Bad resources

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
alan
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Bad resources

Postby alan » Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:05 pm

Hi All. Love the resources link at the top of most threads. They have been very helpful.
But some books are not. Just for fun, I would like to ask this question: are there any books you find unhelpful? Some author you would avoid? Not trying to start a war--just thought it would be interesting to see which, if any, books you've rejected.
I'll start with Stephen Batchelor's "Buddhism without beliefs", just to get things rolling.
P.S. I threw it out the window a few years ago, so please don't ask my to quote what it was that bugged me.
Thought this might be interesting.... :coffee:

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catmoon
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Re: Bad resources

Postby catmoon » Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:59 pm

I have a nice healthy aversion to about anything by D.T. Suzuki. But that said, he seems to be a highly respected writer for some reason. :shrug:

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Fede
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Re: Bad resources

Postby Fede » Mon Jan 04, 2010 8:19 pm

"The secret"
"The Law of Attraction"
Anything at all by Deepak Chopra.
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


http://www.armchairadvice.co.uk/relationships/forum/

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Monkey Mind
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Re: Bad resources

Postby Monkey Mind » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:19 pm

No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva by Pema Chodron
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710

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tiltbillings
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Re: Bad resources

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:20 pm

Monkey Mind wrote:No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva by Pema Chodron

Why is it bad?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

      >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
      -- Proverbs 26:12

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Cittasanto
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Re: Bad resources

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:49 pm

I don't think I have any bad resources, they are all good for something.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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bodom
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Re: Bad resources

Postby bodom » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:59 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Monkey Mind wrote:No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva by Pema Chodron

Why is it bad?


I have enjoyed many books by Pema Chodron. In fact When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times was one of the very first books i read on Buddhist practice. I would recommend her in a heatbeat.

:anjali:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo

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zavk
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Re: Bad resources

Postby zavk » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:21 am

Fede wrote:"The secret"
"The Law of Attraction"
Anything at all by Deepak Chopra.


:thumbsup:

I wouldn't call them 'resources' but 'bad', yes. :)
With metta,
zavk

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Prasadachitta
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Re: Bad resources

Postby Prasadachitta » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:43 am

zavk wrote:
Fede wrote:"The secret"
"The Law of Attraction"
Anything at all by Deepak Chopra.


:thumbsup:

I wouldn't call them 'resources' but 'bad', yes. :)


If they are not being used as a resource then there is nothing bad about them. :tongue:
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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withoutcolour
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Re: Bad resources

Postby withoutcolour » Tue Jan 05, 2010 1:16 am

Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das.

Not only was I really turned off by the mention of levitating within the first few pages, written under the title is "Eight steps to enlightenment," like there's an Alcoholics-Anonymous style list that one can go through and check off, easy as that. I am also turned off by the Tibetan tradition in general, no offense to the Vajras who may frequent this site, it's just not my cup of tea is all. :coffee:
I read the whole book and it was useful as somebody who is a critical reader of Buddhist literature(which, thankfully I was at the time I read it) , but for someone new to the subject, this would seem like mystical new age crap and is not particularly informative in terms of the basic beliefs of Buddhism.

I am also turned off to Suzuki's writing. Makes my brain melt.

-wc
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ
sabbe sattā sukhita hontu

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Jechbi
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Re: Bad resources

Postby Jechbi » Tue Jan 05, 2010 3:03 am

Manapa wrote:I don't think I have any bad resources, they are all good for something.

:goodpost:
it's about how we relate to the words we encounter, and what practical use we make of it
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Bad resources

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jan 05, 2010 3:10 am

Manapa wrote:I don't think I have any bad resources, they are all good for something.

Maybe being a doorstop, or balancing the wobbly table
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

      >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
      -- Proverbs 26:12

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Jechbi
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Re: Bad resources

Postby Jechbi » Tue Jan 05, 2010 4:40 am

tiltbillings wrote:Maybe being a doorstop, or balancing the wobbly table

Sure. Sometimes we're not yet capable of finding value in points of view that challenge our own. So we make the best use we can, and that might involve propping up wobbly things or making sure doors stay where they belong.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Bad resources

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jan 05, 2010 4:44 am

Jechbi wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Maybe being a doorstop, or balancing the wobbly table

Sure. Sometimes we're not yet capable of finding value in points of view that challenge our own.
That is assuming a bad book challenges my point of view. Some books are just poorly written, poorly researched.
So we make the best use we can, and that might involve propping up wobbly things or making sure doors stay where they belong.
I just cannot bring myself to burn them or givie them away.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

      >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
      -- Proverbs 26:12

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Jechbi
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Re: Bad resources

Postby Jechbi » Tue Jan 05, 2010 4:52 am

tiltbillings wrote:I just cannot bring myself to burn them or giving them away.

Giving them away is actually kind of fun. I gave a bunch to the local public library a few years ago. That was an interesting experience, after having hoarded books since childhood. Then I gave away the bookshelves. Come to think of it, those books really did have value in the end.
;)
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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retrofuturist
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Re: Bad resources

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 05, 2010 4:53 am

Greetings,

Resources may be bad if they are:

* Factually incorrect or poorly researched
* Misleading, drawing false conclusions
* Poorly written, in style or language
* Contain no redeeming features or points of value

I don't think it's about "points of view that challenge our own" that people are talking about... it's more the above criteria.

I could list a string of Mahayana books that contain "points of view that challenge my own" but that wouldn't make them bad resources per se.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

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Jechbi
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Re: Bad resources

Postby Jechbi » Tue Jan 05, 2010 5:04 am

retrofuturist wrote:I don't think it's about "points of view that challenge our own" that people are talking about... it's more the above criteria.

I had a different impression, namely that it was about subjective criteria as well as these relatively objective ones that you list. Much of the thread seems to be about opinions, and I thought that's what the OP was after.

retrofuturist wrote:Resources may be bad if they ... contain no redeeming features or points of value
Yep, that's pretty much what I was driving at. What one person finds to be without value might churn up some unexpected bits of wisdom in the reading of another. Even poorly researched or poorly written books can raise questions or points worth considering, regardless of whether we agree with the conclusions drawn in the work. The value derives from what one brings to the reading, in my opinion.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Bad resources

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jan 05, 2010 5:50 am

Jechbi wrote: Even poorly researched or poorly written books can raise questions or points worth considering, regardless of whether we agree with the conclusions drawn in the work. The value derives from what one brings to the reading, in my opinion.
And the taste of some cookies is not good enough to warrant eating them. Life is too short to read bad books.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

      >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
      -- Proverbs 26:12

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Kim OHara
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Re: Bad resources

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Jan 05, 2010 6:11 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Resources may be bad if they are:

* Factually incorrect or poorly researched
* Misleading, drawing false conclusions
* Poorly written, in style or language
* Contain no redeeming features or points of value

I don't think it's about "points of view that challenge our own" that people are talking about... it's more the above criteria.

I could list a string of Mahayana books that contain "points of view that challenge my own" but that wouldn't make them bad resources per se.

Metta,
Retro. :)

:goodpost:
"Points of view that challenge our own" are not necessarily wrong.
If we were going to include books on that basis we would never stop, and the list would include many, many books which are factually correct, well researched and well written, and extremely valuable to some people.
If I were going to alter Retro's list of criteria I would drop the last of the four (because 'nicely printed', for example, is a redeeming virtue but not a sufficient one) and replace it with 'Out of date.'
Dharma books shouldn't usually go out of date but a unique, but poor, translation might be supplanted by a better one. Or a historical study may be supplanted by the results of more recent research.
:namaste:

Kim

nowheat
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Re: Bad resources

Postby nowheat » Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:38 am

I didn't get from the phrase "points of view that challenge our own" that it was something that made a book a bad resource. Quite the opposite. The post read: "Sometimes we're not yet capable of finding value in points of view that challenge our own. So we make the best use we can..." As described, it seems to me that the difficulty lay in the reader, not in the book: read it again later, it may be different.

I would like to know why the OP disliked the Batchelor book. I found it, overall, inspiring, and a clarifying read, and sometimes his prose was so spot on as to be quite beautiful. At other times the highfalutin' language was more than I could bear, but I shouldn't complain about having to look up words in the dictionary, I suppose.

:namaste:


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