Happy to consider it, let’s see what people want.
Please cast your vote!
P.S.: Could any of the moderators change the poll settings to one option/choice only?
I just checked it out, it looks like I might be able to, but you will lose all votes up to this point
I agree. There needs to be an understanding along the lines:
“In this category one should reply to, or discuss posts in the framework of the OP.”
It’s very unhelpful and disheartening to have exchanges like:
“I’m practising X and having trouble with Y.”
“X isn’t what the Buddha taught, so you’re wasting your time. You should practice Z.”
For myself, I find the idea difficult because, as a practitioner and teacher, I have no clue how to assess what someone’s actual practice is from an electronic communication. I get requests fairly frequently for advice on meditation via email and so on, and I make it a policy to politely decline.
When I speak to someone about meditation, I can at least make a start to understand who they are, get a sense for their background, their emotional state, their bearing, and all the little things that get lost on the web. That doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get it right—the suttas remind us that even Sāriputta sometimes gives bad meditation advice—but it means you have a chance.
The reason I think discussion of texts can be useful on the web is precisely because it is a lesser form of communication. It is about something thinner, less meaningful, less important, and more transparent. We might all disagree about the interpretation of a text, but we can at least look at the same text and know what it is we’re disagreeing about. Even then, you may have noticed that I tend to avoid discussions on profound or difficult matters, and mostly content myself with clarifying minor details. Again, this is not because I am not interested in the profound things, but because I think an internet forum is not likely to be a useful place to decide such things.
When someone says, “I had a peaceful meditation”, I have literally no idea what they’re talking about. If someone says “I have jhana”, I am 90% sure they’re probably overestimating themselves. But I still know nothing of what their meditation is really like.
Meditation is so subtle, it gets into all kinds of things regarding one’s background, state of spiritual development, opportunities, relationships, psychological problems, and all that. And it is incredibly fragile. As a teacher, I couldn’t really care less about what state of meditation a person has, or what they think they have. All I care about is that they keep practicing and getting better. So most of the job is listening, and saying, “Great, keep going!”
But sometimes someone really is going off the rails. What do you do? Correcting their misunderstanding might help with that, or it might just ruin their confidence. And then—with apologies to everyone here—you so often get people rushing in to offer their advice, when they have no idea or experience. Mature practitioners will tend to be much more cautious and reticent with such things, because we know how hard it is. And meanwhile, half a dozen enthusiastic new practitioners have rushed in to lay down how it really is.
I understand why people are interested in this, and i know that it is important to talk about your practice. But if anyone asked me about this, I would strongly encourage them to join a local meditation group, or even form one, where you can talk with real people, not with The Cyber. I know not everyone can do this, but still.
Anyway, not saying it can’t happen, just explaining my reservations.
Thanks for your reply. I’m wondering if you can expand on this.[quote=“sujato, post:10, topic:4019”]
Mature practitioners will tend to be much more cautious and reticent with such things, because we know how hard it is. And meanwhile, half a dozen enthusiastic new practitioners have rushed in to lay down how it really is.
What are the kinds of things that a more mature practitioner would be more cautious about and a less mature practitioner more unrestrained about? By maturity, do you mean the amount and length of time someone has practiced, the faculty of wisdom and circumspection, a bit of both, or neither? Any other thoughts you may have on the subject are appreciated.
The latter, of course! You can’t judge a person’s wisdom by the length of time they’ve been practicing.
As for what they’d tend to be cautious about, basically, jumping to conclusions (see MN 27). People tend to find something that works for them, and are very enthusiastic about sharing that. But it turns out, what actually made the difference often had little to do with the specific method or means that you used, but the attitude behind it, or the place you were in when you did it, or something else entirely. These things are complex and subtle.
I’m only really comfortable when talking about meditation with someone I’ve known for a long time, or on a retreat, or someone who’s living in the same monastery. Again, almost all of my time in speaking with people about meditation is listening, and trying to learn enough about someone to say something sensible. You get a sense for it, how confident they are, how reflective, how open to suggestions. So, when it’s called for, you might try to nudge them a little bit in a good direction. But if someone’s really stuck in their own ideas, there’s no point. There’s nothing to be done but just wait and trust that over time they’ll wise up. But every case is different.
If someone says, “what does this Pali word mean”, I have one answer (maybe a long one, but still!). But if their question is, “My mind became still in meditation, what to do next?” there’s a million different answers, and I have no idea which is going to work.
I mean, I know that not everyone will be here to ask specific questions or to get answers. Often just sharing and empathizing is enough, and that is much less problematic. I’m just concerned about taking into our hands someone’s delicate, bird-like spiritual development, and subjecting it to the blunt instrument of the internet.
You make a good point and that is a good analogy. The way I’d envision such a forum working well is by implementing rules and strictly enforcing them. The rules would make it clear that belittlement of another’s practice, insistence that one’s own practice is the only right way, and harsh speech would result in immediate suspension. It would be, if you will, a ‘safe space.’
That’s an ideal, anyway. It may not be feasible.
Oh, look absolutely. We will moderate it. When I say “we”, of course I mean “they”, the good people who spend their time doing this, discussing carefully whenever a thread or conversation seems to be going in a not-so-useful direction. Hopefully they won’t sue us for PTSD.
Very well put bhante.
Note however I don’t think that the practice of meditation will or should be the only subject to be approached in such new category!
My (maybe extremely naïve) impression is that because the suttas tend to be mostly about meditation - the cultivation of the path factors of right mindfulness and right stillness - that people end up talking (and sometimes arguing) about meditation here.
And my (doubtlessly over optimistic) expectation is that such a new category may end up becoming a nice forum for well intended people to share small but nice accounts of, for example, how simple little things they found written in the suttas, here or heard somewhere else helped them making the endeavour in the cultivation of the path more harmonious and enjoyable.
Anyhow, albeit previously voting for the creation of such category I am now inclined to change my vote. Maybe a separate forum, disconnected from SC would be a better platform for this experiment. After reading and re-reading your considerations I now not only fear the messy way things may develop but as well feel sorry for those who will have to either manage or clean it afterwards!
Hence, I hope that this thread will at least help those responsible for D&D making an informed decision about it and (if they so wish) make clear to all present their reasons for their decision.
Later on, if the choice ends up to not have this new category created we will at least be able to point to this thread and warn people to avoid going too wild on discussions, debates and arguments about more practical, personal and subtle aspects of their cultivation of the eightfold path.
To me, the important thing is that if we want to do it, we should do it well. We should focus on it, look at the pitfalls, see existing sites and what they offer, figure out how we can improve on that, and all that stuff. To me, it requires a dedicated effort. Meanwhile, our friends at http://newbuddhist.com/ and http://www.dhammawheel.com/ are doing a great job.
Just peeking at newbuddhist, I saw a thread titled “I achieved first jhana today” and was reminded all over again why I am dubious about this …
Thanks for these links. It is the first time I hear about NewBuddhist.com !
I have just scrolled through it and got a good enough sample to change my vote to “No”!
By the way, 19 people have voted so far. What should be the minimum amount of votes for us to have a fair sample of users’ desires? I ask for it seems I am the one with powers to close the poll
Should we use a figure related to the number of active/recurrent users of D&D? If so, how many D&D netizens are we?
This is so interesting! Some time ago you started a thread on why there are not so many women posting, and I had some thoughts quite along these lines. I read the suttas, sometimes even in Pali, but I’m really interested in them in order to learn how to practice and wake up. I only have so much time and arguing the finer points of less profound sutta topics is not usually going to beat out meditating or connecting with someone about practice. I just don’t value intellectual debate quite highly enough to take the time to do it well, and I certainly don’t want to do it badly.
Which is not to say that I don’t love to read what you all say!
Your reservations are really apt, Bhante. Even in Q&As in Dharma Centers I hear a lot of claims to attainments, one-upmanship, unsolicited advice, etc. when the teacher is not fast enough to stop it. So it would be quite difficult to do, I think. At the same time, I have the impression that a lot of people don’t have people they can share their experiences with in person.
By analogy, in the psychological field, psychologists would be very reluctant to create a forum where clinicians and lay people would exchange experiences, symptoms, medications, et al on a forum. As has been pointed out, the level of actual face-to-face assessment and assessment over time is not available in such a forum, and the possibility for harm is present. In my lay vocation, I was asked in the past to give legal advice on certain forums, and was sometimes asked by groups to provide responses to questions from people with legal issues. I just found this to be fraught with problems, as even legal issues are nuanced and the facts of each person’s case are potentially so different from the facts (and even law) applicable to any given person’s situation. So, the best practice is to avoid having forums where lawyers and lay people exchange legal counsel and experiences. The potential for benefit is low, and the potential for problems is high.
Another issue that arises on the kinds of forums I’ve described above is that, for some reason, when these kinds of forums exist, it is often people with degrees of pathology that seem attracted to these forums. The forums strangely attract odd comments, odd retorts, and sometimes degrade out of useful forums for shared experience and counsel into ad hom attacks and hurt feelings.
Right now, Sutta Cental is just such a lovely, smart garden, and I’d hate to see any seeds planted that would allow for the cultivation of noxious weeds.
The poll is closed.
If we consider what is really helpful for a person, it could be a number of things. I have certainly not experienced it to be that single decicive conversation with an all enlightened teacher. We could learn from our daily life, by observing nature, a kalyanamitta, or our mistakes. As long as teachers don’t have high expectations from their life-changing answers, they will be ok. . I would go with thinking of any answers as suggestions, and if the meditator wants to put them into practice, it will be upto them, if and when possible. Life is complicated so I can fully see someone asking a questions when inspired by a dhamma talk but finding it difficult to carry it out.
In depth assessments of personality would be nice, but that is no guarantee that it will be effective though. Having lived with someone it is easier to give much more applicable advice. But we do not know by what hindrance they have not figured it out themselves and whether bringing something to their notice is an adequate intervention. Also, some people aren’t able to articulate their emotions (‘alexithymia’) so many not be able to report what their problem is to a teacher. As long as such people are engaged with group of kalyanamittas it maybe helpful (though they may not be able to recount how it helped).
Overall, I think D&D and SC is a generally pretty positive place to be at, comparatively. It is not Utopia (‘sukkah thinking’) but realistic as human interactions go. I think it is in this ‘human realm’ where our practice will happen- within the interactions of this forum and not in a ‘deva forum’ where everyone is perfect! I’m saying, our interactions on the forum IS the practice and is conducive to it as it has a bit of negative and positive. I personally find interacting with everybody keeps my brain thinking about the dhamma and helps bring those brain connections in line with the dhamma. This is what being with kalyanamittas is about- its about the dhamma. Even discussing the suttas is beneficial, even if it is obscure pali.
ps- lot more to practice than meditation.
I have re-opened the poll. So far 21 of the 140-220 active users of D&D have manifested their opinion on the topic. I invite all those who haven’t yet to do so.
Please kindly note there is no guarantee that saying what your opinion is will lead to any change.
As Bhante Sujato has made himself clear few posts above his preference is to not come up with such new category as, as far as I understand, i) this would not be aligned with the overall original objective of D&D and ii) doing so would require time, energy and resources not available or even obtainable for an online forum about practice to be successful.
P.S.: I am not a moderator and have no role in D&D beside being an active user. I cannot make things happen or not happen neither my views, opinions or preferences do in anyway determine the direction of things here.
I am primarily interested here in following discussions on translation of EBTs and to some extent doctrinal implications of how differenttranslation approaches may suggest different theoretical and practical aspects of the Dhamma Vinaya.
I am not interested in anyone’s view of what jhana is or not or how people choose themselves to cultivate the path. I cannot see the point of advocacy-based debates in which people try to push things to practical and fundamentally subjective aspects of the path.
Whenever I need guidance on those subjects I will help myself by studying what the Suttas say and as much as possible what monastics who I have respect for in terms of practical questions have to say about such things.
What is D&D?
Is it Dumb and Dumber?
[quote=“SarathW1, post:24, topic:4019”]
[/quote]I thought it was Dungeons & Dragons when I first saw reference to “D&D”![quote=“Gabriel_L, post:23, topic:4019”]
I have re-opened the poll. So far 21 of the 140-220 active users of D&D have manifested their opinion on the topic. I invite all those who haven’t yet to do so.
[/quote]I am one of those who has not contributed their opinion to the poll, because, for me, SuttaCentral is largely a specialized forum concerning inquiry, scholarly and general, by nonspecialists and specialists alike, into EBTs themselves, with a secondary focus on how these impact Buddhist practice. The balancing between these two functions, inquiries into contextualizing as well as identifying the teachings found within EBTs and how EBTs express themselves textually, and inquiries into the consequences of these inquiries for Buddhists who value the Dhamma expounded in the EBTs as authoritative for how they should interface with the Buddhadharma in the way that the earliest Buddhists did, lies at the heart of the question in the poll, as I understand it.
However, regardless of if this is a forum dedicated moreso to the former, inquiries into EBTs and their contexts, or the latter, inquiries into how EBT teachings are adapted to practice in the here-and-now and/or how contemporary extant traditional Buddhist practices embody and stem from the teachings found in EBTs (or don’t occasionally), I will still use the forum the same, and when posts pop up that I am not interested in, I don’t feel any obligation to read them (although I will probably become curious if it is evident that a discussion is brewing that is not a mess of misunderstandings and/or trolling).
So, to me, regardless of whichever way the “official focus” goes (not having an “official focus” between the two seems like a fine state of affairs to me), it isn’t going to impact how I post on the site, and which posts I read, so ultimately I don’t have a stake in the matter.
I think other people may not have voted for the same reason, perhaps, regardless of how they use the forum.