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This question -- What are the historical accounts on Buddhist scriptures that certify the authenticity of the teachings and traditions? -- should it be reopened?

I think perhaps not, for these reasons.


The title is a big change, now asking about "what historical accounts?" whereas the original question was about "Buddhists themselves" and "Buddhism as a system".

I think it's a better question now, but maybe not the question which the OP was asking.

Shall we reopen it anyway, though?


The question may invite answers of the form "stupid people of other school X don't recognise our school Y, whereas our scriptures clearly...".

I think I'd prefer the question be asked about (and answered by) a specific school -- or country -- e.g., "How does Buddhism in Sri Lanka...?" and "How does Buddhism in China...?" and so on.

That was my original objection: i.e., asserting that there are sectarian splits, and then asking "Buddhism as a system" to justify itself.


The additional paragraph, which defines what's meant by "Buddhism as a system", now reads:

... this way we can discern what teaching ...

I think that's better and more answerable -- it might now be asking a personal question, which invites answers like, "what I do to investigate is..." -- instead of, "speaking on behalf of Buddhism-as-a-system, Buddhism says that..." (which is contradicted by the premise, i.e. that different Buddhists say different things and thus perhaps aren't trustworthy).

The second added paragraph,

... many articles discussing, or discrediting the authenticity of some Sutras/Suttas and doctrines ...

... happens to be a recurring interest of Mishu's, I think, however:

  • That's maybe not on-topic here -- see "Broad comparisons" in Moderation policies for Questions ...

    we don't support questions which ask for broad comparisons between different approaches and traditions

    ... i.e. it's a subject for "disccussion" perhaps

  • That's maybe not what the OP asking.

I read the question as, "You Buddhists contradict each other, and what the Buddha said wasn't written ... so Buddhism as a system can't claim any truth." IOW it was rhetorical and hostile.

  • I can see why the question might not be appropriate. On the other hand it is also very important. The way you phrase it in the final sentence would be exactly my objection to Buddhism if I doubted its teachings. The question is answerable, but only by assuming that some schools teach an incorrect doctrine. I'm not sure how this topic can be raised without causing offense but do think it an important issue for discussion. . . – PeterJ Dec 12 '18 at 10:33
  • Indeed. I think our policy though is a) avoid topics that can be only be discussed, to which there is no answer b) avoid topics which invite inter-school put-downs and grudges and misunderstandings of each other and so on c) prefer (though don't require) "personal practice" questions (like "can you help me with this?" not "let's debate about such-and-such here for other people's benefit" d) if we are being trolled at all even then maybe better not. – ChrisW Dec 12 '18 at 10:38
  • Also if you edit an OP's question try to ensure it's still the question which the OP wanted to ask. I'm no longer sure that's so. I actually now see it slanted towards what I know to be one of Mishu's interest. I guess if the OP posted to say "thanks for editing to improve the question, yes that is what I wanted to ask" then this objection/reservation wouldn't apply. – ChrisW Dec 12 '18 at 10:41
  • I see it's a tricky problem. Not sure of the solution. – PeterJ Dec 12 '18 at 10:45
  • This is why I use a day or more per question. I have to relate every Sutta together to avoid quoting Atthakatha or Abhidhamma because if I quote Atthakatha, they will set the bias immediately "the answer is wrong". Why one is wrong by people who never learn about the one. Actually, I want to make a short answer like the others, but the answer has to be long and longer in more complicated Sutta without Abhidhamma and Atthakatha. – Bonn Jan 25 at 18:00
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    @Bonn If someone comments that the Abhidhamma is wrong or off-topic, please feel free to flag their comment for a moderator to delete it. It's worth trying to adjust the detail in your answer to match what the OP (who asked the question) will understand, but you can't (and shouldn't have to) always conform to the biases of every other reader. – ChrisW Feb 2 at 21:11
  • Thank you for your understanding. I wrote on this topic to leave the note of the reason of what I am doing. However, I still have to do it because there are very few people can be patient to help or cope with the bias people like I can, while the unbiased people have many choices to learn the truth. Even the unbiased people don't like my acting they still read my answer because they are honest with the quotes of evidence. By this way, I can help both bias&unbias people. It makes me look unworthy&crazy at the moment I debate with them, but the worthy effects will appear when the time gone by. – Bonn Feb 3 at 5:56
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I am made to response instead of taking the easy way to ignore.

I'm sorry to drag you into this if it's a waste of your time.

While you read it as rhetorical and hostile, my impression is that the OP is confused and frustrated.

That's possible.

They haven't replied to any of the comment?

Their profile says, "I dont want your opinion,,,iam what iam i dont need to be what you want me to be iam free to be what i want;)"

They posted one question (not very 'well') in several sites, perhaps just experimenting?

Shouldn't the forum assumed any new user come here to ask or answer question is at least interested in Buddhism?

Usually yes. I read the question as being rhetorical ("my mind is already made up"), and hostile -- the question, not the user.

I'm also worried that if I read the question as having that tone, then (other people's answers) might reply to that same tone -- "Of course Buddhism as a system can claim to be true! How dare anyone etc.?" -- "No it's not" -- "Yes it is" -- etc.

I didn't want to have to moderate that.

If a new user gets the impression "Buddhists contradict each other" because s/he did write ... What could be the cause?

Because they do sometimes, maybe. I don't know that the OP is interested in the provenance of the various texts, though, however interesting that may be to other people -- it changes the focus of the question, does make it more answerable, but I'm not sure it's the OP's question any more.

If that is of interest it would be better to be more specific, IMO, e.g. "What's the history of the Chinese texts...?, "... of the Pali canon?", "... of the texts used in Vietnam?", etc.

It is my interest, but is it wrong or improper?

I don't know if it's 'wrong' in an absolutely sense, but is perhaps a topic we try to avoid on this site. E.g. we try to avoid ...

  • Discussion not answers
  • Inter-school hostility

... and therefore questions which may attract that kind of reply.

Is it possible to ask a question, to which, Buddhism-as-a-system is best represented by the Chinese Mahayana -- Theravada are wrong because they don't acknowledge the perfectly-good Chinese texts -- and the Tibetans are wrong for some other reason (e.g. they're corrupted by Hindu texts) would not be an on-topic answer?

I exaggerate, but that kind of question ("Broad comparison") is defined as off-topic on this site for that kind of reason.

I think we try to avoid questions, to which an answer like that would be an answer to that question.

Like this one: "What is the basis of Lotus Sutta with respect to original Tipitaka?"

I downvoted that question at the time (I guess I was worried about it, I don't remember), but didn't close it (thought it was a question someone might reasonably and innocently and even usefully ask).

If you think the answers/comments are a problem, maybe it should have been closed sooner.

I try to read everything that's posted, but usually don't re-read old posts.

If you want me to moderate something then maybe 'flag' it for my attention. I haven't re-read those comments but a Search doesn't find the word "disgusting" on that page. Should I re-read (try to moderate) that whole page in detail?

the answers being voted up only reflected this forum is made up with and for certain sect

That (i.e. the way in which other people vote) is something I can do nothing about. If you find that (i.e. the way in which people choose to vote) offensive, perhaps that indicates that the question shouldn't be asked.

Maybe (perhaps very probably) that question should be tagged so that only answers from a Mahayana perspective would be on-topic.

I know even less less about Mahayana than I do about the Pali canon though, so, I'm not expert at moderating the content of questions about Mahayana.

This question has been sitting there for more than 15 months, without any moderator intervention.

If it's a problem perhaps post on Meta -- ask a question about it and/or propose a solution.

I just picked the one float up on the front page, there are surely more.

Thanks for the "heads-up".

I deleted the new answer which bumped it to the top of the Active view.

I have a lot of (other) work at the moment and am not following the news here as closely as usual.

Ideally "the community" (e.g. you) will tell moderators (e.g. me) if something needs a moderator's attention.

The fact that there's one 'bad' topic on the site doesn't mean we want another, though, though I apologise that moderation isn't perfectly consistent (also apologise that moderation is even needed).

And it ought to be, because any edition to cover a fact is "an offence of false speech"

I'm not sure.

"Lying" isn't simply "remaining silent", instead it's actively making an effort (producing words in order) to deceive.

And the definition of "right speech" that I've read is that, when words are disagreeable, "the Tathagata has a sense of the proper time to say them" -- and IMO the Community very clearly and nearly unanimously requested that this site should considered (and moderated) as not a place for inter-school hostility.

Reading few dated posts I infer this forum was initially started by a Theravadin Bhikkhu and few associated ones. I can understand that it's perhaps not in their intention to let Mahayana being a more interesting subject.

I don't think so: e.g. AndreiVolkov was and remains one of the original moderators and not a Theravadin Bhikkhu -- and I think chosen partly because he's not Theravadin.

Many early topics on Meta (about site policy) were about how to let schools co-exist on one site while minimising (perhaps some inevitable though regrettable) friction.

Many of the topics are about that, summarised in the "Minimizing controversy" section of the FAQ Index.

FYI I think that bikkhu left this site because he found controversy not worth-while.

But it doesn't want to use Theravada Buddhism, or simply Pali Canon because it wants bigger audience to boost its existence, so it has to call in the Mahayana.

I think "we" want the site to be a helpful, not-hostile resource for people (especially, people on the internet) with questions -- including questions about Mahayana.

Certainly I asked some myself.

It's difficult for me to ask more questions (because I don't know what to ask, and have limited time for study -- partly because moderation takes so many hours!) but I like to read other people's questions (and the answers).

Also I try to answer easy questions about the Pali canon so that other people (more expert) have more time for more difficult questions. I can't answer questions about Mahayana though, so I hope there are (and will remain) other people on the site who can and are willing.

How can Theravada represent Buddhism if they accept Lotus Sutra, or Nagarjuna?

I will stop, at this point.

But that is exactly the reason why I closed the OP's question -- i.e. because to answer it required somebody to represent "Buddhism-as-a-system", without being "a Buddhist" who some other Buddhists might disagree with.

  • I think, perhaps you fit for being a politician too. You are good at re-wiring the concerns to another topics ;). Or perhaps your subject training in physics makes it less prompt for understanding meaning of words than equations? It seems you expanded to even bigger myriad of sub-divisions. I didn't check the OP's profile, good job. But I don't think we should judge people by his tagline, or his activities, especially it's just a forum, not crime scene. And Stack Exchange left the space for editing. The quality of answer doesn't determine by quality of question, isn't it? That's it, good day. – Mishu 米殊 Dec 13 '18 at 7:52
  • Yes my people-skills are certainly questionable (and that is generally, not only in this answer). :-) Thank you for editing it, but I'm still not convinced the OP's question should be reopened. Perhaps someone else ... Anyway: a very good day to you, too. :-) – ChrisW Dec 13 '18 at 8:00
  • The quality of answer doesn't determine by quality of question, isn't it? Well perhaps it does. In this topic, Andrei (who was a moderator before I was, and who has more experience as a moderator and with Buddhists on other sites) was concerned that some questions should not be asked ("I would not ask this question in such broad form though") because they are (I quote) "inclined toward flamewars" -- I accepted (and now try to help to implement) that as a moderation policy. – ChrisW Dec 13 '18 at 8:25
  • I cleaned up this topic -- deleted a non-Mahayana answer and a lot of comments. – ChrisW Dec 13 '18 at 18:24
  • I see the different point. New users tend to ask questions in that directions, not because they have intention to cause conflict, but because they are confused. Perhaps that's when the moderator should come in, just add the phrase "please first specify which tradition your answer based upon". When an answer confined within the perspective of a tradition, we know how to take it. If a Theravadin said "based on Pali Canon, we do not accept Diamond Sutra", that is fine. If one said, "Diamond Sutra is a fake sutra", or "is not Buddhavacana." This is disparaging. In contrast, the policy... – Mishu 米殊 Dec 14 '18 at 16:05
  • shouldn't draw any boundary what can or what can't be asked. It's the manner and way of asking matter. Isn't it? Glossing to produce illusion of harmony is not what facts will be discovered. And thanks the effort to clean up. At the moment I have no clue what is a more appropriate way. But I do have an idea to share. I put it in my answer edition for easy writing ^ – Mishu 米殊 Dec 14 '18 at 16:10
  • @Mishu米殊 - Fascinating discussion. The last paragraph in Chris' post above would describe me and so maybe I have a role somewhere . I feel these differences of view should be addressed and dealt with. The question being discussed here may have been inappropriate as written but behind it is an important question that deserves an answer. Someone mentioned the tendency of Theravadans to respect tradition rather than apply logic and analysis and if so then it's not a good reason to avoid rattling their cage. However, I'd agree that the relevant questions must be asked very carefully, . – PeterJ Jan 22 at 15:29
  • Thanks @PeterJ. Board question, and complicated issues. I know that there're "schemes" to edit Buddhism by "The Power", like Christianity the Bible was the final product of edition by the church. If the Dead Sea Scrolls not discovered we would think there's only four gospels, and Jesus didn't teach rebirth (Jesus taught rebirth if you know the story about discovering of ancient scrolls buried in the cave belonged to the Essenes). Theravada together with the so-called Early Buddhist Texts is just part of the scheme, while promoting Tibetan Tantra is good devise to say Mahayana does stand... – Mishu 米殊 Jan 23 at 16:41
  • ...but developed by the later disciples. Because Tibetan text IS later texts and they admit it gladly, even not Buddhist text, Padmasambhava either is a myth or a shamanic priest. That said, there's also corruptions in modern Chinese Buddhism in a different way. What we see in the surface as phenomena - e.g. the absurdity in this forum sometimes, underneath are hidden causes and courses. There must only be one version that is true and right, but all the wrong versions do have their place to exist. And tolerance in Buddhism has been misused to harbour toxic preaching. – Mishu 米殊 Jan 23 at 16:46
  • It's all very tricky. Nagarjuna attempted to normalise the sangha on a common view by reference to metaphysics, but not everyone delves into metaphysics and many reject analysis as a guide to truth. Aurobindo calls it a 'guardian against error', Bradley calls it an 'antidote for dogmatic superstition', yet still not many delve into it. Shame, since it would prevent 'toxic teachings' and even much dodgy teaching and encourage a common view. It's the rejection of metaphysics that allows such a surprising range of views to co-exist. . . . – PeterJ Jan 24 at 10:54
  • Hey @PeterJ just check up what I missed. It's impressive that you appreciate Nagarjuna. Perhaps the different perspectives, I just found your "Nagarjuna" is a bit strange to me :q. Sure there a lot of philosophers, and terms I have not heard about. It could be meaningful to see what the conversation uncovered. If you would like, I suggest to use the direct message function in Slack which I was invited - a group of genuine meditation practitioners, without agenda – Mishu 米殊 Jan 31 at 15:24
  • @Mishu米殊 - Thanks for the suggestion, but I'm not sure what you mean by 'direct message function'. What is this? – PeterJ Feb 1 at 10:46
  • I assumed most people know Slack (?), it's the function in there called "Direct Message" which allows members to chat with each other with notification. It has better capacity than here @PeterJ – Mishu 米殊 Feb 1 at 17:19
  • @Mishu米殊 - Ah. I thought you meant we could use direct messaging here. I don't know Slack. – PeterJ Feb 2 at 10:51
  • Slack is a project management software/media for teams (my understanding). It's only by member invitation, if you like I can send the invitation. Direct Message there is not public. I'm not sure if it's appropriate and proper to extend the discussions in these comments that's why I thought up to use other channel, @PeterJ – Mishu 米殊 Feb 3 at 16:30
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Since you mentioned a recurring interest of Mishu's I am made to response instead of taking the easy way to ignore.

1.

I read the question as, "You Buddhists contradict each other, and what the Buddha said wasn't written ... so Buddhism as a system can't claim any truth." IOW it was rhetorical and hostile.

While you read it as rhetorical and hostile, my impression is that the OP is confused and frustrated. Perhaps s/he is interested in Buddhism, but after reading some articles around he concluded that the Buddhists are "contradicting each other". S/he is a new user, remember. Shouldn't the forum assumed any new user come here to ask or answer question is at least interested in Buddhism? Perhaps s/he doesn't have all the jargon to construct a proper question, that's why the editing coming in. And it also leads to the next remark:

2.

If a new user gets the impression "Buddhists contradict each other" because s/he did write:

If Buddhists themselves cannot agree on which scriptural writings or traditions for practice are actually true statements from the Buddha

What could be the cause? I infer that it is because s/he read many articles discussing, or discrediting the authenticity of some Sutras/Suttas and doctrines. Perhaps someone can edit it with a different wording.

It is my interest, but is it wrong or improper? Shouldn't Buddhists be concerned, especially it echoing with the OP's:

how can Buddhism as a system claim any truth?

Then it invokes my other interest, while in your comment you said b) avoid topics which invite inter-school put-downs and grudges and misunderstandings of each other and so on, at the same time there are bunches of questions and answers doing just what our policy has to avoid. Like this one: "What is the basis of Lotus Sutta with respect to original Tipitaka?" - not only that OP is "disgusting" (yes, quiet a nuisance), the answers being voted up only reflected this forum is made up with and for certain sect, though used the name "Buddhism" in Stack Exchange. That OP wrote "where Lotus Sutra contradicts with..." isn't it That's maybe not on-topic here -- see "Broad comparisons" that your policy avoided? This question has been sitting there for more than 15 months, without any moderator intervention.

I just picked the one float up on the front page, there are surely more. I suggest to delete, or at least hold that one, and others violated the policy, to maintain the consistency of policy. But at the same time it's perfectly fine just to sit there. And it ought to be, because any edition to cover a fact is "an offence of false speech". Perhaps the remedy is to avoid such inconsistency in the future. And it also made me notice the last remark:

3.

If this forum wants to improve the quality of its content, it should entertain questions like the one raised by this OP. I notice some users deleted their accounts from this forum recently. I would have done the same if I'm not writing articles on Buddhism in my website.

Reading few dated posts I infer this forum was initially started by a Theravadin Bhikkhu and few associated ones. I can understand that it's perhaps not in their intention to let Mahayana being a more interesting subject. But it doesn't want to use Theravada Buddhism, or simply Pali Canon because it wants bigger audience to boost its existence, so it has to call in the Mahayana. Unavoidably, rejecting Mahayana doctrines and Sutras must be embedded into Theravadin teachings, otherwise inevitably it left Pali Tipitaka with self-evident as incomplete. (Important! Theravada is not Hinayana, Hinayana doesn't reject the Mahayana Tripitaka).

How can Theravada represent Buddhism if they accept Lotus Sutra, or Nagarjuna? Because the first question they will face, why these texts are not in the Pali Canon?

Now we have the legs on two boats. While it used the title "Buddhism" it ought to attract users from all different sects. I honestly never see any OP raised by Mahayana user to discredit Pali Suttas, but in contrary it has been widely carried out, approved and awarded with lots of upvotes. If an answer putting a quote from Pali Sutta, it will almost certainly be upvoted by "particular" users (which my estimation is consisted 70-90% of all the users) who often used the connotation "Lord Buddha" relaying to the Pali Canon.

But, many people coming from the Hellenistic or Indian civilization, or like me from Chinese civilization, are more interested in infusing the doctrinal understanding with intellectual reasoning, instead of stop-short at "the Buddha's teaching is to end suffering", or "Buddhism is here and now", in another word, shut up - don't ask more. And surely people like me enjoy reading answer with good analytical skill, with depth or philosophical pondering, and also tend to write answers that parsing the reasoning behind the premises too. Those stop-short Q&A may not have the quality to entertain these people.

Like attracts like. This forum surely will happily continue to exist like the "Dhammawheel.net" discussion board.

I'm not writing for trying to lift the [on hold] of the related question. As ChrisW pulling in few new factors I'm just unintentionally tripping into the myriad of sub-divisions and unaware that I've written quite a lengthy post.



Added:

For subject on science, we usually have definite answer, like in Astronomy, Physics Stack Exchange, or Stackoverflow. For subject on art and literature, probably not, Buddhism SE is one of that. Therefore, instead of using the icon of a tick to indicate the OP's chosen answer, what about using different icon? Say, icon of heart to indicate the answer liked by the OP.

How can a questioner know what is a correct answer? Since s/he doesn't know therefore s/he has to ask. Many chosen answers in Buddhism SE are wrong answers!

The answers given in art subjects usually cannot be proved. Most of the questions do not have any definite correct answers. It is not like coding, in Stackoverflow the codes can be tested. But it is not in Buddhism. Therefore perhaps it's more appropriate to choose a different indicator to indicate the questioner chosen which answer, instead of the "tick"?

  • Hi Mishu, thank you for sharing your concern -- I have posted this answer to reply. – ChrisW Dec 13 '18 at 7:24
  • Hmm. If this forum is predominantly geared towards Therevada that would explain much that has bothered me. If this is the case then I may leave also since I can only cause trouble, But is it the case? – PeterJ Dec 13 '18 at 12:11
  • @PeterJ A lot of the topics are about the Pali canon. Some users (not 'most' users, but you notice the ones who do post) may be dismissive or not understand Mahayana ideas and texts. We want schools to coexist on the site. Per "How should we handle the different traditions of Buddhism in our answers?" we implement that partly by tagging the questions -- so e.g. if a question is tagged pali-canon that implies the OP is asking about the Pali canon (and not other doctrines), conversely if it's tagged mahayana then an answer from a ... – ChrisW Dec 13 '18 at 23:40
  • ... orthodox Theravadin perspective (which may or may not includes statements like, "don't say that nibbana doesn't exist", "we don't consider that sutra to be buddhavacana", "people who delay their enlightenment to pursue a 'bodhisatva way' are unorthodox", etc., would be off-topic in that topic (tagged mahayana). If a question invites potential conflict between doctrines, I'd like it to be asked from the perspective of (i.e tagged for) a specific school, so that I know which kind of reply is on-topic there. – ChrisW Dec 13 '18 at 23:47
  • There are fewer Mahayana-related topics (and always have been), fortunately there are (or have been) some users who are able (knowledgeable enough and willing) to answer them when they are asked. – ChrisW Dec 13 '18 at 23:51
  • @PeterJ But the site isn't "geared towards" Theravada (though some users are). The site is geared towards respecting differences in doctrine (possibly by having separate topics for different doctrines, different questions). You could look at some of these topics -- mahayana, vajrayana, zen, tibetan-buddhism, chinese-buddhism, lotus-sutra, shin-buddhism – ChrisW Dec 14 '18 at 0:40
  • @ChrisW - Okay, Thanks. Got it. I struggle with the idea of allowing contradictory ideas to co-exist but see the reasoning behind partitioning them here. – PeterJ Dec 14 '18 at 10:14
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    @PeterJ To the extent it's "geared" towards specific schools, it's geared towards minimizing conflict by partitioning them. The ('community of') users who started this site had seen some conflicts (e.g. between schools) on other sites, didn't want to see it here too. There are users who know several doctrines and can answer 'from within' (or 'address in terms') the perspective of any specific -- but trying to avoid cross-talk. Therefore a question about School X's doctrine of Y gets answers from school X's perspective, but not from school Y (e.g. if school Y think that X is e.g. incomplete). – ChrisW Dec 14 '18 at 11:20
  • IMHO I don't see you cause trouble @PeterJ ;). All those are just my impressions, take with lots of pinches of salt :)- – Mishu 米殊 Dec 14 '18 at 15:14
  • Thanks @ChrisW for taking the time to explain. Perhaps we are dealing with many factors that woven into an entangling web. 1) is historically there sects arguing about different interpretations, 2) is Theravada wrongly identified itself with Hinayana now geared with mood of vengeance. Theravada if claim "The Elders" and designated itself the inheritor of Sthaviravada but than originally Sthaviravada were Mahayanists. They have been shaped and almost recreated anew by Theosophical Society not until late 18th century... – Mishu 米殊 Dec 14 '18 at 15:47
  • 3) Sri Lankan people are patriotic and so keen in upholding what they identified as their tradition, instead of discerning with sober intellect. We see them filled up the arena singing in one voice. (I wonder if we can find any Mahayanist in the Sri Lankan people? But there are Theravadins in Chinese population :). 4) Political struggle. Cultural influence is a soft weapon. There were and are infiltrating, implanting, demoting activities from scholastic and textual means to destroy – Mishu 米殊 Dec 14 '18 at 15:47
  • ...the Buddha teaching - since Chinese Tripitaka held the most complete and powerful collections of Buddhavacana. That's why many articles telling how the Mahayana Sutras are later works. And people generally after reading authorities' thesis accepted the preach, though they are still quite fond of the content of those Sutras and Sastras... 5), 6)... and so on. Buddhism is definitely much more complicated than Christianity, Islam or Hinduism in "sects' war". Because it involves the conflict of the East and West, China and America - see the recent Trade War and Huiwei case. Etc., etc. – Mishu 米殊 Dec 14 '18 at 15:48

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