A policy of "open communication"

by Ven Dharmakara, Los Angeles, The Buddhist Channel, June 25, 2007

I refer to the letter by E.W. Silke on "What's the Buddhist Channel's editorial policy". The editorial policy of the Buddhist Channel, as I understand and expressed by it's founding editor, is that of open communication or, to quote Lim Kooi Fong, "to live the principles of the Kalama Sutta to the fullest."

0, Kalamas,
It is proper for you to doubt; to feel uncertain.
Your uncertainty has arisen in what is doubtful.
Do not accept anything merely by,
What you hear repeatedly.
What has been handed down by tradition,
Attractive reasoning,
Apparent logical inference or speculation,
Appealing model, form or appearance
Agreeable beliefs,
Another's seeming ability,
Nor by out of respect for the teacher.

Athough the Kalama Sutta is abused by many Western Buddhists, who use it as an excuse to pick and choose what parts of the Dharma they consider to be authentic, there is another type of abuse which is even worse, when Buddhists hide behind particuliar precepts or understandings of the Dharma solely for the purpose of silencing open communication or dialogue.

We, as Buddhists, must confront the good, the bad, and, saddly enough, the ugly within our tradition, not ignore it in some misguided belief that it will go away, not get noticed, or cease to occur.

If Buddhism, as an institution, is allowed to become sociocentric, then the lines between what is ethical and what is unethical will only get more blurred.

Only when we can distinguish "sociocentric thinking" from "ethical thinking", then and only then, can we begin to develop a conscience that is not equivalent to the values we have been socially conditioned to accept.

Without a clear understanding of sociocentric tendencies, we become victims of the conformist thought dominant in social groups, and we become potential victimizers of others who disagree with the group ideology.

Members of the Buddhist community may not care for my words, they may wish instead to live in denial and say that my words are "unwarranted" or "slanderous", even that I am "disturbed", but at the end of the day, to borrow an expression from those who apparently like quoting my own words, "the wheat will be separated from the chaff".

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