a Theravada perspective.

If you don't use such a tag, that's a signal you're inviting answers from any/all schools.

I hope this meta-answer helps. I suppose that a purpose of using tags is to let people post questions without getting hostile answers, and moderating comments is to let people post answers without getting hostile comments.

  • How do I respond directly to a moderator in private rather than in public? – user4970 Nov 27 '16 at 1:52
  • Consummatum est. – user4970 Nov 27 '16 at 20:07
  • The moment I had the ability to create a tag, I was downvoted out of it with -12 votes with something that was a core teaching of my tradition. It's all dogma and competition, here. So, I'm leaving. (Reiterating in case it's not clear above). – Vishwa Jay Nov 29 '16 at 8:23
  • @VishwaJay I'm sorry I didn't have time to answer your question, and to moderate if that was necessary -- I've been busy because I've had guests to stay for a few days. – ChrisW Nov 29 '16 at 8:43
  • I understand. the shortcoming isn't merely a personal matter of your moderation, but of lacking application of Buddhist discipline on the part of the community here. I don't blame you for any lack on the part of the group. It's just not fruitful for me to try to have a discussion with people who can't comprehend what I've spoken about other places because of a lack of such discipline. Maybe I'll be back. Maybe I won't. But for now, it's not productive. – Vishwa Jay Nov 29 '16 at 20:41
  • @VishwaJay are you referring to this question? If it is, while it's clear people objected to it's contents (and whether they should or not is a discussion for this thread), I think it's a problem to expect users on this site to assume there is a school named Mahajrya which teach in the way you put it -- you must clarify. Also, the downvotes were not explained. Not all of them were a rejection of your school (I downvoted for seeing it was intended to "exercise"). – Thiago Dec 1 '16 at 3:57
4

Is this a Buddhist forum or is this a Theravadin forum?

Let me say this very clearly.

This is a forum about Buddhism meaning that all affiliations are welcome.

1

Notice that there's the fact of the bias of the user population. Many traditions here are under represented, if at all (e.g. it's a rare thing to see a Zen thread or Shin). Not because at some point in history there was a schism -- actually, there were discussions in the past on how to bring more diversity. However, some individuals that came later from non-theravada traditions did face difficulties.

Then, many are dissatisfied when they come here and realize not all users are so open-minded about different forms of Buddhism. But some users may not even know there are other traditions with teachings that seem strange to them.

Furthermore, one might say that the Buddha rejected dogmatism, but at the same time, there are a number of examples from buddhist scriptures of people being corrected (by the Buddha or his disciples) after showing their understanding was incorrect and being warned to not misrepresent what the Buddha taught. Then, it's not difficult to see how people see this as a tempting authorization to do the same (or even to go out of their ways to do it).

Even though the community has stated that different buddhist traditions are welcomed, these problems seem to be raised from time to time. Though it's not that common (perhaps once a year?), some of them can be an actual problem and off putting to many. Is it something that needs change? Any suggestions?

You must log in to answer this question.