First Free Women, a bogus translation of Buddhist scripture

(I’ve updated the files to correct the date.)


Don’t you fear the Steisand effect with such an approach?

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Google says that the Streisand effect is when one tries to hide or cover a truth. This is trying to reveal a truth. I imagine a bunch of people will arbitrarily double-down and side with the bogus translation for all sorts of personal and group reasons. A lot of people are biased against the entire enterprise of EBT studies because they see it as innately seeking to undermine their “true religion.” That is just one group of people I could see taking the poet’s side. The Streisand effect in that sense, if it is rightly applied here, is sort of inevitable. Ven Sujato could have said “Cleary’s translation of the Flower Garland Sutra is awful” and I’m sure some people would line up to defend Cleary.


Unfortunately the book is already wildly popular, by Buddhist sutta book standards at least. So It’s not like some obscure blog post hiding out some where that we are drawing attention to.

If people want to knowingly read poems that someone in 2020 made up imagining what enlightened nuns really meant, then that’s on them. But they shouldn’t be misled. And going forward people who investigate should be able to easily find out the truth.


It’ll be interesting to see. So far I haven’t seen it—well except for the publisher—but it’s early days yet.


I think Twitter might be a good place to post Bhante’s open letter. Both Shambala and the author have Twitter accounts. In the recent past Twitter has been a good platform for addressing things like cultural appropriation, which is exactly what this is. So replying to a Tweet from Shambala and the author, or tagging them (I don’t really know how Twitter works) and including Bhante’s letter should be effective. Of course, anyone from D&D who agrees with the letter should also comment on and like the post.


Twitter would be great for this. But I couldn’t find them on twitter. Are you sure it’s them and not another organization called Shambala?

But if it is them, please share their twitter handle!

But Weingast definitely has a twitter account. He was using it just a couple of days ago a year ago to promote his book. (Arggh, I still haven’t caught up with 2021!)


The topmost post on Shambala Publications’ Facebook page is a Milrepa quote entitled “Do Not Edit the Dharma.”

Just thought I’d point that out.


And in all its ironic glory for posterity.

So what’s the over/under on the actual quote by Milarepa being fake?

It’s in a translation by Chogyam Trungpa, a notorious drunkard, and it uses his favorite phrase “spiritual materialism”. I’m betting it’s either invented, apocryphal, or loosely paraphrased at best.


I’ll give you even odds, but only because I’m trying to be less of a cynic these days.

I commented on that post btw, stating my personal boycott and sharing an image of your open letter, Bhante. If for some reason my comment isn’t visible, I’d enjoy learning that (despite the setback it would create in the aforementioned striding away from cynicism).


Good man!

Yes, I can see it, thanks! Even though i’m not on FB, it seems to be publicly available.


It’s just a clumsy citation. The quotation is actually from Trungpa’s book of talks on Milarepa’s teachings. The poster has given the title of the book but omitted the name of the author, giving the erroneous impression that Milarepa is the author.


We can always rely on you to clear things up, Ven. :pray:


The levels of meta is head spinning.


Actual lol :rofl: This is hilarious.


It would be if the carelessness weren’t so sad. :cry:


Well, Trungpa’s source for Milarepa’s life would almost certainly have been Heruka’s The Life of Milarepa, which itself is probably largely fabrication, written half a millenium after Milarepa died. :man_shrugging:


This is what I found: I searched for “Shambala Publications Twitter.”

I’ve always loved the story of Milarepa. There’s a fascinating academic book about his student Rechungpa: The Biographies of Rechungpa: The Evolution of a Hagiography. That book is a comparison of all the existing Tibetan hagiographies of Rechungpa, but you can’t talk about Rechungpa without talking about Milarepa. So the book also compares hagiographies of Milarepa. Both Heruka’s Life of Milarepa and the 100,000 Songs of Milarepa bear little resemblance to the earliest sources.


Yes, in all fairness (though it may not be warranted) when you click on “more” you see this:


I know this thread from @tasfan , and he translated this article into Indonesian. I will share this to my social media… :pray: