User:Robertinventor/Buddhism Articles DRN Notice Details

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PLEASE NOTE THIS IS A DRAFT AND NOT MEANT FOR DISCUSSION AT THIS STAGE

For short version, see DRN Notice Draft

Contents

Dispute overview[edit | hide all | hide | edit source]

Joshua Jonathan, assisted by Victoria Grayson and Jim Renge, recently did rapid major revisions of several mature articles on central topics in Buddhism.

The dispute is about whether we should accept these changes or do a rollback followed by slower, consensus based editing.

Bold rapid rewrites of mature articles[edit | hide | edit source]

JJ, VG and JR did a bold rapid rewrite of several articles including Karma in Buddhism, Four Noble Truths, Nirvana (Buddhism), and Anatta. These are mature articles on central topics in Buddhism that previously had only relatively minor changes or new content, for several years.

For the extent of the changes, see the diffs (arranged in order of the rewrites):

  • For Anatta, see [5] - rewrite started 10th July 2014
  • For Four Noble Truths: [6] - rewrite started 14th October 2014
  • For Karma in Buddhism: [7] - rewrite started 3rd November 2014
  • For Nirvana (Buddhism): [8] - rewrite started 11th November 2014

They have also rewritten other articles along similar lines, not included here to help keep this discussion focused.

Motivations given for these rewrites[edit | hide | edit source]

To rewrite the articles based on ideas in a book by Carol Anderson[edit | hide | edit source]

JJs rewrites he says are largely motivated by a book by Carol Anderson. For instance, in response to Dorje108, he said: "I understand, of course, that you're not pleased with all those changes. I made them because of some literature I found, especially Batchelor (2012) and Anderson (1999)...". See Talk:Four Noble Truths (archived).

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Comments: Anderson's conclusion is that the original teachings were much simpler than the teachings traditionally attributed to the Buddha, possibly as simple as just a statement of a middle way between extremes.

None of us have any issue here with his inclusion of her POV. Her book is scholarly and a worthy endeavour to attempt to recover the "ur texts" of the Buddha. The issue is his exclusion of all other POVs on the subject, and of material criticising her ideas. Scholarly writings on this topic cover a complete spectrum of views, from those who think the teachings of the Buddha were largely as described in the canon to those like Anderson who think that only a few fragments survive as originally taught. See #POV that the original teachings of the Buddha were much simpler
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Comments: Another issue for us here is his use of her book to motivate a simpler presentation of the topics. There are many issues here. First of all her 1999 book is a book intended to be read by other scholars. She never suggests that Therevadhan Buddhists should present the teachngs differently as a result of her conclusions.

Indeed she wrote a 2013 book "Basic Buddhism" which goes into the details of Therevadhan Buddhism exactly as traditionally presented, complete with first sermon with Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path (her 1999 book presented her view that these were not in the original first sermon.). Also, everyone agrees that the sutras which the Mahayana schools rely on were composed between 500 and 1000 years after the life of the Buddha.

So, to suggest that her 1999 book should be taken as a basis for JJs recent rewrites of articles on Buddhism, at this stage, would seem to us to be WP:OR (because no cite has been given for anyone else who proposes this use of her book) in addition to POV (relying on only one view of many in this complex debate), and to also go against the views of Anderson herself. For details see #Why we consider that JJ's use of Anderson's book as motivation for his rewrites is OR and POV

He often mentions her book as a motivation for his major edits.

To remove detailed treatments of topics[edit | hide | edit source]

In his view, many of the articles needed to be simplified.

In the case of Karma in Buddhism he gave several "clean up summary" comments to explain his motivation when I challenged his edits: Summary of clean-up.

Also see: Further explanation (#3?) where he says "The basic problem is the focus on a detailed exposition of the workings of karma, instead the simple notion that the understanding of karma as a "fact" of life urges one to strife for liberation.", and again, gives Anderson's book as a motivation.

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Comments: Many readers of the articles are likely to be interested in views on karma as understood by contemporary Buddhists. Their beliefs about Karma haven't changed as a result of Andersons book - indeed few Buddhists know about it (her book has only 18 citations in Google scholar).

Even if her views got accepted more widely in the scholarly community, this is would not be likely to change the way contemporary Buddhists understand the teachings on karma. For instance everyone agrees that the Mahayana sutras are of a later date, with many of them composed over a thousand years after Buddha's life, yet they are central to the ideas and beliefs of Mahayana Buddhists. In the same way surely Buddhists would continue to rely on the Pali canon for the Therevadhan (older) core teachings, even if it were established that most of its teachings were composed at a later date than usually thought.

And anyway, as we've seen, many scholars think that the Pali canon for the large part record teachings of a single person, the historical Buddha. Anderson's POV is one of many.

For an example of one of these many sections, deleted because they give detailed expositions of the workings of karma, see Characteristics of Karma in Buddhism.

For Nirvana (Buddhism) his main motivation in the talk page comments seems to be to remove or simplify detailed treatment of the subject. Talk:Nirvana_(Buddhism)

Note that the content removed is often multiply cited. And this process of simplification often results in removal of many entire sections from the articles.

To remove sections they identify as unnecessary[edit | hide | edit source]

First example: Sections 2 to 8 of the old Karma in Buddhism articles[edit | hide | edit source]

This is the second time they were deleted after an attempted rollback of just those sections: [9]

Second example - removed nearly 80% of the Anatta article in a two day period from 17th to 18th July[edit | hide | edit source]

JJ reduced this article to 21% of its original size with a series of edits all summarized as "shortened" that reduced it from 72,918 bytes to 15,401 bytes in two days [10]. All the content removed is cited content.

A year previously it was 66,189 bytes long, gradually increasing by 6,000 bytes over the previous year as a result of edits by many editors. He wasn't only removing content by a blocked user as he claims on the talk page [11], as no users added anything like that much content to the article over the entire previous year.

This article does seem to have some issues with it and needed work, but the problem is that he just removed many of the sections that needed to be fixed, instead of fixing them.

For one of the sections removed, in Clean up VictoriaGrayson says "Also, who cares about modern movements such as Thai forest tradition? Sounds like an advertisement." then later "I think you should remove all the Thai stuff.".

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Comments: There is a major debate on this topic underway in Thailand ( a Buddhist country with 15% of the World's Buddhist, second largest population of Buddhists after China). It was triggered by the recent and rapidly growing Thai Dhammakaya Movement (founded in the 1970s, ideas originating in the 1930s, built the $1 billion Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple in Bangkok with 200,000 worshipers a day during the retreats [1]).

They consider Anatta to be consistent with atman. Some would question whether these practioners are still Buddhist, when they simultaneously affirm non self and existence of an eternal "soul". The section he removed presented both sides of the debate. A reader would expect an article on Anatta to mention the biggest contemporary controversy on the topic.

For the removed section see Modern Thai movements. It surely needs a fair bit of work - not saying it was perfect. But removing this material goes against the guideline to fix issues rather than to remove material that belongs in a final version of the article.

They removed many other sections from this article with similar motivations, that for one reason or another they consider them to be unnecessary.

For another example, in my view, as someone with a background in Western philosophy, the section Anatta in western Philosophy is an excellent section in the old article which should never have been deleted. S

Third example, contemporary interpretations of the Four Noble Truths[edit | hide | edit source]
VictoriaGrayson: recently removed the entire long, multi sub-section section on contemporary interpretations of the Four Noble Truths

diff: [12] edit summary "no need for contemporary interpretations".

Joshua Jonathan is in agreement with her edit as he didn't restore it or ask for discussion. Note that there is no talk page discussion of this.

Main characteristics of the revisions[edit | hide | edit source]

  1. He uses a short lede of just a couple of sentences
  2. When there are multiple points of view he often presents only one
  3. He removes many detailed sections from the articles as well as more advanced topics that some readers might find hard to follow

The results may be easier to read to a reader new to the subject, and the articles are a fair bit shorter. However, by being POV and leaving out details, in our view they go against the consensus that has been built up by wikipedia editors and recorded in the guidelines, through many debates, that wikipedia should be NPOV and detailed.

POV that the original teachings of the Buddha were much simpler[edit | hide | edit source]

JJ has added passages to the articles presenting a single POV that the original teachings of the Buddha were much simpler than the teachings preserved in the Pali Canon. He presents this material without mention of any criticisms of these views or other POVs. See for instance his sections in:

Also in other articles such as:

and probably others as well.

This is indeed the POV of some scholars in the field, but you could hardly say the matter has been settled in favour of any particular POV.

Scholarly writings on this topic cover a complete spectrum of views, from those who think the teachings of the Buddha were largely as described in the canon to those like Anderson who think that only a few fragments survive as originally taught. Compare Pāli_Canon#Origins for an NPOV treatment of the spectrum of scholarly views on this matter.

Those who attribute the teachings in the Pali canon largely to the Buddha himself include many preeminent Buddhist scholars: Richard Gombrich, Peter Harvey, Prayudh Payutto [13], J.W. de Jong, L. S. Cousins (who did a critical review of Anderson's book), A. Wynne [14], Bhikkhu Sujato [15] and others.

Here Prayudh Payutto is probably at the furthest end of the spectrum of views on this matter from Carol Anderson. He thinks that, in a culture without writing, the earliest sutras in the Pali Canon were preserved pretty much word for word, by monks with great powers of memory, in a similar way to the way that the Vedas were preserved by Brahmins. He uses the examples of modern monks who have memorized the entire canon. He also uses evidence that after the death of the leader of the Jains towards the end of Buddha's life, his monks took especial care to memorize the teachings - starting on the process while he was still alive. [16]

Bhikkhu Sujato in his thesis presents many arguments based on archaeology and the history of technology in Northern India, and internal evidence in the texts themselves - that the early sutras describe the politicial and technological situation at the time of the Buddha, a situation that changed shortly after his death. He particularly mentions introduction of writing (not mentioned at all in early sutras), discovery of South India and Sri Lanka by the Northern Indians, again not mentioned - and the empire of King Asoka, again never mentioned or predicted in the early sutras. [17].

So those in favour of the theory of authenticity have good arguments in their favour as well. You could hardly say that it is settled in Anderson's favour.

You will also see that many other scholars have agnostic views on this matter.

Why we consider that JJ's use of Anderson's book as motivation for his rewrites is OR and POV[edit | hide | edit source]

We have many issues with his use of Anderson's book to motivate a simpler presentation of the topics. In JJ's view, this is closer to the way that the Buddha himself taught. But - whether that is true or not - should this be used to rewrite articles that are intended to present contemporary Buddhism, and views and practices of contemporary Buddhists? Note from Dorje: [2]. What Andi said about this in a talk page discussion: [3]

Anderson made it clear in her 1999 book that she does not intend her work to be used in a revisionary way to change which teachings Buddhists accept or how they interpret them. Note from Robert with quote from Anderson where she makes this clear: [4].

In 2013 she made this abundantly clear in her book "Basic Buddhism: A Beginner's guide"[18]. It makes no attempt at a simplification of the Buddha's teachings based on her 1999 book. Instead it has a detailed conventional Therevadhan account of the Buddha's life, four signs, departure from palace, etc, enlightenement at a particular point of time under the Bodhi tree, etc. She also presents and discusses his first sermon, with both the four noble truths and noble eightfold path included in his sermon (her 1999 book put forward the hypothesis that his first sermon didn't include either of these).

In her 2013 book, she writes

"It is extremely difficult to determine with complete certainty the absolute truth of the Buddha's teachings ... Despite these difficulties the three main ideals characterized in the first dharma talk after the Buddha's enlightenment are to this day still considered core beliefs accepted by all schools of Buddhist practice. These are the ideals of the Middle Way, the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path".

and later:

"The Four Noble Truths deal specifically with the existence of suffering and they are the root from which all teachings arise. According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths in the very first teaching he gave after he attained enlightenment and he further clarified their meaning in many subsequent teachings throughout his life.".

JJ hasn't given any citations for any other scholars, or Buddhist teachers either, suggesting that presentations of the teachings of Therevadhan Buddhism, never mind Mahayana Buddhism, should be simplified, based on her 1999 book.

As her work concerns the older Pali Canon, it has no implications for Mahayana sutras. All scholars agree that these were composed at various times between 500 and a thousand years after the Buddha's lifetime. Yet, in full knowledge of this, Mahayana Buddhists have no problem relying on the various Mahayana sutra canons in their understanding of Buddhism.

So, to suggest that her 1999 book should be taken as a basis for JJs recent rewrites of articles on Buddhism, at this stage, would seem to us to be WP:OR (because no cite has been given for anyone else who proposes this use of her book) in addition to POV (relying on only one view of many in this complex debate), and to also go against the views of Anderson herself.

Main issues[edit | hide | edit source]

Some of the main issues involved with his edits are:

  1. WP:OR Original research in his presentation of key Buddhist concepts, for example his rewrite of the Four Noble Truths [19] (see below for details) and for other examples, see [20] - and [21] - this violates
    1. The phrase "original research" (OR) is used on Wikipedia to refer to material—such as facts, allegations, and ideas—for which no reliable, published sources exist. This includes any analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to reach or imply a conclusion not stated by the sources. The prohibition against OR means that all material added to articles must be attributable to a reliable published source, even if not actually attributed Wikipedia:No original research
  2. Not WP:CAUTIOUS: Does major edits that change overall focus, weighting and slant of the articles without consensus of other editors, and without much prior discussion (none at all in case of Karma in Buddhism). This violates
    1. A major edit should be reviewed to confirm that it is consensual to all concerned editors ( Help:Editing#Major_edits) and
    2. Boldness should not mean trying to impose edits against existing consensus or in violation of core policies, such as Neutral point of view and Verifiability. Fait accompli actions, where actions are justified by their having already been carried out, are inappropriate. Wikipedia:Editing_policy#Talking_and_editing
  3. WP:POV A tendency, when there are multiple views, to present only one of these, which he evaluates as the "correct view".

    For an example, see his Critical Historical Analysis in his current version of the Four Noble Truths article, which presents only the POV of Anderson's 1999 book and her interpretation of Bronkhurst's work (and has no mention of L. S. Cousins's criticism of her book). Compare that with Pāli Canon#Origins which presents a wide range of scholarly views on this topic of the authenticity or inauthenticity of various sutras the Pali Canon as the teachings of the Buddha. For more on this see #POV that the original teachings of the Buddha were much simpler

    This violates NPOV guidelines such as
    1. The neutral point of view does not mean exclusion of certain points of view, but including all verifiable points of view which have sufficient due weight.
    2. Avoid stating seriously contested assertions as facts.
  4. Doesn't WP:PRESERVE: Replaces sections describing complex topics with a single sentence summary or often removes them completely. See #To remove sections they identify as unnecessary. This violates
    1. Preserve appropriate content. As long as any of the facts or ideas added to the article would belong in a "finished" article, they should be retained if they meet the requirements of the three core content policies: Neutral point of view (which doesn't mean No point of view), Verifiability and No original research. Wikipedia:Editing_policy#Try_to_fix_problems
  5. Doesn't follow MOS:INTRO - he has a short lede (for most of the articles). For the originals, see Karma in Buddhism, Anatta, and Four Noble Truths, and compare with the latest version of each article. Delibzr has just commented on this in the four noble truths article: [22]. For complex subjects like this a long lede is often appropriate, see Reimann Hypothesis for example. This goes against the Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Lead_section#Provide_an_accessible_overview such as:
    1. The lead section should briefly summarize the most important points covered in an article in such a way that it can stand on its own as a concise version of the article.
  6. Removal of material of special interest to present day Buddhists, and to those interested in the beliefs of contemporary Buddhists (e.g. his removal of the Characteristics of Karma in Buddhism and Modern Thai movements). - violates the same policy Wikipedia:Editing_policy#Try_to_fix_problems
  7. Reliance on often rather obscure Western academics in preference to material from well known Eastern Buddhist scholars (the Buddhist equivalent of Christian theologians) and other Western academics that criticize his preferred sources or present alternate views - another NPOV issue, and subject of the recent RfC: Are texts written by Buddhist writers and teachers that explain basic Buddhist concepts reliable secondary sources?
  8. Removal of most of the quotes in footnotes. The guidelines say: Wikipedia:Citing_sources#Additional_annotation
    1. A footnote may also contain a relevant exact quotation from the source. This is especially helpful when the cited text is long or dense. A quotation allows readers to immediately identify the applicable portion of the reference. Quotes are also useful if the source is not easily accessible.
  9. Mistakes introduced as a result of rapid edits, including misunderstandings of the sources cited in the previous mature articles. Many examples but here is a simple case to present. When moving text from one section to another in the article, he loses the significant qualification "Abhidharma Buddhism and later developments" so that the sentence about storage of karmic results in seeds erroneously becomes a statement about Buddhism as a whole, see diff: [23]. This was eventually moved into a new article where it becomes part of the unattributed second sentence of the lede here: Development of Karma in Buddhism now phrased as "a major problem for Buddhism".
  10. Statements in the Lede that are not taken up in the article - making the lede a kind of a fork of the article itself (same examples as before, at least when originally introduced)
  11. Confusing edit summaries and talk page comments. He frequently uses "ce" or "added info" to describe edits that introduce significant and controversial material. And he often removes sections by first shortening, then moving them, then removing what is left, in a rapid sequence of edits. As an example, he removed the Thai Anatta / Atman debate over a twelve hour period with several edit summaries: Shortened followed by moving it upwards and then finally removed what was left with the summary WP:UNDO by which time it shows up in the edit history as "Nibbana and anatta", instead of "The Thai Dhammakaya Movement’s Teachings on Non-Self". The only way I could find out where it was removed is by stepping through the history. And in talk page posts, he refers to major edits as "Clean up". And referred to legitimate use of BRD as WP:OWN - see below. This all makes it hard to judge what happened to the articles from his edit summaries or talk page posts.

With so many issues involved and so many changes made so rapidly, it is hard to resolve it with RfCs or talk page discussions. Discussions get rapidly caught up in details of one of the many issues involved.

Differences of opinion[edit | hide | edit source]

We also have two major differences of opinion. These are not edit conduct issues themselves but add to the complexity of the discussions.

In our view these should have been resolved first via RfCs before he did the rewrites, especially as he had discussed them previously and it was clear that there was no consensus amongst other editors in support of his views.

Difference in opinion on use of bikkhu scholars and other scholars trained in Eastern traditions as primary sources[edit | hide | edit source]

Here a bikkhu just means someone who has taken the Buddhist monk's or nun's vows. Some bikkhus however follow a scholarly path and take scholarly qualifications - which differ according to the school of Buddhism. The collections of sutras are vast, thousands of pages, and they often make cryptic references to each other as they are addressed to an audience assumed to be thoroughly familiar with the other sutras. So we are often reliant on scholars for clarification. Scholarship has long been held in high regard and is of great importance in Buddhism, at least as far back as Buddhaghosa (Therevadha, 5th century), and Nagarjuna (Mahayana, 150–250 CE).

In guidelines on Verifiability - Reliable Sources

"The best sources have a professional structure in place for checking or analyzing facts, legal issues, evidence, and arguments. The greater the degree of scrutiny given to these issues, the more reliable the source."

"Editors may also use material from reliable non-academic sources, particularly if it appears in respected mainstream publications. Other reliable sources include:
university-level textbooks
books published by respected publishing houses
magazines
journals
mainstream newspapers."

.

The works of the likes of the Dalai Lama (as one of the few to have trained in all four of the Tibetan schools of Buddhism, widely respected for his learning), Walpola Rahula, Prayudh Payutto, Bikkhu Boddhi etc fulfill these requirements. Published by respected publishing houses. Some of them are in academic journals. Some of them are used as text books in university courses on Buddhist studies.

JJ is of the opinion that these texts should be used in moderation and as "primary sources". In his view they need to be interpreted by reference to works by Western academics that discuss them. In this, as usual, he is supported by Victoria Grayson and Jim Renge.

Dorje, and myself are of the opinion that these sources can stand alone on their own right and don't need to be re-interpreted. We regard their use as similar to the use of works by Western theologians in articles on Christianity.

Of course this doesn't mean at all that we should uncritically accept all bikkhu scholars or geshes or khenpos etc as sources. Though many are excellent, there are also a fair few who present unusual and controversial views. But exactly the same happens with Western academics. We believe it needs to be dealt with on a case by case basis.

There are also, of course, many excellent Western academics, such as Peter Harvey or Richard Gombrich widely respected for their Buddhist scholarship.

I think Scientific Quest put it best in his reply to JJ on Talk:Anatta

"All that said, I would like to still record my disagreement with some of you on one matter. I do NOT think that authors of peer-reviewed Journal papers would necessarily have a good understanding on matters of religious doctrine. I can say this being a person in the field, and being an academic myself. There are a lot of quacks out there in academia and it is not worth the time and energy of a serious researcher to rebut the poorly researched Journal articles of some other quack. And if a good researcher does write a rebuttal, his rebuttal would be published as citing the first crappy article!! This is not the case in the sciences - there if an experimental result is not verifiable, a Journal can retract a paper. But in areas like philosophy, where each philosopher is himself/herself allowed to interpret another philosophy, it is next to impossible to get papers retracted. Instead, both the poorly researched paper and the good paper get published as two different points of view! I know this first-hand because I have to sift through the crap for my master's thesis."

"But more importantly, when we talk of doctrinal matters, we are talking about what people in the religious community actually believe - not the history or socio-political context of the scriptures or anything. For the latter, I agree that peer-reviewed Journal papers would be better to cite. But for an encyclopedia to present a truthful unbiased fact on matters of religious doctrine, it should take into account what the practicing religious community actually thinks about that doctrine, rather than solely relying on academic quacks who don't really practice the religion. And Anatta is a matter of doctrine - not history or science.

"I agree that sources like Bhikkhu X or Bhikkhu Y shouldn't be used exclusively, that is, I believe they can be used, along with other secondary sources if available - but if not available, then used along with other primary sources to get a proportionate balance of views in the article. But I feel that their scholarship does have an overriding effect on doctrinal matters - not on historical or socio-political matters. This is especially because they're world-wide reputed, cited widely by other scholars, and their written works are actually used as textbooks in universities - now that fact alone potentially qualifies such a source as a secondary source by own standards. I know that Chris asked me to cite those that cite Bhikkhu X and Bhikkhu Y. But many of them cite them in a way that doesn't represent the actual religious idea, but proposes some of their own novel ideas which the religious community at large doesn't believe! Not all secondary sources are like that, some are good - and that's why I have agreed to produce secondary sources too.

"However, if it is a matter of the history of a religion, or the history of a religious text, then I fully agree that peer-reviewed Journal papers are more reliable on the average."

This is the only one to be subject of an RfC so far. There was much discussion of the Wording of RfC and related issues as well as particular cases of sources. The RfC was closed with the conclusion "No consensus". The admin closing it made the point that a source may be simultaneously a secondary and a primary source, depending on the author's personal connection with the subject matter, referring us to WP:ANALYSIS.

"Whether a source is primary or secondary depends on context. A book by a military historian about the Second World War might be a secondary source about the war, but if it includes details of the author's own war experiences, it would be a primary source about those experiences."

For the RfC and closing comments see RfC: Are texts written by Buddhist writers and teachers that explain basic Buddhist concepts reliable secondary sources?

Difference of opinion on quotes[edit | hide | edit source]

This has often been brought up as if it is the main point. It is a significant difference of opinion, yes - but only one of many, and is not itself a potential breach of editing guidelines. Just a difference of view, but like the previous one, it adds to the complexity of the discussions and makes resolution of the issues harder.

Citing WP:QUOTEFARM, JJ edited the articles so that they have few quotes, all short, and with most of the previous quotes now paraphrased or the topics not mentioned. His paraphrases are also often extremely short - he summarizes an entire section in a single sentence, or leaves it out altogether.

For example, all four sections of the previous Characteristics of Karma are now replaced by this paragraph Complex process.

Note, ironically, it turns out that he has himself created articles that are nearly pure WP:QUOTEFARM [24], as well as breaches of WP:COPYVIO which he is now fixing. See [25].

Wikipedia:Quotations says:

"Quotations are a fundamental attribute of Wikipedia. Quotations—often informally called "quotes"—provide information directly; quoting a brief excerpt from an original source can sometimes explain things better and less controversially than trying to explain them in one's own words."

There are various guidelines, such as

  • "Quotes shouldn't replace plain, concise text. Intersperse quotations with original prose that comments on those quotations instead of constructing articles out of quotations with little or no original prose."

The original versions of the articles intersperse the quotes with a fair amount of original prose, and in our view accord with this guideline. See Karma in Buddhism (old version before JJs edits).

Our view is that the likes of Walpola Rahula, the Dalai Lama, Prayudh Payutto, and other teachers have made it their life's work to find better ways to present the Buddha's teachings to a modern audience. In many cases we feel that there is no way that a wikipedia editor will present the ideas better than they do.

Several benefits follow from this

  • As already said, the quotes present the ideas with greater clarity and simplicity because the authors have often devoted much of their lives to finding the best way to express such concepts.
  • Often there are subtle differences in the ways an idea is presented in the different schools. Particularly, it helps to have the same idea from Mahayana and Therevadhan perspectives. And sometimes good to have it as presented by a Western scholar too.
  • We can attribute the quote, and a reader who wants to find out more about how that particular author understnads the topic can then go to the source. While in the case of text written by JJ or another wikipedian - it is unattributed, so they have nowhere to go if they want to follow it up in detail.

I recently made a suggestion that it would help to say in the text which school the author belongs to. Here is one of Dorje's sections, which Andi attempted to put back into the article incorporating this suggestion.

Karmic results are nearly impossible to predict with precision. However this change was immediately reverted by Victoria Grayson.

Dorje has said that he is happy to paraphrase the passages if that is what we have to. But he says it is a job that will take a fair bit of time. Also, he prefers not to do this for the reasons given of attribution and that the original sources present it better than he could.

As another consideration: it seems likely that editors might well disagree on how to paraphrase some of the quotes.

As Dorje put it in the debate on the Four Noble Truths talk page:

"As far as the quotes in the main body of the article, the reason that I included many quotes is because the authors are expressing a point very clearly. To try to rewrite or paraphrase the quotes would take considerable time and effort to little effect. Certainly some of the quotes could be paraphrased more, but this task should be undertaken slowly and carefully. I see no benefit to the readers for make these changes hastily because of an arbitrary decision that there are "too many quotes"

As CompleteTuring put it in the same debate

"A lot of quotes isn't a bad thing; we're not trying to fill space for nothing. We are filling a page with relevant information regarding a topic. In the case of the Noble Truths, where a large consensus is held throughout multiple authors, using anything but a quote seems almost insulting."

For the debate see Too many quotes.

On the same topic on Talk:Karma in Buddhism]] after JJ removed entire sections that previously consisted mainly of a couple of quotes each from different schools of Buddhism, with introductory material to frame them, Andi 3ö wrote:

"Sometimes it is easy to condense a longer quote into a shorter paraphrase, sometimes not. Sometimes paraphrasing improves the readability of the article, sometimes not. It depends on the context and on the ability/expertise of the editor. In any case, a good quote on an important subject is way better than leaving out the subject altogether"

For this debate see Karmic results are nearly impossible to predice with precision - rewrite. The context there is that I (Robert walker) suggest a rewrite of the section, to help explain why we wanted it restored - making it clear that the quotes are from the two separate branches, mahayana and Therevadha.

In our view, with several editors on both sides of this debate, this should have prompted an RfC. But instead JJ just went ahead and removed most of the quotes from the body of this article as well as Karma in Buddhism and elsewhere. Deleted entire sections in Karma in Buddhism that were mainly quote based originally. And ignores the views of other editors in the discussions, just repeats his own points.

We haven't yet had an RfC on this, so it can't be regarded as resolved in either direction. We feel it would be a distraction to do an RfC on this at this stage as it is a relatively minor, though important, issue.

Original Research[edit | hide | edit source]

There are many examples we could use here, but will use his rewrite of some of the core teachings of the Buddha as a particularly clear example.

Original Research - example of JJ's rewrite of the Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path[edit | hide | edit source]

JJ often presents key Buddhist concepts in his own words in an OR reformulation of the ideas. One striking example here is his highly OR rewrite of the Four Noble Truths in the lede of this article. There are now over 1800 pages, which, through relying on wikipedia, refer to JJ's OR text as the original, central, teachings of the Buddha (see #Attribution).

The Four Noble Truths are regarded as central to the teachings of the Buddha. They are as central as the Ten Commandments are to Judaism, indeed more so. Indeed, for Buddhists in all the main traditions, Therevadhan, or Mahayana - these four truths encompass the entire spiritual path (cites on centrality: [5]).

Traditionally they are presented as

"There are these Four Noble Truths, monks. Which four? Suffering, the arising of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the practice leading to the cessation of suffering." - from the Buddha's first sermon[6]

So:

  1. The truth of dukkha (suffering, anxiety, unsatisfactoriness)
  2. The truth of the origin of dukkha
  3. The truth of the cessation of dukkha
  4. The truth of the path leading to the cessation of dukkha

Which then traditionally is followed by a detailed presentation of each of the four truths.[7]

JJ rewrote this as

  1. Dukkha: all temporary things and states are unsatisfying;
  2. The start of dukkha: yet we crave and cling to these things and states; thereby, we're continuously reborn;
  3. The end of dukkha: if we stop craving and clinging, we won't be reborn;
  4. How to end dukkha: by following the Noble Eightfold Path, namely behaving decently, not acting on impulses, and practicing mindfulness and meditation.

Diff: [26], edit summary "Added explanation; rephrased sentences. See talkpage"

A google book, web and scholar search hasn't turned up any previous statement of the 4NT remotely resembling JJ's version. See #Attribution.

BTW Carol Anderson, who JJ cites as his main motivation for his rewrites of the articles, presents the truths in traditional form[8]

What makes it OR[edit | hide | edit source]

  1. His restatement of the third truth of cessation as "if we stop craving and clinging, we won't be reborn" - The Buddha is traditionally thought to have reached enlightenment under the Boddhi tree in his mid thirties, and he didn't have to die first. According to the traditional account of his life he continued to teach for nearly 45 years after he realized Nirvana. And traditionally he is understood to have realized the truth of cessation right away when he became enlightened.

    Yes, it is true, that at the end of the first sermon, Buddha is indeed quoted as saying that he won't take rebirth again. But he doesn't present that as the truth of cessation. This is rather a prediction of his own Parinirvana.[9]. On the face of it, JJ's restatement of the second of the 4NT seems to confuse Nirvana with Parinirvana.
  2. In JJ's restatement of the fourth truth, the Noble Eightfold Path, the path leading to cessation, he summarizes "right view, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration" as "behaving decently, not acting on impulses, and practicing mindfulness and meditation" - Here the statement about "not acting on impulses" particularly, doesn't seem to correspond to anything in the Noble Eightfold Path. Indeed, it's almost the opposite. There are many good impulses to be encouraged along the path, in Buddhist teachings, such as impulses of loving kindness, compassion, generosity etc.

This is just by way of a couple of examples of points that could be raised about his radically original reformulation of the Four Noble Truths.

Since the 4NT are so central to Buddhism, these truths especially need to be presented with great care and attention to detail. Probably many issues could be raised with JJ's rewrite of them.

The main point however is that this rewrite of the truths has never been subjected to peer review or prior discussion by other Buddhists or scholars before it was used in wikipedia.

Attribution[edit | hide | edit source]

No attribution is given, and this version is first published in Wikipedia AFAIK - by JJ on 2nd Dec 2014. [27].

A google search for his version of the eightfold noble path: "behaving decently, not acting on impulses, and practicing mindfulness and meditation" finds nothing resembling it in web, book or scholar search results outside wikipedia, up to this date (web up to 12/02/2014, [28], books up to 12/02/2014: [29] and google scholar search up to the present: [30]). Those are searches without quotes, to turn up close paraphrases, or any use of the same or cognate words in close proximity - nothing found before 2nd December.

As an example of how people tend to rely on wikipedia as a source of information - there are now over 1800 google search results for JJs exact phrase "behaving decently, not acting on impulses, and practicing mindfulness and meditation" - his restatement of the Noble Eightfold Path. Most of these search results give the entire text of his version of the 4NT.

This includes use as a forum signature, forum discussion of it as the text of the 4NT, and a youtube video (with text to speech for the audio track) presenting this as the Buddha's teachings. (web search: [31] and for the video [32])

That's as of 5th March just three months after his edit.

His given motivation[edit | hide | edit source]

For the diff see [33] and for his edit summary he says "Added explanation; rephrased sentences. See talkpage"

On the talk page he gives as his motivation: "Throughout the years, readers have complained that they don't understand what the four truths are, when only the names of the four truths are given:" Lead. Which is true, see earlier comments on the same page such as This article does not actually state what the truths are.

He has identified a real issue here. However, his solution would seem to go against wikipedia guidelines on WP:OR, especially for something as central to Buddhism as this.

Other possible solutions[edit | hide | edit source]

There are many other possible solutions such as

  • present the 4NT in their traditional form as in the original version of the lede before JJs edits: [34] and if necessary do more work on the subsequent brief explanation of the truths in the lede.
  • use a published reformulation of the four noble truths by a noted teacher or scholar on the topic - presented as a quote, with attribution.

For something as thoroughly discussed and explained as this, it seems unlikely that there would be any need for wikipedia editors to supply a radically original paraphrase or rewrite of the 4NT. There are so many well researched books and articles on this topic. It is probably one of the most written about topics in Buddhism. Somewhere amongst them all there must be a suitable formulation of the 4NT which could be quoted and attributed.

It's something that would need to be worked out in consultation with other editors on the talk page. It is also the sort of thing that would be likely to require an RfC in case of differences of opinion on the best solution to apply. I see this as a clear situation where the use of BRD could have permitted it to be fixed quickly - but he had already shown to other editors that BRD was not possible through previous use of BRDR on this article.

Other examples of OR of this type[edit | hide | edit source]

For a couple of other examples of this sort of thing, click Show below:

Extended content

"Although "non-self" and "impermanence" are accepted doctrines wthin most Buddhist schools, the teachings on nirvana reflect a strand of thought in which nirvana is seen as a transcendental, "deathless" realm, in which there is no time and no "re-death." This strand of thought may reflect pre-Buddhist influences, and has survived especially in Mahayana-Buddhism and the idea of the Buddha-nature."

[35]

where the phrasing "transcendental, "deathless" realm, in which there is no time and no "re-death."" suggests Nirvana as a separate reality, with attributes of permanence, and is unattributed.

and

"A main problem in Buddhist philosophy is how karma and rebirth are possible, when there is no self to be reborn, and how the traces or "seeds" of one's deeds are stored throughout time"

[36] (NB, this sentence has now been moved to the new article Development of Karma in Buddhism)

No source is given for his view that it is a main problem in Buddhist philosophy. His reasoning here for it as a major problem is OR and as usually explained, it is no more an issue than it is an issue that a baby can grow up to be an old person who is the "same person" consistent with the teachings on non self. Or that the Buddha could teach for 45 years, with many physical changes, after realizing Nirvana.

Here is one such traditional explanation of how it works:

"As there is no permanent, unchanging substance, nothing passes from one moment to the next. So quite obviously, nothing permanent or unchanging can pass or transmigrate from one life to the next. It is a series that continues unbroken, but changes every moment. The series is, really speaking, nothing but movement. It is like a flame that burns through the night: it is not the same flame nor it is another. A child grows up to be a man of sixty. Certainly the man of sixty is not the same as the child of sixty years ago, nor is he another person. Similarly, a person who dies here and is reborn elsewhere is neither the same person, nor another (na ca so na ca añño). It is the continuity of the same series. The difference between death and birth is only a thought-moment: the last thought-moment in this life conditions the first thought-moment in the so-called next life, which, in fact, is the continuity of the same series. During this life itself, too, one thought-moment conditions the next thought-moment. So from the Buddhist point of view, the question of life after death is not a great mystery, and a Buddhist is never worried about this problem."
(Walpola Rahula, "What the Buddha taught", chapter III, "The Second Noble Truth")

Also, any issues about "seeds" could only be a problem with the few later Buddhist schools that use this idea, and again he gives no source for his view that this is a major problem.

Why we haven't been able to resolve this by normal methods such as BRD and RfCs[edit | hide | edit source]

We have tried BRD, also extensive discussion on talk pages, and an RfC but none of these works. I think this dispute notice has to include a mention of this, as in our view it is the core reason for the dispute arising in the first place.

If JJ had followed normal practice of BRD and consensus bsed editing, and discussing major edts on talk pages first, and using RfCs to clarify points of contention between the editors - none of this would have happened. All the other issues could have been resolved in normal course of events by consensus based discussion and editing.

This is why we are asking for a rollback. Not to WP:OWN the articles, but just to return to normal consensus based editing. In our view it is JJ who is doing the WP:OWN taking over ownership by his massive non consensus based rewrites of the articles, which he then presents as a fait accomplis.

Why other editors haven't been able to resist the edits[edit | hide | edit source]

In these edits he is assisted by Jim Renge and VictoriaGrayson. They work on the articles together, and when JJ posts a comment to a talk page - they often post additional comments in support of him a few minutes later (including to quite obscure areas such as individual user talk pages). These editors are in agreement on many points in the topic area of Buddhism that others find controversial.

To be clear, I have come across no evidence at all of WP:GANG.

JJ has many friends on wikipedia, It is natural that some of them have similar views in this topic area, are in frequent communication, and choose to work on the same pages at the same time. This is just a case of social networking which happens naturally in any human grouping.

However, the relevance here is that, when combined with his use of BRDR instead of BRD, this makes it impossible for anyone to resist his edits - since in this topic area, often there are at most one or two editors working on an article at any given time (apart from minor edits).

Also, many of the changes are done over a period of a few days or a week, often with no prior voicing of intentions on the talk pages. He just does a "Clean up" summary after the rewrite. In the case of Karma in Buddhism, an edit history search shows that JJ never edited the article itself before the rewrite, and never edited the talk page before or during his first major rewrite.

Since the articles seem mature, probably most editors and readers won't think to put them on their watchlist (I never thought to add Karma in Buddhism to my watchlist as a reader before the rewrite).

There are currently 5096 articles in the Buddhism project. We don't have large numbers of active committed Buddhist editors to watch over and maintain all those articles.

For instance Karma in Buddhism had Dorje as it's only long term editor for well over a year. When JJ did his major rewrite last Autumn - there was no way to stop him. Dorje didn't try, as JJ's actions had already ended his participation as a wikipedia editor for the time being. Note from Dorje: [10]

Dorje's last edit of a main space article was in October when he attempted a revert of the first of JJ's many major rewrites of Four Noble Truths. When JJ responded with BRDR (see next section) it was clear he couldn't stop JJ's edits. Before then he did frequent constructive edits, several times a week, usually at weekends, see [37]. Note from Dorje: [11]

Attempt at BRD and request for rollback[edit | hide | edit source]

Note that User:Dorje108 tried BRD with Joshua's edits of Four Noble Truths. First, he commented on the talk page [38] and then he reversed the first few of his many bold edits with the edit summary: "Please discuss proposed changes on talk page before making major edits.", see [39].

This attempt at BRD was immediately reversed by Joshua Jonathan as BRDR, see [40] with the comment "This is not how Wikipedia works, and no excuse for removing sourced info. See also WP:OWN)"

For the extent of the changes which Joshua Jonathan reverted with this BRDR, see this diff: [41] It is clear at a glance that it was a major revision of the article - and he wasn't just adding new content to it!

Also Andi tried reinserting some of the deleted content from Karma in Buddhism but his edit was immediately reversed by VictoriaGrayson (who is always in agreement with Joshua Jonathan's edits in this topic area), with the comment "(undid last 2 revisions.)" see [42].

For my own part - I hadn't put Karma in Buddhism on my watch list as it seemed a mature article in good hands. When I found out that it had been totally rewritten, I began with a discussion on the talk page. It soon became clear in that discussion that JJ would not be willing to roll back so I didn't attempt BRD, which I knew would just be reversed.

Our case for a rollback[edit | hide | edit source]

I think Andi summarized it best here:

Bold,revert,discuss - conclusions from the past days of discussion[edit | hide | edit source]

"Joshua, I've been following all the discussions concerning your edits to 4NT and here very closely. Having seen your effort to condense/paraphrase the two(four) quotes above i want to say a couple of things:

  1. Thank you for your willingness to get back to cooperation and discussing concretely about reinserting lost content!
  2. Unfortunately, in the concrete example here, i cannot see how the two little sentences you extracted from the rather longish quotes can serve as their adequate substitute. There is much more to these quotes than you extracted!
  3. The same is true for your overall condensing [former sections 1-8] into your very concise section 2: Most of the content is simply gone or condensed to such a short form that the average reader will not be able to grasp the full meaning of the thoughts you are trying to convey - which is sad, especially keeping in mind that - as i already stated elsewhere:
  4. Benefiting the reader (Please read if you haven't) should be our foremost guiding principle - after all, what else would we be doing this for?

Also, from the extensive discussions of the past few days here and there and here and on this very page, it should be clear that

  1. there is at least no consensus justifying your mass deletion of content on the grounds of WP:RS or the classification of quotes as primary sources.
  2. Also the overuse of quotes in general cannot be a justification for this massive deletion of well-sourced content. As i said earlier: In any case, a good quote on an important subject is way better than leaving out the subject altogether.

"Therefore, also taking into account the time and effort it will take to discuss every little bit of content that you boldly deleted, i have come to the conclusion that at this point and at least in the case of [former sections 1-8] it will be better to start the process by reinserting the content lost. Then you and Dorje108 and Robert Walker, maybe i myself and whoever else is interested in this topic can start working on it, one piece of content, one line of thought at a time and try to improve the article by removing or substituting or paraphrasing - or leaving - one quote at a time. From reading the comments by Dorje108 and Robert Walker i also got the impression that they were simply too humble and polite to revert your massive edits in the first place which would have been the standard procedure following Wikipedia:BOLD,_revert,_discuss_cycle. It's ok for you to be bold, but it's also ok for others to say no. So then we need to discuss. One edit or one section at a time - and over and over again, until there is a consensus - or at least a well established majority view. Andi 3ö (talk) 03:36, 13 December 2014 (UTC)"

After this Andi restored several sections that JJ deleted. But VG immediately reverted his revert so he wasn't successful in his attempt to reinsert the content. So, saying he didn't wish to edit war, Andi then gave up on the attempt, wishing JJ meta (loving kindness) in his parting comment.

For the rest of it in context, see Bold,revert,discuss - conclusions from the past days of discussion

So what is the way forward?[edit | hide | edit source]

Myself (Robert Walker) and Dorje108 ask for a rollback and a slower consensus based discussion of the many issues JJ has identified in the previous mature articles and his proposed solutions.

The problem with this is that JJ, VG and JR all think that his edits have improved the articles and don't consider a roll back to be a useful way ahead.

We have tried RfC and have discussed this for some weeks now on multiple talk pages with not much progress and no result, and don't know how to resolve it. The main problem with use of procedures such as RfC is the large number of issues involved. It's not clear how an RfC could resolve this.

Is there any way to deal with a situation like this, and if so how can we take it forward? And is anyone interested to step in to help us to take it to a resolution?

Please can the focus here be on procedure rather than discussion of the issues. If we start discussing the issues themselves, the discussion will never end - that is the very problem we have.

We are posting here in case anyone can see a way to take it forward to help resolve the issue.

For short version, and overview, see DRN Notice Draft

Footnotes[edit | hide | edit source]

  1. New Buddhist Movements in Thailand: Towards an Understanding of Wat Phra Dhammakaya and Santi Asoke
  2. Note from Dorje: The text by Carol Anderson is titled Pain and Its Ending: The Four Noble Truths in the Theravada Buddhist Canon. This text is a very strange choice on which to base re-writes of articles on basic Buddhist concepts. I have no reason to doubt that Carol Anderson is a fine scholar and that the text in question is of a high academic standard. However, it is illogical to place undue emphasize on this text for the articles in question for the following reasons:
    • As indicated in the title, the text is an analysis of the Four Noble Truths within the Theravada Buddhist Canon. Thus the text focuses on textual analysis of early Buddhist texts. It is written by an academic scholar and the presumed audience is other scholars. Therefore, we can assume that the text presumes that the audience already has an understanding of basic Buddhist concepts. The aim of the text is clearly not to explain basic concepts but to present original scholarly research into early Buddhist texts. So why would an editor choose to emphasize this text over the many texts by eminent scholars that are written specifically to explain these concepts to a Western audience? For example, in my edits I have relied heavily on scholars such as Peter Harvey, Rupert Gethin, Paul Williams, Smith & Novack, Damien Keown, etc. All of these writers have written well-regarded introductory-level texts on Buddhism.
    • In Jonathan's presentation of the material in this text, he conflates the meaning of the concepts (e.g. Karma) as it is understood in the Buddhist tradition, with one scholar's research into origins of the terms within early Buddhist texts. This research in to the origin of the terms could certainly be included in the article, but it should be distinguished from the common understanding of the term.
    • As indicated in the title, the text by Carol Anderson is concerned solely with the Theravada Buddhist canon. There are two main branches of Buddhism: Theravada and Mahayana. So by giving undue weight to this one source, Jonathan is disregarding the other main tradition in Buddhism.
    Regards, Dorje108 (talk) 20:36, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
  3. Andi wrote about this also in the discussion of his rewrites of Karma in Buddhism after his attempt to reinsert some of the original content was reverted: "Joshua, thank you very much for your explanation! Unfortunately i do not have the time right now for a point by point response concerning the above list, but you can imagine from my earlier posts that i have some objections. I am especially grateful for your sharing of what you call the "basic problem". This makes the further discussions a lot easier, because it brings me closer to an understanding of your thinking and the overall intention of your massive edits: "I have the feeling from your edits and comments that you personally lay a lot of emphasis on trying to find out, and (therefore?) first and foremost presenting in your articles, what the "original" teachings of the Buddha were - and on the other hand tend to disregard later developments and contemporary Buddhist's views as (maybe often being mislead and therefore?) not so important. (like here: "The really important point is being mentioned in "Liberation from samsara"") "My thinking is exactly the other way round: To me it is not so important what the Buddha or the early Buddhist Sangha originally thought and taught, but what Buddists think. And by that i mean primarilly what they think (and teach and practice) about concepts like Karma and the 4NT but also - to take it one step further and illustrate my point by means of (slightly) exageratiing: For me it is even more important what Buddhists think what the original teachings of the Buddha were than what western academics think what "objectively" were those teachings. "Please think about it: After all, as our well thought out and thoroughly debated famous very first sentence about Buddhism in this wonderful digital encyclopedia states (emphasis added):

    "Buddhism is a [...] religion that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as the Buddha [...]"

    "So for me it seems quite obvious that an article about a Buddhist concept like karma should first and foremost report what the believers (of different traditions respectively) think about the concept, how it is taught and how it is incorporated into their practices. And by the way, the Buddhism article - right after the lead - continues with a traditional account of the life of the Buddha - not an historical (!)

    "Of course there should be room for historical critical analysis and comparative studies, which is what (western) academics seem to be mostly occupied whith. But if you think about what matters to the world, i.e. the reader? How does karma, i.e. the concept of karma, not the "real" thing, come into the world, leaving the ivory tower? It is through its workings in the minds of Buddhist believers. So it is our foremost duty to report what believers say, think, do - again: not (western) scholars!

    "Of course, in order to report this accurately there are many ways and one of them - undoubtedly one that Wikipedia actively encourages - is to use academic secondary or tertiary sources (that report those beliefs).

    "To conclude: there is still a lot of work to be done; i will definitely not be engaged in some kind of edit war but i will definitely also not put up with the petty rest of the "detailed exposition of the workings of karma" that you left over from the previous version, precisely because these "workings of karma" take up a very important part in (contemporary) Buddhist's beliefs and practices (as proven by the very quotes you removed alone). BTW: Wouldn't "detailed exposition of the workings of karma" be a good title for a nice little large section where a lot of the missing stuff could find its way back in? ;) Kind regards, with metta, Andi 3ö (talk) 13:57, 13 December 2014 (UTC)" For the context, see Further explanation (#3?)

  4. Note from Robert, here is a quote from the conclusion to Carol Anderson's book, where she makes it clear that she does not intend her book to be used in a revisionary way to change which teachings Buddhists accept or how they interpret them:

    "But if I suggest that the four noble truths are not the legacy of a particular religious experience which may have actually occurred in history, is that to undercut their authority as a symbol of the Buddha's enlightenment? No, for the simple reason that the authority of the four noble truths, as an evocative symbol of a specific experience, does not rely upon the truth or falsehood of the four noble truths and other encyclopedic statements within history. The authority of the four noble truths does not rely upon the historical claim that they were in fact the first teaching of the Buddha. The authority of the four noble truths as a symbol relies, in the end, upon the memory of hte Therevada Buddhist tradition as recorded in the Therevada canon".

    (page 230 of Pain and its ending) She is talking about the four noble truths here, but surely would have similar views on the taachings of Karma - regards, Robert Walker (talk) 20:39, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

    • Rupert Gethin: "In a Nikāya passage the Buddha thus states that he has always made known just two things, namely suffering and the cessation of suffering. This statement can be regarded as expressing the basic orientation of Buddhism for all times and all places. Its classic formulation is by way of 'four noble truths'..."
    • Carol Anderson, "Despite these difficulties the three main ideals characterized in the first dharma talk after the Buddha's enlightenment are to this day still considered core beliefs accepted by all schools of Buddhist practice. These are the ideals of the Middle Way, the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path", "Basic Buddhism: a Beginner's Guide: Volume 1 - Origins, Concepts and Beleifs, Chapter: "Basic Concepts and Beliefs", also in her chapter FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS she writes: ""The Four Noble Truths deal specifically with the existence of suffering and they are the root from which all teachings arise"
    • Sharon Salzburg: "Everything within the Buddha’s teachings can be encapsulated with I teach one thing and one thing only. That is suffering and the end of suffering. And the normal formulation of that is what is called the Four Noble Truths." The Four Noble Truths - a talk by Sharon Salzburg
    • Ron Leifer: "The Buddha repeated over and over again that the four noble truths are the foundation and nucleus of his teachings. All Buddhist wisdom is contained within them like the layers of an onion, each layer more subtle and profound than the previous, leading to a central insight. Monks, Buddha said, by the fact of understanding as they really are, these four truths, a Tathagata is called an Arhat, a fully enlightened one."
    • Gil Fronsdal: "In his first sermon, "Turning the Wheel of the Dharma," the Buddha taught about suffering and the end of suffering in the form of the Four Noble Truths. After more than 2500 years they have come to us as the core teachings of Buddhism. Almost all Buddhist traditions consider the Four Noble Truths to be very central teachings. Intellectually, they are easy to understand, but it is said that a deep understanding of the full impact of these Four Truths is possible only for someone whose liberation is fully mature."
    • Joseph Goldstein (in Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening): "[The Four Noble Truths] express the very essence of the Buddha’s awakening, and despite the many differences among the various Buddhist traditions, all of them agree that the four noble truths are the foundation of understanding and realization."
    • Bhikkhu Bodhi: "The essence of the Buddha’s teaching can be summed up in two principles: the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. The first covers the side of doctrine, and the primary response it elicits is understanding; the second covers the side of discipline, in the broadest sense of that word, and the primary response it calls for is practice."
    • Walpola Rahula: "The heart of the Buddha's teaching lies in the Four Noble Truths (Cattāri Ariyasaccāni)..."
    • The Dalai Lama: "The Four Noble Truths are the very foundation of the Buddhist teachings, and that is why they are so important. In fact, if you don't understand the Four Noble Truths, and if you have not experienced the truth of this teaching personally, it is impossible to practice the Buddha Dharma. Therefore I am always happy to have the opportunity to explain them."
    • Thich Nhat Hanh: "After realizing complete, perfect awakening (samyak sambodhi), the Buddha had to find words to share his insight. He already had the water, but he had to discover jars like the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path to hold it. The Four Noble Truths are the cream of the Buddha's teaching."
    • Lama Surya Das: "The Four Noble Truths are the core of the Buddhist Dharma."
    • Traleg Kyabgon: "...the Four Noble Truths are the essence of all the Buddha's teachings. Without understanding them, we cannot proceed. All the later interpretations of the original Buddhist teachings are based on the Four Noble Truths."
    • Piyadassi Thera: "...the Four Noble Truths are the central concept of Buddhism. What the Buddha taught during his ministry of forty-five years embraces these Truths, namely: Dukkha, suffering or unsatisfactoriness, its arising, its cessation and the way out of this unsatisfactory state." The Ancient Path - By Piyadassi Thera, Chapter 15
    • Thanissaro Bhikkhu: "The four noble truths are the most basic expression of the Buddha's teaching. As Ven. Sariputta once said, they encompass the entire teaching, just as the footprint of an elephant can encompass the footprints of all other footed beings on earth." The Four Noble Truths: A Study Guide by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
    For details of these and many more citations, see [1] [2] [3]
  5. The Discourse that set the Dharma wheel rolling
  6. Contemporary translators have used a number of variations in presenting the essential list (i.e. the names or titles) of the Four Noble Truths. For example:
    • Bhikkhu Bodhi states: "The Four Noble Truths are as follows: 1. The truth of Dukkha; 2. The truth of the origin of Dukkha; 3. The truth of the cessation of Dukkha; 4. The truth of the path, the way to liberation from Dukkha".
    • John T. Bullit (Access to Insight) states: "What are these four? They are the noble truth of dukkha; the noble truth of the origin of dukkha; the noble truth of the cessation of dukkha; and the noble truth of the way to the cessation of dukkha."Four Noble Truths - cattari ariya saccani
    • Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma states: The Four Noble Truths [...] are: 1. The Noble Truth of Suffering (dukkha); 2. The Noble Truth of the origin of suffering (samudaya); 3. The Noble Truth of the cessation of suffering (nirodha); 4. The Noble Truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering (magga).
    • Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism states: "1. The noble truth that is suffering; 2. The noble truth that is the arising of suffering; 3. The noble truth that is the end of suffering; 4. The noble truth that is the way leading to the end of suffering."
    • Geshe Tashi Tsering states: "The four noble truths are: 1. The noble truth of suffering; 2. The noble truth of the origin of suffering; 3. The noble truth of the cessation of suffering and the origin of suffering; 4. The noble truth of the path that leads to the cessation of suffering and the origin of suffering."

      For detailed cites, see [4]
  7. "The Four Noble Truths deal specifically with the existence of suffering and they are the root from which all teachings arise. According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths in the very first teaching he gave after he attained enlightenment and he further clarified their meaning in many subsequent teachings throughout his life. These four truths are:
    A. Dukkha / Dukha: All life is marked by suffering.
    B. Samudaya: Suffering is caused by attachment and desire.
    C. Nirodha: Suffering can be stopped.
    D: Magga: The way to end suffering is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path"

    She then goes on to present each in turn following the usual pattern"

    Carol Anderson: "Basic Buddhism", 2013.
  8. The Discourse that set the Dharma wheel rolling Ends: ‘Destroyed is (re)birth for me, accomplished is the spiritual life, done is what ought to be done, there is no more of this mundane state'w.
  9. Note from Dorje: there is also the time factor here. Myself and many editors have limited time each week to focus on this. I had been doing most of my edits on the weekends. Jonathan seems to have an abundant amount of time each day to focus on wikipedia; he does massive edits over a few days and generally dismisses objects to his edits after the fact. Dorje108 (talk) 18:21, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
  10. Note from Dorje: I basically stepped back from editing to figure out what was going on and how to respond. I did not wish to get into a revert war with Jonathan since he clear how much more time to devote to the process and he has a group of fellow editors that seem to manifest to support his POV in every case. Eventually, after discussion with Robert Walker on my talkpage, I posted an RFC on the Wikiproject Budddhism page, and now I am supporting Robert's DNI request. Dorje108 (talk) 18:27, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

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