Apologizing on behalf of others

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binocular
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Apologizing on behalf of others

Post by binocular »

Greetings.


It has happened now several times that Buddhists have apologized to me on behalf of other Buddhists, in matters of Dhamma propagation. In most cases, it's clear, that the Buddhist on whose behalf they were apologizing, knows nothing about it or whether there even is any wrongdoing on their part for which an apology would be in place.

So why do Buddhists do that? What is the purpose of such an apology? Is it some element of Dhamma propagation?



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Sam Vara
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Re: Apologizing on behalf of others

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 11:52 am
Greetings.


It has happened now several times that Buddhists have apologized to me on behalf of other Buddhists, in matters of Dhamma propagation. In most cases, it's clear, that the Buddhist on whose behalf they were apologizing, knows nothing about it or whether there even is any wrongdoing on their part for which an apology would be in place.

So why do Buddhists do that? What is the purpose of such an apology? Is it some element of Dhamma propagation?



Thank you.
I think it's common everywhere, not just within Buddhism. People who consider themselves part of a group don't want the whole group to be thought badly of. Professionally, I had to offer apologies to people that the organisation I worked for had wronged. I have heard of white people apologising on behalf of other whites for the wrongs done to black people.

If the apology around Dhamma propagation is about you being misinformed by another, they are probably trying to show how their interpretation is better. If it's about you somehow being treated badly, then they are probably trying to distance themselves (as "Buddhists") from that sort of treatment.

It also occurs to me that there is a range of different levels of personal responsibility within what we call apologies. At one extreme, we have personal apologies where the apologiser acknowledges doing wrong, and says s/he is sorry for it. At the other end of the spectrum, we have people expressing sympathy ("I'm sorry you had to go through that...it shouldn't happen that way...") for something they think shouldn't have happened, but which they didn't do.

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Re: Apologizing on behalf of others

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings binocular,

Do you mean in an "I'm sorry that happened to you" kind of way, or literally apologizing on behalf of another person?

Metta,
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binocular
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Re: Apologizing on behalf of others

Post by binocular »

retrofuturist wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:20 pm
Do you mean in an "I'm sorry that happened to you" kind of way, or literally apologizing on behalf of another person?
The latter. E.g. "I apologize that those monks treated you that way."
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binocular
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Re: Apologizing on behalf of others

Post by binocular »

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:11 pm
Professionally, I had to offer apologies to people that the organisation I worked for had wronged.
Sure, and you did that in a professional capacity, you were just a spokesperson for the organization. In a religion, this can be different, esp. when there is no agreement as to the actual doctrine, rules of conduct etc., and no official spokesperson. The Catholic pope can apologize on behalf of other Catholics (because he is in that unique professional capacity to do so within the organisation of the RCC), but there is no parallel in Theravada Buddhism.
If it's about you somehow being treated badly, then they are probably trying to distance themselves (as "Buddhists") from that sort of treatment.
And so that apology has nothing to do with me.
If you can't build with them, don't chill with them.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Apologizing on behalf of others

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:29 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:11 pm
Professionally, I had to offer apologies to people that the organisation I worked for had wronged.
Sure, and you did that in a professional capacity, you were just a spokesperson for the organization. In a religion, this can be different, esp. when there is no agreement as to the actual doctrine, rules of conduct etc., and no official spokesperson. The Catholic pope can apologize on behalf of other Catholics (because he is in that unique professional capacity to do so within the organisation of the RCC), but there is no parallel in Theravada Buddhism.
Yes, that's my understanding.
And so that apology has nothing to do with me.
Well, it's not really an apology in the sense that it would be if they had committed the perceived wrong. But I guess it is still "about you", because they are expressing regret that you - and not someone else - were treated in that way. It sounds like a nice gesture on their part.

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cappuccino
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Re: Apologizing on behalf of others

Post by cappuccino »

binocular wrote: Buddhists have apologized to me on behalf of other Buddhists
knowing the value of Buddhism, I have hope for others
Last edited by cappuccino on Sun Aug 02, 2020 2:01 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Apologizing on behalf of others

Post by cappuccino »

such is the perspective from which we apologize

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Re: Apologizing on behalf of others

Post by mikenz66 »

binocular wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 11:52 am
It has happened now several times that Buddhists have apologized to me on behalf of other Buddhists ...
Perhaps it's just an English idiom? In a number of cases, Some Asian people have been perplexed when I have used the common English idiom: "I am sorry for your loss". Their response has been something like: "You didn't kill them, so why are you apologising?" (Sometimes followed quickly by the observation that "Everyone has to die, so don't worry...").

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binocular
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Re: Apologizing on behalf of others

Post by binocular »

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 1:51 pm
Well, it's not really an apology in the sense that it would be if they had committed the perceived wrong. But I guess it is still "about you", because they are expressing regret that you - and not someone else - were treated in that way. It sounds like a nice gesture on their part.
An apology is supposed to make things better for the person who was wronged. But an apology made by someone who was not involved in the wrongdoing in the first place does not have that effect.

- - -
mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:24 am
Perhaps it's just an English idiom? In a number of cases, Some Asian people have been perplexed when I have used the common English idiom: "I am sorry for your loss". Their response has been something like: "You didn't kill them, so why are you apologising?" (Sometimes followed quickly by the observation that "Everyone has to die, so don't worry...").
Well, I expect Buddhists to be more mindful of their speech.
If you can't build with them, don't chill with them.

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Re: Apologizing on behalf of others

Post by Dhamma Chameleon »

In some cultures there is a convention of expressing regret that someone did something. "Sorry they did this to you and for its effects." Usually they're not in a position to offer an apology, as that requires genuine regret from the perpetrator or an official representative.
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Sam Vara
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Re: Apologizing on behalf of others

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:29 am

An apology is supposed to make things better for the person who was wronged. But an apology made by someone who was not involved in the wrongdoing in the first place does not have that effect.
Maybe the intention was just to express sympathy for the fact that you felt bad, which seems to be a positive thing.

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Re: Apologizing on behalf of others

Post by polaris »

They apologized because they felt that you were listening to the wrong teachings of Buddha by other Buddhists. May be I am wrong here. Anyone think I am wrong, please do let me know.
If you are listening to wrong teachings of the Buddha you will not be able to cross the "Seas of Sufferings" (as explain in Chinese Mahayana Buddhist- they called it the Seas of Sufferings- and ways to cross the seas.)
It would be more correct if you tell all the whites in New York to apologize to all the blacks as they walk down the street, just say, "I am sorry I am white" will do tremendous amount of good in view of the current bad relationship between blacks and whites.

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Re: Apologizing on behalf of others

Post by binocular »

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:23 am
Maybe the intention was just to express sympathy for the fact that you felt bad, which seems to be a positive thing.
Then why not, you know, just say so, given their extensive training in mindfulness and right speech ...
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Sam Vara
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Re: Apologizing on behalf of others

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 2:44 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:23 am
Maybe the intention was just to express sympathy for the fact that you felt bad, which seems to be a positive thing.
Then why not, you know, just say so, given their extensive training in mindfulness and right speech ...
Maybe saying sorry in that context was just intended as an expression of sympathy. "I'm sorry that it happened to you" is a way of expressing sympathy without accepting responsibility for the thing that befell you. Or maybe they just misjudged the tone. Either way, it's best to just assume they meant something good, and rejoice, and pass on.

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