Hello all. I’ve come here from Bhikkhu Jayasara’s sharing of the fakebuddhaquotes.com page, and I’m very appreciate of this conversation here, as I’ve been unsettled by the release of this text for some time now.
I’d like to share a finding of my own that I’ve not yet seen mentioned here, and that is one of the poems of Weingast’s collection, “Tissa the Third”, is actually not a poem of the Elder Nuns at all.
Here is Weingast’s version:
Why stay here
in your little
If you really want
to be free,
a thought of freedom.
Break your chains.
Tear down the walls.
Then walk the world a free woman.
But there is no Tissa the Third in the Therigatha, and I find this to be the most troubling thing I’ve seen in this collection so far. There are two verses in the Therigatha named for a bhikkuni Tissa, both in the first book of single verses, one of which is actually a verse by the Buddha to Tissa.
Here is the first poem, attributed to the Buddha’s voice (I am using Charles Hallisey’s translations):
Tissa, train yourself strictly, don’t let
what can hold you back overwhelm you.
When you are freeom from everything that holds you back
you can live in the world
without the depravities that ooze out from within
And here is the second verse, which according to Hallisey’s note is something of a refrain she composed to repeat to herself in response to the Buddha’s verse:
Tissa, hold fast to good things, don’t let the moment escape.
Those who end up in hell cry over moments now past.
Clearly, neither of these two verses reflect the content of Weingast’s version, but this is not the most egregious part to me… because there is poem in the Pali canon titled “Tissa the Third.” Only, it is found in the Theragatha.
Bhikkhu Sujato’s translation of Thag 2.17, “Tissa (3rd)”, follows:
A shaven one wrapped in the outer robe
gets many enemies
when they receive food and drink,
clothes and lodgings.
Knowing this danger,
this great fear in honors,
a mendicant should go forth mindfully,
with few possessions, not full of desire.
Looking back at Weingast’s, this is definitely the poem he based his off of. But he changes the content, and adds lines to make render the speaker’s voice into that of a woman’s.
A lot of things would have to go wrong for this to have been just an accident, if this work had been intended to have been a scholastic translation. Someone proofing would have noticed earlier that not only is this poem not found in the original collection, but that the titled poem does exist in the collection of men’s verses.
I think this evidences that it goes well beyond just creative reinterpretations and a loose definition of what a “translation” is, but a very steep and deliberate act of intellectual dishonesty. And it is quite sad to me.
I hope I am adding to this discussion constructively, rather than throwing fuel onto a fire, but I felt that the degree and scope of dishonesty here needed to be highlighted.