I have a Blog and a lot of people come to learn Buddhism in it. I want to start doing articles on Theravada Buddhism and i do not have any idea if i can do it without being a bit corrosive in certain topics. I want some advice how to do this.

So can you guys help me?

  • There has been a language error and i did not expected this kind of replies to my question. I thank everyone who answered this question and i am sorry for my bad use of English. I am closing this question. – Theravada Dec 31 '15 at 20:30
  • Question closed as per request. – user2424 Jan 2 '16 at 10:57

It is most honorable to do whatever you can so that people who take what you give take it smoothly. However, what you can do in this area is limited.

To paraphrase Lama Tsongkhapa, if he who receives what you give is like a vessel turned upside down (not open to listen, to receive) nothing will enter; If he is like a leaking vessel (forgetful, not paying attention), whatever will enter will not remain; If he is like a dirty vessel (having a faulty motivation) the pure nectar you will pour in by way of teaching the Dharma will turn to mud.

However, there are things you can do to make sure people listen to you with an open mind. For instance, one is likely to be open if you are an example. If a beggar was to tell me the same thing my teacher tells me, it would not sink in in the same way because I would not be as open as I am in relation to my teacher. This is because I have more respect to my teacher, I trust him and I trust his words, his guidance, his intentions. Therefore, that your reader trust you is important. If he does not trust you, his ears will be closed. And in order to be trusted, you have to be trustworthy, you have to be exemplar, for instance in showing respect for others and other traditions. Maybe you can include Links to websites of other traditions on your blog, as a sign of openness, and interest from your part.

Moreover, I noticed that in the West, many people prefer being told that "it is a method, it is a practice, it is a path among many others, and it works in this and that way" as opposed to "it is the truth". We like being right, we hate being wrong, we dislike being proven wrong. So, if you emphasize (1) the practical aspects and (2) contexts, that might help not dwelling to much on the 'right or wrong' type of approach.

Finally, I visited my teacher recently. I also, tend to be a bit corrosive with regard certain topics and debating with him showed me that it was due to my own pride, my own arrogance. It's always the "I know, others do not" tendency, or the "How could anyone even think in this or that way?" tendency that tends to take over. If you reduce your pride, you will naturally be smoother and more respectful.

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  • I heard the "upturned pot" analogy once long ago, not sure why I don't see it more. I wonder if the respect of teacher at the expense of respect for beggar is two sides of the same thing? Also arrogance: "My teacher is so great that I have the truth!" I prefer something useful or effective to something true. There is lots of information out there nowadays, which I have no useful application for. People are often very goal-oriented. – user2341 Apr 14 '17 at 18:05

The Buddha said that in teaching/conversing with members of other sects, first establish common ground, then discourse within that universe of discourse on the basis of truth.

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  • Mr. Alexander Duncan, Atma is just this moment not aware of such an advice. But maybe its just the formulation. Could Mr Duncan provide and resource of this statement? – Samana Johann Dec 30 '15 at 0:26
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    These are common notions found throughout the Pali Canon. However, I will provide specific references in the next day or two, since you asked. In the meantime, consider the Buddha's practice of visiting gatherings of ascetics of competing sects at parks and gazebos in the vicinity, early in the morning before alms round. – user4970 Dec 30 '15 at 4:05
  • Atma does such often, not only consider. Just being back form alms and before. Sadhu for your will and effort to do such. – Samana Johann Dec 30 '15 at 4:11
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    Some examples of situations where the Buddha demonstrates the principle of finding common ground are DN 1, 3, 5, 8, and 31; and cap. 1 of Bhikku Bodhi's In the Buddha's Words. With respect to "the basis of truth," see MN 56. – user4970 Dec 31 '15 at 0:13
  • "the basis of truth" is accepted, yes of course and we can use this as our ground here. If such is, than go on. But in no way seeking "first establish common ground" as such would require you to step down from the first, Mr Alexander Duncan. One could of course search for a base truth reachable for the other and lift him/here up to a broader view out of this base, of course. (btw. Atma does not have Dhammabooks sold in shops, so no way to read such.) – Samana Johann Dec 31 '15 at 0:27

Its good to ask one self, "what do I like to gain?" And then it's good, to ask one self, "what would I need to sacrify?"

The rest is then a consideration of which way one likes to take. One is the journey to nibbana, the other wandering on in Samsara.

As for how the Buddha saw this point very clear, this Sutta might help you, to have no doubt of what you actually have already in the back of your considerations, as reason for this question: Abhaya Sutta: To Prince Abhaya So no "mercy", either in this or in that direction. One no mercy is for your and the benefit of many, the other is for not for your benefit nor for that of many, and your possibilities in action, are simply a matter of karmic-depended "accidents"

Especially if you talk on Dhamma or what the Buddha taught, keep always this sutta in mind: AN 4.83: Avannaraha Sutta - Dispraise

The Truth stands above the wish for harmony, since it is actually real harmony, aside of notions of attachment.

As for respect, just to be informed. For a Bhikkhu within the affliction of the Buddha, giving any sign for respect to Wanderers of other sects or to Bhikkhus who deserve "punishment" would be a fault. In the case there is a wanderer of another sect, even so, if he/she speaks Dhamma, its proper to pay respect.

As for one who does not really know now, of what is Dhamma and what is Adhamma, its good to be critical and respectful in both directions of course but bring them together and listen carefully about there arguments and reasoning.

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  • Why is zugangzureinsicht content not shareable on this site? FYI I usually assume that it's Fair use to include (as referenced/attributed quotes) small extracts (e.g. a paragraph or two). – ChrisW Dec 30 '15 at 19:26
  • So it is with accesstoinsight's and with every dhamma given in line with Dhamma, may one uses this question, Upasaka Chris. Sorry for making you maybe troubles with that. It has nothing to do with fare use, if somebody asks you if he could sell a little of your Dhamma, so agree that it is sold. Its not a legal thing, its a little above. Fare use is a try to decriminalize criminality and only known is US and some other states. – Samana Johann Dec 30 '15 at 19:30

As a Buddhist priest who has struggled with being too "caustic" in both that and other realms (music criticism, etc.) I have found that being explicit with your concerns about your own ability to address certain topics is good, in two ways. Firstly, it sends the message to those listening that you are thinking about how best to convey your topic. Second, it is a reminder to deepen your practice.

I am concerned, though. You seem to indicate that you are a monk, but in your statements on this thread you seem pretty confused about Buddhism. Are you part of a tradition where you can find someone (abbot, dharma teacher, etc.) who can mentor you through this process? I'm concerned about someone who claims to "teach Buddhism" yet not really know much about it.

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  • Spoken of confused: Atma is a little bit confused of whom Mr. JigokuBosatsu is talking about, since the question raiser whom you answer here (Mr. Theravada), does not seems to be a Priest nor a Monk. So just that there is no misunderstanding out of confusion. – Samana Johann Dec 30 '15 at 0:33
  • I don't think it's an unreasonable concern to have. The question raiser references his blog, and on that blog he wears a saffron robe and has segments titled "Ask a Monk". – JigokuBosatsu Dec 30 '15 at 1:17
  • Is mr. JigokuBosatsu sure? There are many pictures and videos of monks there on this page. Atma is not able to really load this page, since it has so many scripts and his connection is a 56Kb one. "Ask a Monk" could be Ven. Bhante Yutthadammo, as such is his "lable". Mr. Dhamma Sith as assumed being Mr. Theravada here does not display a picture of a person. It would be not good to discourage enthusiastic lay followers in there experiments in the way it would be maybe proper in regard of someone who gives the notion of being someone who knows. – Samana Johann Dec 30 '15 at 1:27
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    Us discussing this doesn't seem to be helpful, considering there seems to be a language barrier, and it's not really in the spirit of Stacked change. I had a concern/question regarding the OP. He can address it at his leisure. – JigokuBosatsu Dec 30 '15 at 1:49
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    Hello @JigokuBosatsu, welcome. We've put together some tips for new users asking and answering questions on the site. – user382 Dec 30 '15 at 5:35

(note: Quotes have been taken form the discussion here and are form Mr. Theravada, the questioner)

For example if you try to explain the reason for the sudden rise of extremist terrorism it is hard to explain it without looking like an Anti-islamic explanation. As you can see these things are complicated and when asked we must answer too.

It is not always necessary to answer: i.e. "when asked we must answer too", does not apply.

For example there are various questions which the Buddha famously left unanswered because answers to those questions wouldn't have been helpful.

Sometimes "the only winning move is not to play".

So what is your thought on this?

Someone asked that question (about a reason for terrorism) on Parenting.SE and I tried to answer it there.

The people (teachers) who teach children are trained that the doctrines and teaching materials must be "age appropriate" or "developmentally appropriate".

I judged it better to not even try to explain (and inevitably mis-explain) "terrorists' motives" to school children.

For example when people believe something like this, "Killing a non believe is a good thing and they will have heaven for that" it is clearly dumb and it will only feed a genocide. But some religions have these in their core.

I classify that as "hate speech". I'm unwilling to believe it.

And these innocent people ask us what should be the reason they should believe otherwise we must answer in a way that would make them understand while remaining respectful for their own belief as they are not still out of it.

You can perhaps use an 'I-message', something like, "The Dhammapada says that, Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal."

By doing that you might hope to talk about Buddhism, instead of talking about some hopelessly misunderstood version of something else.

People see with their ego and see everyone like themselves.


it is their own dilemma to deal with.

Buddhism teaches "a middle way between extremes"; so Buddhists can beware of engaging in so-called 'false dilemmas', for example:

  • "Is it better to be starving, or to be a glutton?" -- no.
  • "Is it better to kill or to be killed" -- no.
  • "Is it better to attack or to defend" -- no.
  • "What's the reason for the sudden rise in extremist terrorism?" -- no.

Another thing is that Buddhism is clever at identifying abstractions: abstractions like "aversion", "Taṇhā", etc. Applying (or not applying) those abstractions to real-world (or not-so-real-world) entities takes something else (some other kind of skill, experience, I'm not sure what).

Still I find that Buddhism when it talks about abstractions isn't very insulting or corrosive: so keeping the talk quite abstract or non-specific, can be helpful (although, to be honest, people may not want to hear even the first noble truth).

So (about abstraction), saying "hatred isn't proper" is quite abstract and not specifically insulting anyone. Saying "you hate and therefore you're hateful" would be a lot more specific and a lot worse; so keeping things abstract is one way to avoid offending.

Maybe it's non-corrosive to teach general tools, vocabulary, logic, practical behaviour, and let other people accept and apply it in their own mind/life/time.

Another thing though (i.e. the opposite extreme) is that people can get to arguing about abstractions when they would have no argument about more concrete subjects.

Someone once suggested that I could categorize topics of conversation according to how near or far, how personal or impersonal, they are:

  • The distant past or distant future is further away than the present
  • The far away (distant in space) is more impersonal than what's here
  • Talking about other people is more impersonal than talking about ourselves (you and me, or our families)

Anything reported in the mass media tends to be very distant: it's reporting on events which aren't now, aren't here, and aren't you and me.

In a way it's easier to argue about what's impersonal than what's personal: for example we could argue about who has the better football team; or for example people say rude things on the internet because they think they're anonymous or because they don't know who they're talking to.

Also in a way we don't know things which aren't here and now (and because we don't know them we argue about them, like the sectarians can argue about the elephant). Look at how the how the concept of "papañca" is kind of central in the essay, Non-violence -- A Study Guide.

I'm quite fond of the suttas. Thanissaro Bhikkhu's article about non-violence (referenced above), for example, is nothing but quotations from the suttas. Many of the other articles too, on Access to Insight, quote extensively from and/or are based on the suttas.

So maybe that is another hint: one way to ensure that the articles you write aren't too corrosive could be to base them closely on suttas -- try to defer to, try to quote, the Buddha-vacana where possible. You said, "it is very easy to look wise while saying really wise quotes" as if that's a bad thing, but I think that's kind of the point: not to look wise, but to try to make wisdom, wise quotes available.

Lastly you may be writing some 'mixed messages' here, for example:

  • i do not have any idea if i can do it without being a bit corrosive in certain topics
  • what i meant was not that i'm a very furious person

These might be contradictory: can you be "a bit corrosive" and yet "not furious"?

  • when asked we must answer too

Are you able to explain 'liberation' even if you feel 'compelled' to answer?

Returning to the subject of what's near and "personal", perhaps you're supposed to notice how you're feeling: if you're feeling angry, compelled, anxious, thirsty, (or a bit corrosive in certain topics) then that mightn't be an especially conducive state to be teaching.

Or maybe it's those "certain topics" which are better avoided.

Or maybe they're topics in investigate: do you know other teachings that are "a bit corrosive", do you understand why they have that effect, can you do or be the opposite (e.g. "non-hatred" instead of "hatred")? Or use impermanence: what is, after corrosiveness has come and gone?

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    Thank you. I was beginning to read this earlier today (the reference to Ajahn Chah), and I watched a video, and I thought, "what a lot of good (Buddhist) writing there is (already, in the world)". Instead of or as preparation for "doing articles" you could also collect references to other people's articles; and comment on them, add commentary: reference them, add 'tags' or keywords (like this site uses) to help find content/topics, classify (categorize) them, and comment on them - say why they're good, why you like them, why you recommend them. – ChrisW Dec 31 '15 at 20:54
  • Thanks again, This is a good idea. I have a little hardware problem with my pc, so i'm currently functioning at the smallest level possible. If you know about computers, i am running this on a 256 RAM now! Yeah i know it sounds crazy but got to help people somehow. I will expand with these ideas once i have the PC going again. By the way check out by blog and give be some ideas as well if you can. – Theravada Jan 4 '16 at 20:26

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