I made two edits to this answer: What exactly is svabhava?.

The OP doesn't like these edits and wants them rolled back.

Are the edits justified? I made them because someone complained about the answer, found it offensive.

I made two edits:

  • Remove "lamaism" (and call it "Tibetan Buddhism" instead)
  • Remove complaints about other schools

Were these good (justifiable) edits, and/or can you suggest any better edit?

I also edited this answer: Lack of objective thinking in Buddhist practitionners

Again the edits were to remove some criticism of a school or of teachers.

  • I do not think my answer(s) needed any editing. Why don't you check the complaint is it justifiable? Lamaism was a term used by German/British scholar, I just borrowed it. I can check their/his books and add it to my original post. The complainer has already downvoted all my posts which disagree to her personal devotion, must everyone praise her lineage to please and satisfy her? Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 0:22
  • As I have explained many times, I do not disagree with (only some of) your posts out of personal devotion. I disagree because I think you are not being nice. I think you are denigrating specific individuals and not the positions they are maintaining (ad hominem).
    – user13375
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 1:38

3 Answers 3


I believe the answer in question has the following problems:

  1. The usage of the term Lamaism in this context is perjorative. It is very clear that the author has little respect for Tibetan Buddhist traditions. The author has suggested in other comments that Tibetan Buddhism is inauthentic, relies upon inauthentic Sutras, and has led others astray. As such, the term Lamaism here is clearly meant as a perjorative. Evidence:

    • See here where it was suggested I read authentic Sutras.
    • It was also suggested (repeatedly) in another comment thread that I do not take refuge in the Triple Gem or that the refuge of Tibetan Buddhists is somehow inauthentic.
    • See here where the author describes looking at His Holiness the Dalai Lama and finding him insufficiently "clean" ... again, for no explicable reason.
  2. Inexplicable ad hominem criticism of Jay Garfield which does not further the answer to the question in any way. To be very clear, I have no problem with the idea that the author disagrees with some translation done by Jay Garfield. What I don't understand is why add ad hominem and not explain what the actual disagreement is about? For instance, the author could cite specific verse(s) of the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā and disagree with Garfield's translation and give reasoning or an alternative translation. The author does not do this.

  3. Inexplicable ad hominem criticism of Je Tsongkhapa and tantric practice in general. I am left no clearer after reading this answer in what way the author disagrees with Je Tsongkhapa... only that the author disagrees and does not think highly of tantric practice. Again, the inclusion of this ad hominem does nothing to further understanding or answer the question of the post: "What exactly is svabhava?"

  4. Inexplicable ad hominem criticism of Thich Nhat Hanh and his interpretation of the Heart Sutra. Again, no one is left any richer in understanding for having read this part except to understand that the author has some unexplained disagreement. And that while Thich Nhat Hanh's understanding only rises to the level of Śrāvaka the author implicitly claims self-understanding equivalent to a Buddha.

  5. The original answer has language like this, "Those who incessantly libeling the Mahayana Sutras, pity are they misled by their teachers or traditions." with the implicit suggestion that the inexplicable ad hominems above are examples of such libelous behavior. The author goes on to warn these individuals have, "severed the root of Prajna-paramita rendered these people the Icchantikas warned by the Buddha."

I think the above is inimical to a site endeavoring to foster dialogue and mutual understanding/respect among the various Buddhist traditions. Speaking personally, I'm actually quite curious what are the actual disagreements (with doctrine, not people) between the author and Tibetan Buddhist practice.

I hope the author can take this as constructive criticism so that I might be able to learn - in a respectful setting - what those actual disagreements are with the hope that it might be beneficial to my mind and to others.

  • I'm afraid running out of time to engage this dialogue with you, dear Ms Yeshe Tenley. I'm not with the time to go through all those with you, with the fact you didn't read, if not all, most of the related texts. Perhaps you ask yourself why you in the mood of disagreeing every single point of my post (s) and found them disrespectful? If you don't mind, pls list a few key Mahayana Sutras you read so that I know the base of your standing point better? It will go that I'm afraid most of Sutras even you read with questionable Eng translations however... Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 2:38
  • 1
    You are once again being patronizing and not nice: buddhism.stackexchange.com/help/be-nice
    – user13375
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 2:42
  • Please list few key Mahayana Sutras you studied so that there is some base to begin with... I ask 2nd time Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 3:02
  • base to begin what?
    – user13375
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 3:06
  • I based my understanding on studying Buddha Sutras, which is the correct way. Shouldn't any practitioner study Sutras? Is it so hard to list? I studied Mahayamaka the Sastra of Nagarjuna, Prajna Paramita Sutra... Lotus, Perfection of Enlightenment, Lankavatara (just read once)... etc. Yours? Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 3:11
  • Oh, I read Tibetan Book of Death (not Buddha Sutra!!! Pls don't confuse it). Some songs of 6th Dalai Lama and Mirepa... some quoted texts from Je TKP, full Karika of "Lamp of Bodhi Path", chapter 10, 1, 2 of Jay Garfield I was intending to read all but it's not worth the time I discerned (his questionable understanding everywhere easy to identify for readers and related to my post was chp 2, the "four correlative causes", pls read yourself)... Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 3:18
  • 1
    Your repeated comments are completely orthogonal to this post which is about your inexplicable ad hominem. As I said, I'm actually curious if you have real disagreement with any doctrine rather than persons. However, this comment thread is not the place to figure that out. Please note your behavior: calling into question my refuge vows, patronizing suggestions that I read authentic sutras (where you have no idea what I have or have not read), and demeaning my teachers for no reason. I have done none of that to you.
    – user13375
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 3:25
  • Yes, Madam Yeshe Tenley, you are right to see it this way if you like. All the best. I have no more time for it, excuse me. Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 5:00
  • "Ad hominem" literally means attacking the author instead of attacking the work, or attacking the work by attacking the author -- for example, "Jay is stupid (therefore his interpretation may be ignored)". IMO Mishu criticised the work (i.e. " Garfield's understanding of the Catvārah-pratyayāh is questionable" and "Thich Nhat Hanh though a respectable teacher I respected, his interpretation of Heart Sutra as quoted in this post is questionable"). ...
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 11:31
  • ... I agree it's not specific, constructive criticism. But merely mentioning the name of the author doesn't make the criticism "ad hominem".
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 11:32
  • Thanks @ChrisW I will open a new question about whether non-constructive criticism which does not further factual knowledge should be accepted regarding public individuals and their works. Anyway, I accept that your definition governs for purpose of this question.
    – user13375
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 15:56
  • @ChrisW It's impossible to extend all explanations to all such as JG or anyone that not directly related to the main topic of that OP...[hundred words omitted]... I think you got what I meant Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 16:35
  • I also don't see any benefit in saying things are wrong if one does not care to explain the disagreeable positions in detail. I think such posts should be flagged as low quality, it's all argumentation without evidence, even if the argument is correct judgement should remain suspended without evidence examination. Aisi such answers are incomplete and to that extent useless to the questioneer.
    – user8527
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 9:27

I try to prevent users disparaging Mahayana Sutras -- similarly I'd ask you to refrain from being rude about schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

And I think that some people (practitioners or students of of Tibetan Buddhism) find "lamaism" a derogatory term -- so better use a different name instead (e.g. "Tibetan Buddhism" or "Vajrayana", or perhaps the names of specific schools).

Similarly people probably ought to avoid using "Hinayana" on this site -- using that word causes complaints from users.

The fact that the word "lamaism" used to be used by Western scholars isn't enough. There are several words in English, which used to be common or which were used historically, but which are now considered derogatory (some so offensive that they're now taboo, I'm reluctant to quote them as an example)!


Westerners unfamiliar with Tibetan Buddhism initially turned to China for an understanding. There the term used was "lamaism" (literally, "doctrine of the lamas": lama jiao) to distinguish it from a then-traditional Chinese form (fo jiao). The term was taken up by western scholars including Hegel, as early as 1822.[3] Insofar as it implies a discontinuity between Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, the term has been discredited.[4]

Another term, "Vajrayāna" is occasionally used mistakenly for Tibetan Buddhism. More accurately, it signifies a certain subset of practices included in, not only Tibetan Buddhism, but other forms of Buddhism as well.

Anyway, "lamaism" just one word. It's seems to me it should be easy to substitute a different name that's not offensive to practitioners, e.g. a name which they use to describe themselves.

And in general maybe this site doesn't necessarily welcome "real criticism" -- especially your criticism of other schools. Instead maybe it's better to explain what's good about Chinese Mahayana, and refrain from saying what's bad about people who use the Pali Canon (e.g. that they're blinkered because they disregard the Chinese which is 85% of the canon), and/or bad about forms of Tibetan Buddhism.

I don't want to delete your whole answer. I think I ought to remove any little bits which are nothing but complaints or criticisms of other schools.

So I'll ask you not to criticise an entire school (and/or another user) in your answer: if you can do that then I'll feel no obligation to edit your answer. Note that about half of the policies listed in the FAQ index (summary of site policies) are in the section titled "Minimizing controversy", designed to minimize friction between different schools. You don't want to spend too much time handling the response to criticism ... and neither do I! so I recommend you try to minimise (or avoid altogether) criticising other schools.

I think it's useful and normal though, to be able to criticise specific teachers' teachings or translations -- e.g. "I don't like X's translation of that word". So:

  • Not really acceptable: "I don't like Jay Garfield"

  • Acceptable: "I don't like Jay Garfield's explanation of the Abhidhamma" or "I don't like Thich Nhat Hanh's interpretation of the Heart Sutra".

    This latter would be better, though, if you also said what explanation of the Abhidhamma you do like. Otherwise it's just criticism, not constructive criticism (it's saying something's bad without explaining or referencing what's better), so perhaps not really useful or helpful.

  • Oh, dear @ChrisW, isn't Buddhism SE a professional (quite) forum somehow? How can one keep saying, "I don't like this, I don't like that"? Who care what you like? Are readers not wanting answers that for content, then opinion, or personal taste? How do you find "JG's explanation is questionable" vs "I don't like JG"? I can't do a self-molestation to pretending cute, or you think I should? I know you are very nice moderator, but a penetrating word may help to advance the intellectual exchange Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 14:22
  • I'm going to conclude all these posts in question within one or two days. I don't like something unfinished to hang around for too long. Either I edit myself, or delete if my edit keep being re-edited by others... or etc. I didn't see there's any suggestion of edit input from the complainer, except keeping repeating her ad hominem criticism, neither she responded to my one little request about if there's any Sutra she read. She was just to express unhappy!!! Honestly, there's nothing wrong with my pre-edited posts - speaking from fairness and sound mind. I'm extending my patience -- Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 14:50
  • I accepted your finding "questionable" the works of specific translators. That criticism might be more constructive if you'd propose or reference better translations, but OK. I'm asking you not to be rude about whole schools ... maybe you find professionals who right like that (e.g. "the positive nature of the Buddhism has been entirely buried underneath of the Lamaism") ... but I don't think they can write like that here, on this site.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 16:22
  • I don't have more to say about it. Maybe another user or another moderator will (have more to say about it).
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 16:22
  • There's another, related, topic here: Should the site accept non-constructive criticism of individuals or their works?
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 17:47
  • ----> refer to my last comment to you on Yeshe Tenley's post Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 16:37

I don't mind to delete the post, readers. Lamaism was in fact employed intentionally to differentiate Tibetan Buddhism from its corrupted version. Historically there was a sect called Jonang in Tibetan Buddhism that abiding the Buddha Teaching, but destroyed by the previous Dalai Lama (5th). Many Tibetan Buddhists masters not all agreed with Je Tsongkhapa, but put down when his sect gained the ruling power... the Gelug sect. Please read the history yourself.

Lamaism was a term rented from the German/British scholars, list a few here:

1. Matthisa Hermanns,

"...the positive nature of the Buddhism has been entirely buried underneath of the Lamaism..."

-- Das Nationalepos der Tibeter, Gling Koenig Ge Sar, Regensburg (1965)

2. Hegel (yes, that "dialectic" German philosopher),

"...Far East (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Lamaism), the Near East (Persian, Egyptian, and Jewish religions), and the West (Greek and Roman religions)..."

-- Hegel: Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, Volume I (Manuscripts of the Introduction and the Lectures of 1822-1823)

3. L. Austine Waddell,

"Lamaism," Prof. Waddell opines, "is only thinly and imperfectly varnished over with Buddhist symbolism, beneath which the sinister growth of poly-demonist superstition darkly appears."

-- The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism with its mystic cults, symbolism and mythology, and in its relation to Indian Buddhism

[In his opinion, there are two primary sources for the demonic dimension lurking in Lamaism: it originates in part from the primitive paganism of Bon, and in part from Indian Tantrism. (p. xi & pp. 29-30)]

I in fact was acting out of minimizing the critique not quoting those books, also probably going too extensive from the OP's question, to just use Lamaism, so that Tibetan Buddhism as a whole was not mixed in. There are some Tibetan teachers I admire, such as Tsultrim Lodrö (I watched some of his youtubes), Lama Kyabje Thubten Zopa Rinpoche (just by his face, same method I used when discerning Dalai Lama), Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche... also some historical ones. IMHO, Chogyam Trungpa could be a victim of his own "crazy wisdom", very unfortunate.

This complainer seems misunderstood the whole picture but directed by emotion from devotion turned sour... Again, I am having no problem to delete my post. In fact I will delete any of my post if anyone insisted I must edit it to a condition I myself found unacceptable/dislike, incl. that post on Svabhava. Sometimes I delete a post if I sensed the audiences not right; or some snapped the useful parts which helped them understood certain concept, or the Mahayana explanations were better than their own, but keep on libeling/disparaging Mahayana tradition; such as saying Lotus Sutra are fake, Heart Sutra fake, Perfect Enlightenment Sutra fake... except Pali Canon is Buddhavacana, Mahayana was a later collective creation work, etc. The more I read in this forum or elsewhere, the more I found that perhaps the libeling/disparaging partly due to the mixed in of Lamaism claimed Mahayana Tibetan Buddhism, such as many so-called deity-worshiping, of Heruka, Palden Lhamo... etc. or mistaking Tantric sexual yoga as one of or the only real Mahayana meditation practices...

For the complainer, you may read Trimondi, and learn about it yourself to see if you can justify your complaints at the first place.


What is a real criticism @ChrisW, of your HHDL @Yeshe Tenley? Please read James Snell from Huffington. My one line on Dalai or comment on the quoted of his words was over-praised by you two a legitimate criticism, really. No?

It's easier to write here than in the comment -

Dear @Yeshe Tenley, you have a fine brain, with vivid personality also very honest you speak your mind, I like people your type. I hope the disagreements didn't inflict stupid negative feeling between you and me, that would be very silly. To avoid messing up more misunderstandings in being disagree, let me put things a bit clear:

  1. Lamaism, I know it's bad term, I used it with good intention. I don't have bad impression towards Tibetan Buddhism as a whole. My initial introduction to Buddhism was via a Tibetan "shifu" - meant teacher-father you called "guru" I think. I learnt a lot from him, mostly in terms of meditation, Great Prostration, healing, and Dharma on ethical life... etc. That was the only teacher I ever called teacher. I'm not belonging to any lineage, nor I see myself going to subscribe to any. I only abide to the Dharma, that is the authentic Buddha Sutras. So when I used Lamaism, I was thinking in my mind to avoid mixed in Tibetan Buddhism as a whole. I only dislike the corrupted version of Tibetan Buddhism, which I thought that's the part called Lamaism. But it seems you guys' understanding just the opposite. I in fact was thinking in the Svabhava post if I used Tibetan Tantra Buddhism would be mixing in all the sects because Tantra has many meanings as I understood, so I thought using Tantra Lamaism was more specific it would refer to just the corrupted part of Tibetan Buddhism. (There are corrupted sects in Mahayana Chinese lineage too, like Nichiren was from the Lotus sect). Let me think of a better way to write it clearer... I don't think we have real conflict in this issue, the only problem is misunderstanding.

  2. HHDL, I don't like him. Yeah, just silly dislike someone's face. That is my problem. I admitted I was innocent/naive even in my answer of that post now in discussion. But I think the way I wrote was half joking, don't you think sometimes taking things lightly is cool? Even after I read your deleted quote of Zopa Rinpoche, I like him, even I disagree with his teaching in that quote. IMO Zopa Rinpoche is a very honest man, he speaks his mind. I have good impression of @Tenzin Dorje (I like the cartoon picture of his profile), I had no idea he is of which lineage or taking what role, he is an amicable user in forum and I remembered there was a post by Theravadin user disparaging Lotus Sutra he wrote very professional comment to refute, using very technical terminologies, impressed!

  3. I have very vague or even confused idea of who refer to which lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. I read some historical masters' works or lines sometimes, I just take up anything that's useful for me. So your thinking I against you or your teachers or your lineage is a misunderstanding.

  4. Due to my personal experience and benefiting from the Buddha Dharma therefore I'm a bit taking it personal if I read something that to my understanding distorting the Buddha's teaching. I think I tried to explain what I understood as correct but due to the texts we based it's likely you can't get my point.

Therefore I don't think there any real issue between you and me, or those posts. The only issue perhaps is just misunderstanding. If you read the Buddha Sutras, many places praise the importance of "noble Dharma friends" (善知識) helping each other along the path. Regards.

  • Thank you for taking the time to reply. I posted an answer here.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 9:12
  • Thank you for making clear your motivation: disparaging the Gelug tradition of Buddhism in order to defend your own tradition from followers of the Pali Canon. This is informative. "demonic dimension lurking in Lamaism" -> I think the word 'perjorative' for what you are communicating here is perhaps too gentle. As for your inclination to judge people upon their appearance, I'll just note that the Tibetan you admire is a devoted follower and student of the Tibetan you don't admire.
    – user13375
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 18:40
  • I flagged this for the continued usage and doubling down on the perjorative of "lamaism" as well as a link to what is essentially a hate site.
    – user13375
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 18:55
  • I researched "Trimondi" a bit. There's an article about the authors on the French and German versions of Wikipedia, with some criticism of their work. There are reviews/comments about it here on Dharmawheel.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 19:41
  • I found this meta-topic (so don't call it "Lamaism" on this site) -- Is Lamaism derogatory or neutral?
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 19:54
  • 1
    @YesheTenley I cleared the flag without deleting this answer: because the purpose of Meta is to propose and discuss site policy, and users cannot assess (e.g. agree or disagree) with Mishu's answer if the answer is flagged/moderated/deleted.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 23:11
  • The author continues to slander Tibetan Buddhism gratuitously: buddhism.stackexchange.com/a/26170/13375
    – user13375
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 16:26
  • I'll also note that the hate site linked above slanders Buddhism in general including the Theravada and that it is used by the Chinese government as propaganda in its political struggle with the Tibetan community in exhile.
    – user13375
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 17:04
  • I also just found this answer where @Mishu 米殊 is passing along another piece of propaganda by the Chinese government that is widely rejected by Tibetan Buddhists: buddhism.stackexchange.com/a/23989/13375
    – user13375
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 17:07
  • See my added the last section @YesheTenley Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 16:27
  • @Mishu米殊 is once again denigrating Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhism. This time she has called them barbarians in order to denigrate Tantric teachings and Tantric teachers: buddhism.stackexchange.com/a/26363/13375
    – user13375
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 13:17

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