Talk:Triratna Buddhist Community

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Draft[edit]

I think we should attach a copy of the page to a subpage here on the talk page, and carry out further edits on that, until we reach a version agreed on by all. Who agrees?--ObscureFruits (talk) 16:49, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

That might be a good idea in principle, but would only work if all the active editors agree to it. I thought we were already having an Arbitrary Break on editing the article, as suggested by Digger - 'There is no deadline for the completion of this article. Just because it does not currently meet your personal preference does not mean that it should be immediately changed to something you prefer. If it takes a week of discussion or 6 months or 5 years, the correct way to improve this article is through this talk page.' - I stopped editing then, but there have been 25 edits to the article since then, mostly independent of discussion on this talk page. ISTM that I am the only editor who agrees with Digger :( EmmDee (talk) 14:48, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
Seems I missed the bit about stopping editing, what comes of reading when tired. Still, working on a draft as part of discussion seems fine to me...--ObscureFruits (talk) 16:47, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
Should we revert it to the version at the time of the break, or keep it as it is at present? (As a solution to the after break editing)--ObscureFruits (talk) 16:52, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
No, I think we should keep this as it is and continue in the normal way. There has been a huge consensus on other pages about these anonymous sites, and I for one have given a lot of thought to how to go forward.Bluehotel (talk) 17:20, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
BTW, Emmdee has not answered the conflict of interest matter. Bluehotel (talk) 17:20, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
Just reread Digger's comments, I see no actual comment that the article should be on hold indefinitely, more a suggestion that people chill out about it more (you (Bluehotel) and EmmDee) And also, Bluehotel is right, you have not mentioned the potential Conflict Of Interest.--ObscureFruits (talk) 17:14, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

Sorry, I didn't realise I was expected to mention or answer the (unspecified) potential Conflict Of Interest. Digger said (above): 'Finally, although I have no particular interest in your real-life name/interests/actions, others seem to have queried them. Please read WP:Conflict of interest and consider your position in editing this article.' I have read and considered WP:Conflict of interest, and I cannot see that I have any Conflict Of Interest, potential or actual. Of course, I do have my own opinions and perspectives, as I imagine all Wikipedia editors do. Or at least, I find it hard to imagine an editor without their own opinions and perspectives on whichever article topics they are motivated enough to spend time editing. That is why the principle of using reliable sources is so important.

I am interested in the field of NRMs/alleged cults, with particular reference to the FWBO, as can be seen from my past contributions. I do not have my own website, and I am not a member of any religious organisation, nor of any anti-cult organisation, though I am broadly sympathetic to the aims of the so-called 'anti-cult movement' (ACM), though not always to its rhetoric.

This is, at times, a highly controversial field. Some NRMs/cults operate a Scientology-type 'Fair Game' policy, attempting to harass and discredit those they perceive as hostile. I have heard of the FWBO doing this (eg. writing to a critic's employer), though they are by no means the worst. For that reason, I do not use my real name on Wikipedia, though I would much prefer to do so - it would just leave me vulnerable to harassment. Others are reported to have 'asked not to be named for fear of reprisals'. [1]

Coming now to the actual editing of the FWBO article, I interpreted Digger's comments that: 'There is no deadline for the completion of this article. Just because it does not currently meet your personal preference does not mean that it should be immediately changed to something you prefer. If it takes a week of discussion or 6 months or 5 years, the correct way to improve this article is through this talk page.' to be a suggestion that discussion (and, by implication, consensus?) should precede any further editing of this article. However, no other editors seem to have interpreted Digger's comments in this way, and there has been extensive editing since then, which IMO has made the article even more unbalanced than before. The POV tag has even been removed now, which seems completely innappropriate to me.

In general, the article currently seems to me to be quite unbalanced because there is too much reliance on non-RS FWBO sources, insufficient reference to concerns and criticisms expressed by RS sources, and attempts by various means to minimise the criticisms which are referenced (eg. link to 1997 Guardian article seems to have been removed, perhaps because it is also indirectly a link to either the ex-cult or the fwbo-files site). I am not sure what to do about this. One possibility is to resume the edit war which has been going on more-or-less since the begining of this article, but that would not be ideal. It would be better IMO if the article was subjected to some kind of impartial mediation or adjudication, but I am not sure if there would be any impartial editors who would be prepared to devote the necessary time and effort.

I was hoping Digger would return to give their comments, but perhaps we have frightened them off?

IMO there are a lot of issues with this article, so many that it is difficult to know where to start. But I will start with two issues, one specific and one general. The first specific issue is that on 16:47, 20 June 2009 ObscureFruits 'Removed site that amounted to a link to ex-cult and the fwbo-files.', even though they had earlier said: 'I'll wait for Digger's say on the matter though as he is more knowledgeable of Wikipedia policy. 22:20, 16 June 2009'

ISTM a bit remiss to not mention that the FWBO is included in two notable website listings of cult, controversial and new religious groups. Both Steven Hassan and Rick Ross (consultant) have their own Wikipedia articles, so they (and presumably their websites?) seem to meet the Wikipedia criteria for notability. So I think the fact that the FWBO is listed on these websites is notable enough to merit mention in this article, even if such mention is also indirectly a link to ex-cult and the fwbo-files sites. Additionally, there is a case for mentioning:

'This week [late November 1997], the director of the Cult Information Centre (CIC), Ian Haworth, told Student Direct that both the FWBO and the NKT were well known to the CIC and that they, "have been, and continue to be, very concerned about the activities of both organisations".' [2]

and also [3] though this focusses on one FWBO centre

A general issue is that the article seems to give quite a lot of space to non-RS FWBO sources (I won't itemise them all now). WP:Reliable sources states: 'Articles should rely on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. ' FWBO sources are obviously not third-party, and it is not clear they have a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. As academic Martin Baumann observes:'As regards social reputation, being a member of a specific religious group vouches for quality, sincerity and honesty. Members of the FWBO are still striving for that reputation, however.' [4]

If WP:Reliable sources is to be applied strictly to the two websites which must not be mentioned or even linked-to indirectly, then it should be applied equally strictly to FWBO websites and sources, otherwise Wikipedia guidelines are being used in an unbalanced and polemical manner in order to push a pro-FWBO POV. EmmDee (talk) 14:41, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

I would hope that the whole RS question could be resolved as follows-

include third-party references from reliable sources (positive and negative) include FWBO website sourced info for non-controversial matters of fact (special status: Primary source affiliated with article subject) exclude all other anti- or pro- websites unless they can be demonstrated to reach RS standards (the cult websites would not, I think, count) The link to the Guardian article was removed because of copyright concerns, as was explained on the WP:RS/N

There seems to be some confusion here about Policies about RAS and references and Policies about EL - it seems to me that a resolution is likely to look like: very few ELs; article text mentioning criticisms where well-sourced. It is inevitable that until there is more negative material published in RS then the balance will be broadly pro. If there is a good case for criticism, get it published somehwere, and then Wikipedia can reflect it. Martinlc (talk) 16:35, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

POV and fact check tags removed[edit]

I've taken these tags off the page. The reason is that their additions (now going back a long time) have the features of drive-by tagging, unsupported in this discussion as to what is considered to be wrong.

Please, if anybody feels the need to put one or other back, could you explain here exactly what you feel is POV or factually incorrect? In that way, the points can be dealt with rationally and transparently. Generalised hostility or affection for the FWBO doesn't do it by Wikipedia standards.

Thanks all.

I've also researched the conflict of intrest issue, and I feel there can be no doubt about that. Bluehotel (talk) 09:57, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

Sexual tittle-tattle[edit]

I have reversed Emmdee's latest effort for the following reasons:

(a) the quotation is taken from a blog, which is not RS. Although the previous quotation is also from this blog, this is in the exceptional circumstances of giving what seems to be Sangarakshita's reply to Mark Dunlop's allegations. As it is, this section is already very short of the FWBO's replies to the controversies, but I have held back from adding those in the hope that this page will settle down into a proper, fair, encyclopedia entry, giving neutral information about FWBO. This is not a debate page, an essay on FWBO or a platform for individual grudges.
(b) no point is made which has not already been made. There was a controversy in the late 1990s, over issues in the 1980s, reported in the Guardian, and that was that. There was a debate at that time, and it is accounted for in this entry. That discussion is now closed, and there are no RS grounds to reopen it in an encyclopedia entry.

Bluehotel (talk) 14:11, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

I do not understand how one part of a blog can be considered RS, and another part not, or why some circumstances can be considered exceptional, and others not. What criteria are being applied here?

According to the 1997 Guardian article [5]: 'Sangharakshita ... refuses to comment on Dunlop's allegations, which were first made a decade ago.' Thus it seems unlikely that Sangharakshita was commenting on Dunlop's 1987 allegations, more likely that he was commenting on Subhuti's 2004 criticism (which Bluehotel has recently deleted), which was quoted in the same 2006 blog from Adiccabandhu [6] from which Sangharakshita's comment is quoted. Therefore, unless Bluehotel has some evidence to the contrary, I think Subhuti's 2004 criticism should be re-instated.

Adiccabandhu also writes: 'As confidence is returning to the order and movement, one thing is clear: there is no one who is authorised to speak on behalf of the order. Meanwhile the order is still in dialogue with itself about its relation to Sangharakshita’s sexual activities and their consequences. Opinion is still divided as to the most appropriate way forward.' Which seems to indicate that the debate (at least within the order) about Sangharakshita’s sexual activities and their consequences is not over. Perhaps Bluehotel has some other debate in mind, but I don't know what RS grounds they might have to state 'That discussion is now closed', or to dismiss it as 'Sexual tittle-tattle'. EmmDee (talk) 18:46, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Once again, then: this is an encyclopedia. It is not a debate, or an essay, or a forum for vendettas. As it is, there is too much comment in the entry, quite out of proportion to what one would find on other subjects. Reliance on opinion is often an indicator of a shortage of fact. Encyclopedias are about facts. That's the whole point. To date, I think my approach has been fairly relaxed, and to include material which properly should go: for example the alleged letter by the alleged Indian mitras, who appear to be expressing their culture's deep-rooted homophobia, and is sourced here to a non-reliable source. There is no proportional need for any more opinions from anybody on sexual matters, as the debate of between one and two decades ago is now adequately described, and proportionately expressed. BTW, you evaded the conflict of interest issue, which has been put to you many times on different pages. Bluehotel (talk) 22:19, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
So am I right in assuming EmmDee has gone back to editing but answered the potential WP:Conflict of interest issue?--ObscureFruits (talk) 20:15, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
Did you read what I wrote above on WP:Conflict of interest, on 30 June 2009 (first three paragraphs of that post)? EmmDee (talk) 18:47, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Conflict of Interest[edit]

It seems that more time may need to be devoted to the transparent fact that Emmdee has a conflict of interest arising from a personal campaign against Sangarakshita and the FWBO. Perhaps Emmdee now wishes to deal with that here, before I post it on the relevant page for other editors to deal with. Bluehotel (talk) 16:20, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

COI typically apply to members of religious organisation promoting their own organisation. The organisation's web site or books published by the organisation are not verifiable sources. Vapour (talk)
The point that COI typically applies to members of an organization is irrelevant. Wikipedia's guidelines state: "A Wikipedia conflict of interest (COI) is an incompatibility between the aim of Wikipedia, which is to produce a neutral, reliably sourced encyclopedia, and the aims of an individual editor. COI editing involves contributing to Wikipedia in order to promote your own interests or those of other individuals, companies, or groups. Where advancing outside interests is more important to an editor than advancing the aims of Wikipedia, that editor stands in a conflict of interest. [original emphasis]"
As Bluehotel notes, it's "transparent" that Emmdee has COI here. Of course, so do some contributors who are on the FWBO "side," but two wrongs do not make a right. I'd rather we tried to create a good encyclopedia entry. That should be our only aim. Tathaataa (talk) 19:25, 20 July 2010 (UTC)

Notification[edit]

I have nominated Sangharakshita article for deletion. I'm giving notification in this page as the two article are related. Merger is an another alternative in my opinion. Vapour (talk) 14:59, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

Can't imagine why you would suggest such a thing. You don't say, and there is plainly no basis to either merge the two, or to delete Sangharakshita. One is an organisation, and the other is a person. I could spend the rest of of my life pointing you around wikipedia to see the difference (try, say, a war and a general, or a political party and its leaders, or whatever). But I won't. Take a browse yourself. You'll pick it up. Bluehotel (talk) 08:43, 5 September 2009 (UTC)

Quotations changed[edit]

An anon editor has changed quotations, which I have reverted. In a number of cases, I have direct knowledge that the quotation is accurate, and can see no basis to go into a published extract and change it. Perhaps the editor can explain on what basis he has polished up these quotations. Bluehotel (talk) 08:53, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

Name Change[edit]

After an email to members of the Order from Sangharakshita on 06.01.10, the Western Buddhist Order is changing it's name to the Triratna Buddhist Order. In a further email on 16.10 Sangharakshita, following a suggestion by the European Centre Chairs Assembly, made the suggestion that the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order should be known as the Triratna Buddhist Community (this will take a bit more time to be universally adopted since all centres are autonomous).

So this article is now out of date. mahaabaala (talk) 22:39, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

I have reverted the name change in this article because there is no RS for it happening. I think the entry can only properly be changed when there is some proper evidence. As far as I know, Sangharakshita, who was the founder, would not be in a position to change the name. As I understand it, FWBO is a mass of corporate entities - for the most part registered charities - and there would presumably be some form of governance procedures which would need to be invoked in order to change the name. In any event, as I say, there is no RS, and the organization's own site makes no mention of any change of name. Perhaps events will become clear in due course, and, as an encyclopedia, Wikipedia would follow and not lead any developments. Bluehotel (talk) 09:21, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
fine wait for 'evidence'. We've changed the name of the Order. Wikipedia will catch up eventually. You don't seem to comprehend the distinction between the Triratna Buddhist Order and it's auxiliary organisation the Triratna Buddhist Community - which makes me wonder why you are active in the article and reverting things. mahaabaala (talk) 10:44, 10 April 2010 (UTC)
Given the offensiveness of your speech, you seem to fall somewhat short of this order's professed ideals, and indeed those of what you describe, I think insultingly, as its "auxillary organisation" Bluehotel (talk) 17:05, 11 April 2010 (UTC)
BlueHotel - what is it that you find offensive? I find auxiliary (one l fyi) a helpful term when people such as yourself fail to understand the difference between Order and Community, or as we say between "effective and provisional going for refuge". We find the distinction an important one and I see no problem in emphasising it. No one from the Community has complained about my use of that word so why are you? mahaabaala (talk) 10:09, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

mahaabaala: I assume that you are an order member, from what you say. I can only repeat that I find your speech offensive. First you belittle my involvement, questioning my being "actively involved in the article", after I quite properly reverted a name change which FWBO had not made at that time. Now you belittle me again with your claim that I don't know the difference between the order and the community. I must say that I have found WBO members, in person, to be of very varying quality in terms of their compassion and spirituality. Such is life. Your comments here include unproductive abuse, and I would suggest you might care to meditate on this exchange. 11:33, 8 July 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bluehotel (talkcontribs)

RS for name change: Teach Yourself Buddhism, new edition (can't give you page number right now). Peter jackson (talk) 13:56, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
RS fwbo.org as well now finally! Also http://www.freebuddhistaudio.com/talks/details?num=LOC377 a talk by Padmavajra at the name change ceremony of the Triratna Buddhist Community International retreat 31 May, 2010. mahaabaala (talk) 10:09, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

So I assume that now the name change is "official", no one will be offended or insulted if I change the name in the article. Now doubt it will be confusing for a time as most of the RS's still refer to the old name. mahaabaala (talk) 10:09, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

E.g. Bluck, British Buddhism, Routledge, 2010, which has a chapter on FWBO. Peter jackson (talk) 17:37, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
Again, gratuitously abusive. Bluehotel (talk) 11:35, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
It's not a question of people being offended or insulted, Mahaabaala, it's a question of abiding by Wikipedia's guidelines on what constitutes a reliable source. Your having individual knowledge that something is the case does not, in Wikipedia's view, make your say-so an acceptable source. This isn't to call your honesty into question; it's a matter of playing the game by the established rules. Tathaataa (talk) 17:47, 20 July 2010 (UTC)

Reversion of edits[edit]

I have, unusually, reverted edits intended to suggest that there is current controversy over this community, when there is no cited source of this claim. The previous text, to which I have reverted, made the position quite clear: that there was controversy in the 1990s, over events in the 1970s and 1980s. Time to move on my friend. Bluehotel (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 13:43, 18 July 2010 (UTC).

ANSWER: How can any decent person "move on" when the FWBO/"Triratna" cult is still operating and decent people are still being drawn into and damaged by it?

Also - you claim that the controversy is not current - but what about Prasannasiddhi's recent letter to Shabda, in which he says: "I have a sense of disgust and of being used", (of Dennis Linwood- the founder): "he was misusing the natural power and authority of his position as a spiritual teacher, and the love and devotion engendered in me in relation to him in that position, to meet his needs for sex and intimacy in a way that was unskilful. Counsellors that I have seen, including a counsellor from Survivors UK, consider that the above equates to a form of sexual abuse."

If you think it is over you are mistaken, It will only be over once this evil cult is stopped from harming decent and innocent people.

The abuse goes in in the cult's residential centres even to this day and it is a testament to the power of denial that people such as yourself can claim otherwise.

Flapjack51 (talk) 18:45, 18 July 2010 (UTC)
Whether or not this letter refers to current events — and I'd assume it actually refers to events that took place a long time ago, but please feel free to correct me — your citation is not an acceptable source for Wikipedia. Tathaataa (talk) 12:21, 19 July 2010 (UTC)

One what basis do you claim it is not an "acceptable source" ie what is your source for your claims about what sources are valid?

Flapjack51 (talk) 21:42, 19 July 2010 (UTC)

Flapjack51: You need to read Wikipedia's guidelines, which I quoted. Please go read the following page before adding any more citations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Verifiability Since you haven't corrected my impression that the events you're referring to happened a long time ago, I'm going to assume that they indeed did. If you have any acceptable sources for your allegations that there is current abuse within the FWBO (or Triratna, I suppose I should say), please cite them. Tathaataa (talk) 01:13, 20 July 2010 (UTC)

Rebranding anomalies[edit]

It's tempting, but not I think correct, to keep repeating "Triratna Buddhist Community" at every reference to the organisation.

Firstly, I don't think it's correct to retrospectively seek to change the historical record in an encyclopaedia. So, for example, Sangharakshita founded the FWBO and WBO. He did not found the Triratna Buddhist Community and order. If a context required it, most fully one would have to say something like "who founded the community as the FWBO in 1967" or whatever.

Secondly, one can never change the content of quotes. If Stephen Batchelor said something about the FWBO then that's what he did. One can't go in and alter his words, whether in brackets or otherwise. He said what he said.

Thirdly, although as a quick fix after the name change this is understandable, it's not right to simply always substitute FWBO with "Triratna Buddhist Community". The whole point of FWBO is that it is a shortened version. The shortened version now can only be "community". In the present text, I've generally used "community" in the second or subsequent mentions in each paragraph, although even this frequency may get to seem a bit silly over time and, strictly, is too frequent. Really, the full name should only be used in the first instance in each headed section.

These are basic principles of language, and are not matters for the community or its members to have any particular say over in an encyclopaedia.

Personally, I think this rebranding is deeply unskillful, and these anomalies are only some of the technical issues that arise. I think they will suffer in cyberspace, media and in drawing new support by throwing away a succesful brand and substituting something which is unestablished, cultish and tautological. I suspect that if they had taken professional advice, they would have spotted their mistake. It's reminiscient of the name change of the British postal service from "Royal Mail" to "Consignia". This failed brand was changed back at enormous cost. But these are only my personal views, and irrelevant to my edits. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bluehotel (talkcontribs) 08:50, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

I agree in principle with your changes, although I think they could be implemented a little more elegantly. There are at least two ways that the Triratna Buddhist Community could be referred to, helping mitigate some of the repetition. The organization could be referred to as "Triratna" or as "the community," although I'd prefer to see capitalization of "Community" in the latter since it's arguably a contraction of the name. If you're not regarding "the community" as a contraction, then there's no need to stick rigidly to that wording: one could also use "the organization." Tathaataa (talk) 11:58, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
The problem with contracting to "Triratna" is that, in my mind, this is like contracting "Automobile Association" to "Automobile". Meanwhile, calling something the "Community" cap C is the kind of thing that public sector managers do (and perhaps 100 years ago everybody did), as it capitalising makes something more special. But I don't think it does. It's like capitalising Public, Society or Organisation in an age when capitalising is very much in decline. As for organisation, I'm not really sure this captures what we are talking about. I think they had it right in 1967: these people are friends of an order. Friends is a great word and I think they've boobed to drop it, not least because it throws up all these anomalies. I'm sure a clear majority - by far - of people attending their Buddhist centres would be horrified to be told they were now members of an organisation. All a big mistake. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bluehotel (talkcontribs) 16:01, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
"Triratna" seems to be how the FWBO is now contracting its name. See, for example, this news article which has suggested phrases employing that usage as well as usages such as Triratna News and Triratna Video. With regard to your reservations about the word "organization," it shouldn't matter what people in "Triratna" prefer; they are, after all, an organization. Numerous commentators (Baumann, Coleman, Jones, Queen, etc.) have called the FWBO an organization. But as for the capitalization of "community," after looking at Wikipedia's capitalization guidelines I'm forced to agree with you that avoiding capitalization is best. Tathaataa (talk) 04:50, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

The introduction[edit]

I see numerous problems with the lead section of the article.

  1. It's not clear that it's accurate to describe the FWBO as a "path of mindfulness" (no citation given), since unlike some other modern Buddhist movements (IMS, Goenka) their teachings don't privilege mindfulness above other aspects of the Buddha's teachings.
  2. The description of the FWBO as a "new religious movement" (no citation given) is problematic, since this is a question of interpretation rather than a fact. It's a fact that many people writing about NRMs have counted the FWBO as being of that ilk, but it's also true that some, e.g. Gerald Parsons, don't. The introduction to the article may be an inappropriate place to discuss this issue.
  3. We're told that the "Triratna Buddhist Community is one of the largest Buddhist new religious movements" in the UK, which is misleading. In the UK it's one of the three largest Buddhist movements per se.
  4. I'm uncomfortable with the usage "community family," which as well as being ugly is "touchy-feely," to the point that it's verging on non-NPOV.
  5. One third of the introduction is taken up by critical evaluations of the FWBO, with no balancing positive views (and they do exist) from third party, reliable sources.
  6. Some of the citations in that third paragraph are questionable:
    • For example the source attached to the word "radicalism" doesn't even contain that word. The term "radical" is used in the original source, but it could be praise of the FWBO rather than criticism, depending on one's inclination.
    • Also we're told that "some commentators" regard the FWBO as having features of a cult, but only one commentator (John Crook) is cited, and although Crook writes that "some of us" regard the FWBO as cult-like, those others are not named and their status is unknown. Are they "commentators" or just friends of John Crook? What we're dealing with here could be termed "weasel words by proxy" — "some people say the FWBO is a cult."
    • The citation attached to the information that some commentators have accused the FWBO of "unorthodox teachings" leads to John Crooks' "Dangers of Devotion." In that piece he does not use the words "unorthodox teachings" or anything remotely resembling that term. There's either been some careless citing or passages have been changed to the point where the original source no longer matches the content of the article.
  7. John Crooks may have said that the FWBO has aspects of a cult, but Ken Jones (whom Crooks cites) explicitly states that the FWBO is at the "open" end of a spectrum of Buddhist organizations that ranges from "open" to "cultic." And Jones explicitly says "It is not suggested that any of the movements discussed here [including the FWBO] are cults." Should both of those opinions be included in the introduction? I think they should, although this will have to be done briefly or we run the risk of having an article-length introduction.

I plan to do some work on the introduction. At the moment my intention with regard to the above points is:

  1. "path of mindfulness" — rephrase.
  2. "new religious movement" — move into body of the article, to avoid clutter in the introduction. The question of whether the FWBO is defined as a NRM does not seem to be central to the article.
  3. "Triratna Buddhist Community is one of the largest Buddhist new religious movements" — this will be taken care of by the previous change.
  4. "community family" — rephrase.
  5. The balance of the final paragraph — add other perspectives (properly cited, of course).
  6. Inaccurate citations regarding the FWBO's being "radical" and regarding the "some commentators" — either remove or reword to more accurately reflect the original sources.
  7. The question of whether the FWBO is a cult. It seems we have one source (Crooks) who says the FWBO is cult-like, and another (Jones) who is cited approvingly by Crooks but who disagrees with him. It seems to me that the discussion of whether the FWBO is a cult can only be touched on in a "he says / she says" manner in the lead section. It's too important a question to be left out of the lead section, and yet the need for brevity means we can't go into the topic in depth.

The changes I'm proposing making will take me some time, and there will be plenty of opportunity for discussion and debate.Tathaataa (talk) 14:13, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

I don't say that you are wrong. But I would point out that you are tending to disturb a very agonisingly reached compromise with one or perhaps two editors in the past who are quite determined in their hatred of this - I have to use this word - outfit (because I can't finish the sentence otherwise). On the cult question, my personal opinion is that it is clearly a cult, which prioritises the teachings of Sangharakshita above those of the Buddha. Indeed, I genuinely believe he thinks he is a Buddha. However, they are but my personal impressions. There is at least one reliable-source Buddhist commentator who says he believes it has features of a cult, and personally I'd leave it at that. If you click through to the cult page, you'll see it isn't necessarily a perjorative, although most often it seems like it is use that way.
As for "new religious movement", it is new, it is religious (for maybe 90%), it is a movement. I agree that the whole NRM thing throws up issues, which I could find no way to resolve when I last looked at them. Bluehotel (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 16:18, 24 July 2010 (UTC).
Thanks for the warning. I've observed some of this hatred, but my concern is to end up with a good Wikipedia article, and I'm prepared to handle the wrath of the "true believers." I don't think the current lead section meets Wikipedia's standards, and needs to be improved.Tathaataa (talk) 21:19, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

I've found another bad citation. The citation accompanying the statement, "Historically, there has been controversy surrounding the Triratna Buddhist Community" is for page 115 of Coleman's The New Buddhism: The Western Transformation of an Ancient Tradition, and yet that page, and those following, make no reference to controversy, and if anything, the article is complimentary. Who on earth put this lead section together? The final paragraph is almost entirely composed of statements with no supporting citations. Tathaataa (talk) 02:33, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

"Buddhists and others"[edit]

I see some problems with describing the constitution of the FWBO as being "Buddhists, and others." Who are these others? Where's the citation for this assertion? As far as I'm aware, all FWBO institutions are run by Order Members, Mitras, and perhaps (in some cases) Friends. Whether or not this is in breach of UK charity law I simply don't know, and frankly it's not my concern either. Of course there are non-Buddhists who attend FWBO events, just as there are non-Christians who participate in church services. But when we're describing the organizational nature of the FWBO, it's -- as far as I know -- run by Buddhists. I'm open to correction, but I'd like a solid citation. Tathaataa (talk) 21:13, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

Well, I guess this is another example of the problems arising from the name change. As Friends of the... there was nothing to suggest that you had to be a Buddhist to be a Friend. Now, you are really beginning to reformat it as a membership organisation. I would say that the burden is on you to demonstrate that this is a fellowship of Buddhists, rather than what it has been since 1967: a fellowship of friends of a Buddhist order. Then there's the argument, ventilated here over some period, that denies that any of them are Buddhists, and that this isn't a Buddhist outfit at all. In response to that, there is the argument that people decide for themselves whether they choose to call themselves Buddhists.
Personally, I believe it is wrong for an editor to intervene and - as I think you are doing - attempt to declare what belief system is held by another person or other people. The FWBO (and by inference its rebranded self) is not a corporation or a membership organisation. I believe that the original description was as good as it was possible to get: that this is a fellowship of Buddhists and others who follow that fellowship's path of mindfulness. I can't really see what you are trying to accomplish by changing that. Bluehotel (talk) 07:32, 25 July 2010 (UTC)
I think our misunderstanding is that we're talking about different things when we refer to "the FWBO." I'm referring to the organizational basis of the "outfit" — the various official centers, charities, etc, and the people who run them (the "corporations" that you say the FWBO is not) — while you seem to be talking about it as the sum total of all those who participate in the activities generated by those organized activities. I don't think either of us is right or wrong. Clearly the FWBO regards anyone attending an event as being a "Friend" and therefore they're part of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order. But I think the usage you've chosen is potentially confusing. Someone could read that and think that the FWBO is a kind of multi-faith organization run by a coalition of people from various faith traditions. And that isn't the case. There are two (at least, but for the sake of simplicity, two: those leading, those participating) levels of involvement, and I believe it's confusing to conflate them. I think we could have a better wording that reflects the fact that the FWBO is run by people who identify themselves as Buddhists (I've never heard of any who don't), but that many of their activities are open to everyone (which the citation you provided supports). I think that is a better description than your "fellowship of Buddhists and others who follow that fellowship's path of mindfulness" (and as I've said elsewhere, I don't think that "path of mindfulness" is an accurate description of the FWBO's activities).
I don't believe I'm attempting "to declare what belief system is held by another person or other people," but simply to represent clearly how the FWBO is structured. Tathaataa (talk) 14:30, 25 July 2010 (UTC)
There aren't two - one leading and one following - at all. The organization of Buddhists you are striving for is the order. This is plainly a membership organization, and leads/led the movement. Then there are the centres, which are autonomous legal entities which theoretically could go their own way. Then there is a movement of people who (at least until the name change, and now I don't really understand how this is conceptualised) are "friends". That is a self-designation. So is whether someone is a Buddhist. Thus, "Friends of the Western Buddhist Order" was a concept, like "National Health Service", or "peace movement". It didn't/doesn't tangibly exist. It's an activity, not an entity. Thus, in fact, it is not "structured" in the way you suggest at all. In this activity, striving for mindfulness is the core of it all. I think you are trying to impose some kind of corporate/political structure which you are bringing from somewhere else. Bluehotel (talk) 08:36, 26 July 2010 (UTC)

External links[edit]

Wikipedia guidelines on external links detail when such links should be used:

  1. Wikipedia articles about any organization, person, website, or other entity should link to the subject's official site, if any. See Official links below.
  2. An article about a book, a musical score, or some other media should link to a site hosting a copy of the work, if none of the "Links normally to be avoided" criteria apply.
  3. Sites that contain neutral and accurate material that is relevant to an encyclopedic understanding of the subject and cannot be integrated into the Wikipedia article due to copyright issues, amount of detail (such as professional athlete statistics, movie or television credits, interview transcripts, or online textbooks), or other reasons.

The FWBO Files link meets none of these criteria, and I have therefore removed it. Tathaataa (talk) 04:29, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

I have to say that I disagree. I'm familiar with the guidelines. However, they are guidelines. and say nothing denying links to a site like the FWBO Files. The critical issue is the circumstances. The Files have been discussed here over some years, and the consensus position of various editors is that the link should remain. The reason is that it is impossible to give any account of the history of this organisation without reference to the FWBO Files. Indeed, the official history of the movement, just released, explicitly credits this website's influence. I believe that any body wishing to pursue research into the Triatna community would be advised by any neutral observer to read the Files. No factual information is sourced to the Files. It is, rather, a historical document essential to the understanding of this movement's development.
It would be quite tedious now to get the history and quote more substantial sections from it, with references to the Files and - again - links to it which evidence the references. The simpler, proportionate, and more proper approach, IMO, is to restore the link as it was. This is what I have done. I have no interest in the Files or the allegations therin. Nevertheless, it isn't right to expunge this material because it is damaging to the movement (which I think it certainly is), and that it undermines outreach to new friends (which I thinki it does). These are not concerns of an encyclopedia.
If you wish to delete this link again, I think the most appropriate next step is to add additional material from the new book (it says things like that there was an informal agreement reached that FWBO teachers and team members would not proposition those coming for meditation or dharma talks while on the premises etc). This material, in fact, is, to me, more damaging than the Files (and a lot funnier). Also, we could get non-Buddhist editors involved to adjuducate a way forward. The choice is yours, really.
In addition, I have to say that I do believe that you must either be a Triatna order or team member, as the overwhelming majority of your edits on wikipedia have been to pursue the most orthodox FWBO leadership agenda: both over FWBO and over its founder, where you have also been heavily involved in promoting his image. Notwithstanding your previous denial, I do believe it's hard to imagine that you don't have a conflict of interest under Wiki guidelines.Bluehotel (talk) 07:18, 3 October 2010 (UTC)

Do you have a conflict of interest?[edit]

Tathaataa, I've become somewhat concerned by the drift of your editing. My feeling is that you are a member of the Order, and that you possibly have a mission here to change this entry in a way that some people might feel was an effort to sanitise it.

I don't want to get into a huge edit war, but I think we are heading towards that. You must accept that there has been longstanding and credible criticism of FWBO, especially from the "FWBO" files. Numerous editors have been through this matter here. We are aware that the FWBO files are not strictly reliable. However, they have been immensely influential on the development of FWBO, and shouldn't be airbrushed out.

In addition, I see that you have moved Sangharakshita up the entry, suggesting to me (with your many edits on his page) that you are a disciple. If so, you should cease making edits on these pages, as you have a conflict of interest under Wikipedia's principles.

On the matter of Sangharakshita, from what I know of FWBO's history, it is really him and FWBO who assert that he "founded" it. They are perfectly entitled to call him their founder, of course. But as an encyclopaedic fact I doubt very much indeed whether FWBO was founded by one person. Almost for certain (and I think I've seen names from time to time), there were several people involved. I don't think FWBO was ever a sangha of one.

These small things are important. I do think that, overall, your edits on this page have sometimes become rather unhelpful and quite ideological. The difficulty is that you will trigger a reaction, and a great deal of hatred will begin to be laid down here, after a couple of years of relative peace. Bluehotel (talk) 10:40, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

The short answer is no, I do not have a conflict of interest. My interest is in having an accurate, balanced Wikipedia article. My interest is in being a good Wikipedian (one who has an interest in the FWBO). I'm bothered by an article that hovers between being "The FWBO Files by Proxy" and a press release written by an FWBO publicity officer, and the idea that we should continue with a bad article because it might stir up the FWBO's critics if we try to improve it is not one I'm prepared to accept. I've removed material that was not supported by the citations offered, and I've added material supportive of the FWBO because an article lead does not fulfill its intended function is it reflects only criticisms of the FWBO but not the appreciative appraisals that have been made by reliable, published sources.
I have no wish to "airbrush" out the FWBO Files. I removed that link (if that's what you're referring to) because the link contravenes Wikipedia's policies. I moved Sangharakshita up the article because he's central to the FWBO's history and character. The purpose of the lead article is to give a concise overview of the article. The emphasis given to material in the lead should "reflect its importance to the topic" (according to Wikipedia). Sangharakshita is not of secondary or tertiary importance in the history or character of the FWBO, nor in its problems and controversies. The FWBO would not exist without him. More than one commentator has made the point that the FWBO is Sangharakshita writ large. He's of primary importance to the topic, and thus needs to be mentioned close to the start of the article's lead section.
By the way, I know that there were ordained Buddhists from several traditions at the founding of the FWBO, but as far as I'm aware Sangharakshita was solely responsible for setting up the FWBO a year earlier. I've never seen any suggestion otherwise — at least from a reliable source. Tathaataa (talk) 14:59, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

Deleted paragraph[edit]

I've deleted a paragraph tagged requesting a citation since June 2009. It said that the old controversies were seen to have been beneficial. But there doesn't seem to be any evidence of this. This is a shame, and I think may flow from Sangarakshita's critical failure to explain himself after the allegations in the 1990s. Anyhow, it's gone. If anyone can credibly source the claim, by all means put it back. Bluehotel (talk) 17:44, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

Insight Meditation, etc.[edit]

Curious about why the Insight Meditation Society is mentioned in this Article as Triratna Buddhism or FWBO Buddhism has absolutely nothing to do with the Insight Group on so many levels. Any reference to Jack Kornfield and Insight, and Vipassana for that matter should be deleted, as are not true. It seems to me that mentioning them here is a way of trying to legitimize the TBC out of it's low man on the Buddhist Totem pole. FWBO or TBC is more of an combination of the teaching of Sangharakshita, Tibetan traditions and what ever Teacher at the time wants to focus on.


"Jack Kornfield, Gil Fronsdal and the Insight Meditation Society, which insist that mindfulness is essential to Buddhism, but that Buddhism is not essential to mindfulness"

Ox108 (talk) 14:09, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

Presumably the reason it is mentioned is because this is an enclycopedia, and not a sectarian navel-gaze. If you can explain what "are not true", please do. Any scruitiny of TBC activities and those of the Insight Meditation Society show them to be very similar, if not identical, in their approach to meditation. I suppose an expert on the subject might suggest that IMS tends to have a greater emphasis on the belly during anapanasati, but I'm not aware of an RS for that. Your talk of a "Buddhist Totem pole" and a "low man" suggest that you are not a Buddhist, or that your resort to such hate speech suggests that you might usefully refocus your energies. Bluehotel (talk) 11:46, 9 July 2011 (UTC)