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==Note: this is a rough draft only==

This encyclopedia is motivated by the Rimé movement. The idea behind the movement is that differences are good, to embrace our differences while at the same time establishing dialog that creates a common ground.

This is a movement that started in Tibet in response to a developing tendency of sectarianism among different schools of Buddhism. The Rimé movement encourages the idea of respecting all Buddhist traditions (as well as respecting other religions). The current Dalai Lama is a strong supporter and has composed a special prayer[1] for success of the movement. It is now the norm amongst most Tibetan Buddhists. The teachers who follow this approach preserved many rare and vanishing traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, and Bon, that would otherwise have been lost and forgotten.

This movement is not at all restricted to Tibetan religions and is proving a useful foundation for interfaith dialog.

Contents

Rimé movement inspiration for this encyclopedia

Ringu Tulku describes the Rimé movement as follows

"Ris or Phyog-ris in Tibetan means "one-sided", "partisan" or "sectarian". Med means "No". Ris-med (Wylie), or Rimé, therefore means "no sides", "non-partisan" or "non-sectarian". It does not mean "non-conformist" or "non-committal"; nor does it mean forming a new School or system that is different from the existing ones. A person who believes the Rimé way almost certainly follows one lineage as his or her main practice. He or she would not dissociate from the School in which he or she was raised. Kongtrul was raised in the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions; Khyentse was reared in a strong Sakyapa tradition. They never failed to acknowledge their affiliation to their own Schools. "Rimé is not a way of uniting different Schools and lineages by emphasizing their similarities. It is basically an appreciation of their differences and an acknowledgement of the importance of having this variety for the benefit of practitioners with different needs. Therefore the Rimé teachers always take great care that the teachings and practices of the different Schools and lineages and their unique styles do not become confused with one another. To retain the original style and methods of each teaching lineage preserves the power of that lineage experience. Kongtrul and Khyentse made great efforts to retain the original flavor of each teaching, while making them available to many. Kongtrul writes about Khyentse in his biography of the latter.... When he (Khyentse Rinpoche) taught, he would give the teachings of each lineage clearly and intelligibly without confusing the terms and concepts of other teachings."[2]

You can also hear him talk about it in this YouTube interview from 2012:

Interview with Ringu Tulku Rinpoche Part 1


Interview with Ringu Tulku Rinpoche Part 2


For the historical background to this approach in Tibetan Buddhism, see Ringu Tulku's introduction "What is Rime" in his book "The Ri-me Philosophy of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great: A Study of the Buddhist Lineages of Tibet" (ISBN 9781590304648).

Origins of this encyclopedia - why create a fork from wikipedia? To explore the Rimé approach

In summary - the reason for creating this encyclopedia is that we wished to have an encyclopedia that uses the Rimé approach to present core ideas in Buddhism as understood by the many different traditions. The guidelines in Wikipedia would seem to favour such an approach and up to 2015, then it was edited in accord with Rimé ideas, even if not described as such by name. But since then it has become impossible to continue to edit it in this fashion.

One characteristic of this new approach is that they discourage use of works by Walpola Rahula, the Dalia Lama etc as sources, in favour of articles by western scholars such as Richard Gombrich, a non Buddhist (though one who has devoted his life to Buddhist scholarship and greatly respects it). In their view this makes non Buddhist scholars less subjectively involved and so more neutral and objective. In particular they consider Bhikkhu scholars as likely to be too committed to their faith and too involved to write about Buddhism objectively. (A Bhikkhu is just a Buddhist who has taken the Buddhist monk's vows and commited their life to the Buddhist path of celebacy, non harming etc - a Bhikkhuni similarly is a Buddhist nun).

Dorje108 and myself consider Bhikkhu scholars such as Walpola Rahula to be amongst the best sources on Therevadhan Buddhism and core concepts in Buddhism common to all the sutra tradition schools. We also consider the likes of the Dalai Lama (who many do not realize is a highly trained Buddhist scholar in a tradition that goes back for many centuries) as one of the best sources on Tibetan Buddhism. The situation is similar for other teachers in other branches of Buddhism. We consider that the most renowned and most qualified Buddhist scholars and teachers within a particular Buddhist tradition are the best sources on the views, beliefs and practices of that tradition.

We think that this is how the Wikipedia guidelines should be interpreted in Wikipedia. It seems to be how they are interprested in the Christianity project there, from examining many of the theological articles. But this view did not prevail in the Buddhism project.

Not just an academic debate

This is not just an academic debate. The editors proposing this new approach rewrote many of the articles on core Buddhist concepts in Wikipedia in accordance with their views, sourced mainly to Western academics.

I find the easiest way to explain this is to use a citation count from the articles. For instance the previous version of Nirvana (Buddhism) which is the basis for the current article in this encyclopedia uses Walpola Rahula's What the Buddha Taught as a source extensively. The current version in Wikipedia (as of writing this) doesn't have any cites to him at all, but has frequent cites to Richard Gombrich on his views on Nirvana (Buddhism) (25 cites to Gombrich, no cites to Walpola Rahula who Richard Gombrich himself greatly respects). It also uses the Hindu term Moksha which would be unfamiliar to most Buddhists and many would say it does not have precisely the same meaning as Nirvana.

You could take many examples like that. It is not just a matter of a citation count, it's a matter of the central ideas presented in them as well. However, counting cites of Western academics, and of Bhikkhu Buddhist scholars, is the easiest way to make it clear that there are significant differences in the old and new versions of these articles. It's a way to do it without attempting to delve into details of the different ideas and beliefs presented in them. They rewrote these articles without prior discussion, and are firmly of the view that they are major improvements over what was there before.

Why we decided the only way forward is a new Buddhist encyclopedia

Dorje108 was a long term contributor to the Buddhism project in Wikipedia at the time this happened and had worked on the core articles on Buddhism there for many years. I have been a dharma student since the late 1970s, but never edited the Wikipedia articles on Buddhism (except for minor things, I fixed one broken link).

I worked in other areas (one of my articles is Modern Mars Habitability) but got involved in talk page discussions when I saw some of my favourite articles on Buddhism, such as Karma in Buddhism, rather suddenly, totally rewritten.

We tried all the avenues available in Wikipedia to resolve the issue. Rollbacks and requests for discussion, talk page discussion, requests for comments (RFC's). dispute resolution (DRN's) and I took it to the Reliable Sources Noticeboard (RSN). These have now all been exhausted and there is no way forward (literally - I ended up with an indefinite ban in the Buddhism topic area broady construed - long story).

The best way forward seemed to be to start a new encyclopedia to let us explore our vision for what a Buddhist encyclopedia could be like. There is much good content in Wikipedia contributed through to 2015. Nearly 6,000 articles, most of them consistent with the approach we wish to explore, and many of them detailed and carefully researched.

So Dorje198 had the idea of developing a new encyclopedia that would use some of this material as a starting point, as is permitted according to the Wikipedia content license so long as the authors are attributed with a link back to the original article in Wikipedia. We wish to encourage Buddhist scholars and dharma students to help develop these articles, and expand the encyclopedia in a way that seems to be no longer possible in Wikipedia itself.

We are encouraged to write articles sourced to scholars and authors within the tradition being described

In principle the Rimé approach is rather close to how editing is normally done in Wikipedia. For instance you'd expect an article on Ignatian Sprituality to be sourced to writings by Catholic Jesuits as it is their tradition of spirituality and to describe the distinctive features of their views as well as the common ground they share with other branches of Christianity - and that is indeed how it is done.

In accord with the approach of the Rimé movement then we encourage use of Buddhist scholars and teachers as sources. For instance Walpola Rahula's What the Buddha Taught is one of the best sources on central ideas in Buddhism common to all the schools, from the early sutras and Therevadhan Buddhism. And the Dalai Lama's books are amongst the best sources on Tibetan Buddhism. Many readers new to Tibetan Buddhism may not know that the Dalai Lama is highly qualified as a Buddhist scholar. He passed his Geshe Lahrampa exam with flying colours as a young man of 23, a degree that normally requires 15 years of study.

The works by both Walpola Rahula and the Dalai Lama are widely cited in Google scholar, and academics also recognize them as reliable and significant authors in this topic area. There are many other such expert Buddhist scholars in a tradition that can be traced back to the early Nalanda University dating from the fifth century CE onwards, and further back for several centuries more.

There is a place here for articles on western academic Buddhist researches too. If anyone wants to contribute articles on Richard Gombrich's approach and other academic attempts at reconstruction of early Buddhism they are much appreciated. Indeed, articles are much appreciated on any views in this wide ranging debate on the nature of early Buddhism, and the situation in northern India at the time of the Buddha, and how these influenced or inspired the historical Buddha and his followers.

Such articles will be a valued addition to this encyclopedia, so long as they are clearly labelled as such, as an attempted reconstruction of one idea about the nature of early Buddhism, rather than a description of how modern sutra tradition Buddhists understand their own religion. We think this is a far better approach than an attempt at some kind of synthesis and weaving together of the ideas.

Encourage articles that explore differences in views as well as the common ground

Another characteristic of this new approach in the Buddhism topic area in Wikipedia is to de-emphasize differences and attempt to present a unified belief system for core articles on the Buddhist teachings. The articles often attempt a coherent account based on weaving together quotes and citations from many different authors.

In accord with the approach of the Rimé movement then we encourage articles that explore the differences in views as well as the common ground between the different approaches.

We think this approach makes the encyclopedia more acceessible and useful to everyone. Once this encyclopedia is well developed then our aim is that:

  • Those interested in what modern Buddhists practice and believe will find their views clearly set out here, in all the diversity of the many Buddhist traditions.
  • And those interested in the academic researches of Richard Gombrich and others will find them set out also, clearly expressed along with the views of other scholars in a wide ranging debate about the nature of early Buddhism.

Use of carefully selected quotes from the best Buddhist scholars and teachers are not just permitted, but strongly encouraged here

This is another element of this new approach to editing articles on Buddhism in Wikipedia. Up to 2015, the articles on core concepts in Buddhism had many quotes from renwned Buddhist scholars, both Western and traditional, both in the body of the text and in footnotes. This was strongly discouraged in the new approach that was adopted after that point. We didn't think that this is what the Wikipedia guidelines on quotes meant - but the view that quotes should be removed where possible now prevails there in the Buddhism topic area.

For us, this experience has helped to highlight the importance of such quotes in articles on Buddhism. We think that often the best way to present the core ideas of Buddhism is to use the words of Buddhist scholars (whether western academics or traditionally trained) who have had as their life's work to study the sutras, commentaries and scholarly literature and find the best ways of presenting them.

For this reason, quotes, properly introduced and placed in context where they are meaningful and add to the article, are not only permitted but strongly encouraged here. Articles can also link to or embed YouTube videos of recognized teachers and scholars talking about the teachings and practices in their tradition.

Views, beliefs and practices of modern Buddhists as our main focus

We assume that readers of this encyclopedia are most interested in the beliefs, views and practices of modern Buddhists. For this reason - the articles here will focus on core concepts of modern Buddhism in the various traditions. We can also have articles on the connections with other religions, historical background, early Buddhism and so on. But if you read an article on, say, the Four Noble Truths or Anatta then you can expect the main focus to be on the views of Buddhists.

The articles here can help you understand the views of friends who are Buddhist. They can also be a useful source on the variety of views and practices in your own religion if you are a dharma student, both your own tradition, and also, those of other traditions of Buddhism. The main focus here is on core concepts of Buddhism - though the encyclopedia is not restricted to such topics only, and if there is interest, may well spread out to other areas related to Buddhism.

This is a closed wiki - and it welcomes contributions from scholarly, knowledgeable and expert authors

We do not permit just anyone to edit this wiki. It's written instead by a small group of authors who know each other. As a result we don't need many rules, unlike Wikipedia. We may develop a few guidelines as the wiki progresses.

The guidelines on sources in wikipedia on secondary and primary sources are excellent as a starting point. This is not the idea as often misunderstood that you should use sources by authors that are "neutral" or "uninvolved" but rather that the best articles are ones that are written to present the material to a general audience rather than cutting edge material designed for other specialists.

For instance in science articles in wikipedia, you would normally by preference use articles by experts in the topic (so "insiders"), the same authors that are doing the leading edge research. But you use review articles, where available, in preference to articles presenting a particular author's views on the latest twists and turns of a rapidly changing field.

However, because this is a closed wiki, we don't need to have the same elaborate rules as for Wikipedia. We trust our expert members to know which sources are the best ones to use for their article topic. They can also do "original research" and write their own review articles of a topic area, if this is something they are qualified to be able to do.

Help from knowledgable editors in the various Buddhist traditions are much appreciated

This encyclopedia is being developed by two dharma students in order to further our own understanding. We hope that others may benefit from this effort.

If the encyclopedia proves to be of value, then it will be wonderful eventually to have editors in all the different traditions of Buddhism here, with articles on branches of Buddhism checked by practitioners of that branch who are knowledgeable about their own traditions, wherever possible.

We also are interested to have articles on these academic attempts at reconstruction of early Buddhism by Gombrich etc. Few traditional Buddhist are aware of this work and whether you agree with it or not, following the the Rimé approach, it's interesting to learn how they see things. Richard Gombrich is undoubtedly learned, sincere, and someone who has a wide understanding of early Indian religions at the time of the Buddha.

In that case also we think the best people to oversee such articles would be authors that are familiar with their work and have a deep understanding of it. It is easy for an outsider to make serious errors in attempts to summarize their intricate arguments.

This encyclopedia is devoted to topics on Buddhism or connected with Buddhism

The scope of this encyclopedia is any topic that is broadly connected with Buddhism. This includes the languages used for the Buddhist texts, with focus of course on the way any terms are used by Buddhist authors. It also includes the archaeology of Buddhism, modern academic studies of Buddhism, Buddhist literature (e.g. Buddhist poems and Buddhist fiction), Buddhist art, Buddhist music, Buddhist drama, comparative studies of Buddhism with other religions, and so on.

Original research is permitted here - a similar approach to Scholarpedia

Some articles here may present the original research by the authors. They will be clearly labeled as such, and attributed to the author. Typically they will have an avatar image and the author's name and chosen license for the text at top left.

Here is a test page to show what such an article may look like:

User:Robertinventor/attribution

Encyclopedic articles that contain what Wikipedia would call "original research" can be authored in the main space. For instance an expert author could write an original article that provides an overview of their field. They don't have to look for other review articles already published to source it to before they write it.

This is often an issue in Wikipedia if you are an expert in some topic. You know what to write and sometimes you write it first, but then you have to try to find secondary sources to back up your material with cites. In some topic areas they are hard to find, simply because nobody has written a review for a year or two and the field is rapidly developing. When that happens, you can only cite to primary sources - but then you may face the issue that none of the primary sources clearly present some essential point that would put their work in context for a newbie to the field. Something the experts all know but don't bother to explain because everyone else in the field knows it also.

By permitting orignal research here, then we can deal with such awkward situations. The authors can just explain the situation in their own words, so long as their article is clearly labeled as authored by them.

Personal blogs encouraged

Wikipedia has a rule that you can't use the encyclopedia for a personal blog. Although you are permitted personal expression in your user space there, even that has to be focused towards ways to improve the encyclopedia. That has to be the main objective of all your pages there, and of the talk page conversations too.

Here we have a much more informal approach. Although the main space articles have to be encylopedic, authors are encouraged to set up their own individual blogs here. These can for instance present their own researches, or a Buddhist teacher can outline their teachings, or an archaeologist or historian present their research, or creators can upload original art work, musical compositions, poetry, Buddhist news from your region, or whatever you like that has a Buddhist or Rimé theme to it.

Personal blogs do not need to be written in an encyclopedic style but can be informal in tone. They also can be written in a personal voice, you can say "I think". Just write in whatever style you wish to use.

They can be found under

Blogs

Here is an example article from my own blog

Blogs:Robert Walker/Life of the Buddha according to the sutras

Articles can be released under any license - defaults to creative commons share alike

As with Wikipedia the default license here is creative commons share alike. You are permitted to copy the article, modify it, and use it in any way you like, including commercial use. The only requirement is that you must attribute the original authors. We expect most articles to use this license - but be sure to check on the page first to make sure it hasn't been released under a different license. If no other license is given at the head of the article, this is the one in use for that page.

How to attribute articles from this encyclopedia if released under the creative commons share alike license (default)

As with Wikipedia, an appropriate way to attribute them on another website is to use a notice like this:

Template:Enc-Buddhism-Attrib

That uses the template Template:Tl which you can copy and use in your own wiki, if it is based on MediaWiki. Be sure to check the page license before using it.

However, you need to check the page before doing this. If it is released under a different license, this will be given at top left beneath the author's avatar. See this test page for an example: User:Robertinventor/attribution

If released under a different license

If it is released under a different license you can use Template:Tl to attribute these articles on another website. Again, you can copy this template over and use it in your own wiki, if it is based on MediaWiki.

e.g. {{Enc-Buddhism-Attrib-license|[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ CC BY-NC-ND 4.0]}}

generates: Template:Enc-Buddhism-Attrib-license

I.e. that the article has to be copied verbatim with no derivatives and can't be used commercially without permission from the author.

To customize the author

Or if it is an article with a named author at top left (or several authors), you can use Template:Tl to attribute these articles on another website. Once again, you can copy this template over and use it in your own wiki, if it is based on MediaWiki.


e.g. {{Enc-Buddhism-Attrib-Author-license|[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ CC BY-NC-ND 4.0]|Author: FirstName LastName}}

generates: Template:Enc-Buddhism-Attrib-Author-license

Importing articles from Wikipedia

These are "how to" instructions for editors of this wiki.

There are many excellent articles in the Buddhism topic area in Wikipedia. Nearly 6000 in total and most of them were originally written in a spirit similarly to that of the Rimé approach, of recognizing differences and using the writings of scholars within the traditions as the main sources for the articles. Generally, you can expect an article authored before October 2014 to follow this approach - though some articles such as the Anatta and Dzogchen ones were modified earlier in spring to summer 2014.

Also with so many articles and only a few editors remaining in the topic area there, it takes a while for them to update them all to match their new ideas about how to proceed. Many of the articles are essentially in the same state they were in from 2014 with only minor edits. The edits since then are often fixes of the articles by "wiki gnomes" dealing with typos, spelling, punctuation, grammar, broken links, wiki formatting etc so may be worth including. Or they may be by wikipedia editors that are not yet following this new approach. For others, even if they are heavily edited since then, they will still have the original article preserved in the articles history tab, if you scroll back to 2014.

So editors here may often wish to import an article from Wikipedia to use as their starting point.

How to import the current version of a Wikipedia article

To do that go to the Export pages section of wikipedia and enter the name of the article you wish to export. Be sure to select the check box "Include Templates" to make sure any necessary templates are copied over as well.

Then click on "Export" and in the dialog that pops up in your browser choose Save File.

Then go to the import page of this wiki: Import pages

Browse for the file you have just exported and click on Import.

Finally be sure to attribute the page you just imported, to its original authors in wikipedia.

Just copy / paste this to the end of the page:

Template:Tl

How to import an earlier version of a Wikipedia article

If you wish to use an earlier version of the page, you can still export and import the latest version first. This may be useful as a way to make sure you have all the necessary templates, if they aren't here already, as well as simultaneously creating a page here with the same name as the original article.

However, then go to the pages history tab of the original article, find the dated version you want to copy (usually september or october 2014, sometimes earlier, sometimes later), and click edit and copy / paste over to the new page in this wiki.

Also be sure to remove the template Template:Tl from the head of the article, as this will mark it as an old out of date article.

This time, to attribute the original article, use the template: Template:Tl But this time you have to add extra paremteres to identifiy the original page and give its month and year last edited, as:

{{En-WP-Attrib-date|oldid|year|monthnumber}}

You get the oldid from the url for the old version of the page.

E.g. suppose the page is:

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=First_Buddhist_council&oldid=705587374

The top of that page shows the date as February 2016. The oldid is 705587374.

So the template is:

{{En-WP-Attrib-date|705587374|2016|2}}

which, when attached to the First Buddhist council page in this encyclopedia will generate an attribution to the First Buddhist council page on Wikipedia for February 2016. For details see the documentation for Template:Tl

Attributing other versions of Wikipedia or other wikis with a similar format and the same license

To attribute an article from another wiki use Template:Tl

Example: {{WP-Attrib-url|//nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringu_Tulku_Rinpoche|Netherlands Wikipedia|Ringu Tulku Rinpoche}}

Generates:

Template:WP-Attrib-url

If the article has issues needing attention of an expert

Many of the Wikipedia articles in this topic area are excellent, but some can be of variable quality. If the article you import has issues and you are not able to fix it right away (don't have the time or don't have the expertise), you can flag it as needing the attention of an expert, using the template Template:Tl.

Before doing that, you can try the history tab to see if an earlier version is okay. But if you think it still needs attention, then you can use this template to attract expert attention.

The format is:

{{Template:Expert_needed|Buddhism|reason=reason}}} Or you can start a discussion on the talk piage in which case it is

{{Template:Expert_needed|Buddhism|reason=reason|talk=talk_page_section}}}

For details see the documentation for Template:Tl

If you want to help fix these articles, you can find a list of the articles with this template attached here:

Special:WhatLinksHere/Template:Expert_needed

Once you have fixed the article, just remove the template. If the article was mistakenly tagged and you are sure as an expert that it is okay, just remove the template. You may like to say a few words on the talk page about your edit, either way.

Special considerations about importing articles on internal and external contemporary Buddhist politics

Some of the articles in wikipedia, for instance articles about particular countries, cover political situations such as the actions of Buddhists in Myangmar, and violence by Buddhists generally. There are mischievous people in every religion and political system, and mischievous non religious people also.

As the Dalia Lama said, talking about 9/11 in his Address to Muslim Co-ordination Committee in Ladakh on 16th July 2014, 13 minutes into this video:


"Terrorist act carried by Muslim. But because of this incident shouldn't generalize, that the whole of Muslim is something negative. This is totaly wrong. Unfair. Some mischievous people among all followers of different traditions. Amongst Hindus some mischievous people there. Amongst Jews. Amongst the Christian. Among the Buddhist. Yes there are mischievous people there. Those few mischievous people, use that then generalize the tradition - that’s totally wrong.”

If someone wants to, they can start a new "Encyclopedia of Contemporary Buddhist politics" to cover the topic of "mischievous Buddhists".

We feel that it is best to just not cover contemporary Buddhist politics here, for the present at least. That's for the purpose of simplicity and to focus our attention on our main mission here.

It's the same also for divisions within the Sangha and other matters of internal Buddhist politics. They don't need to be "mishievous people" for this to happen either. Sometimes even with good faith and sincerity on all parts, bitter disputes can arise over interpretations of doctrines, behaviour of individuals, and policies. For simplicity we are just not going to cover those topics here at present. We wish to focus on what we see as our priorities, to get together a clear encyclopedic presentation of the diversity of Buddhist teachings in the spirit of Rimé.

So, if you import an article from Wikipedia, especially a biography of a contemporary Buddhist, or an article about Buddhism in a particular country, do check for the presence of any material on contemporary internal or external Buddhist politics. If you find such, do remove it. This doesn't apply to politics aboout times long past. Of course there are passages about what we can call "Buddhist politics" right back to the time of the Buddha in the Buddhist sutras. For instance the sutras have passages about the first ever division of the sangha under Devadatta, the cousin and brother in law of Gautama Buddha. But those are not problematical in the same way, not something to stir up present day bitterness and anxiety, and can give us valuable insights into issues such as these, for the present and the future.

Special considerations for importing biographies

Biographies are a matter for special attention in any encyclopedia, and especially biographies of living people. We need to be especially careful about biographies as many Wikipedia biographies contain material that according to Wikipedia's own guidelines should not be included. We apply these guidelines strictly. If a biography imported from wikiopedia contains any material of this type just delete it right away; don't wait to discuss it first.

These are the guidelines in Wikipedia which I think would have lead to much of the material in some of these wikipedia biographies being removed if they had been applied properly:

Most of the Wikipedia bios about Buddhist figures are problem free. But some of them have badly sourced and possibly fake personal information in them that must go against many of these guidelines. So it is a precarious matter importing them into this encyclopedia. The biographies do need to be checked. Unfortunately so because there are sevearl thousand Buddhist biographies in Wikipedia, many of which are problem free and useful.

Minimal biography

Also, on top of that, this is not a general encyclopedia but specifically an encyclopedia about the Buddhist teachings. It is interesting to touch on the lives of some of the Buddhist teachers here, especially details such as

  • Who their own teachers are or were
  • Notable students
  • Place and date of birth
  • Style of teaching, including the tradition(s) of Buddhism they teach within, and where they taught / teach.
  • Bibliography - list of their writings. When it is a published author with books or other works you can access - buy or find in a library or read online. Perhaps this is the most interesting section for this encyclopedia.
  • Minimal basic chronology of their life
  • In the case of Tulkus, then their previous and next incarnations and their reincarnation lineage

Beyond that, details of their personal lives are not the main focus unless particularly relevant to their style of teaching or to Buddhism (for instance of course we would cover the sixth Dalai Lama's poetry and decision not to follow a monastic path).

We could have a minimal bio template. Then if the article just consists of a filled in template it is clear that it is a minimal bio to the reader and they would not expect details.

The most important section for this encyclopedia might be the bibliography. The most minimal bio might just be a page with a list of their writings or video links to them teaching.

How to deal with the few bios with allegations and controversies

So far I can think of four ways we could deal with articles in Wikipedia with controversy sections or allegations, or lawsuits or other potentially controversial personal matters in them. We could use any of these approaches or a mixture of several - or is there some other solution we can try?

  1. Don't import the biographies with controversies or allegations in them
  2. Edit biographies to remove the controversial sections. We could use the Wikipedia attribution template and add an extra line: "(Controversial personal information redacted from this bio)"
  3. Roll back to the last version in the edit history without material on controversies or allegations. If the first entry in Wikipedia history is already controversial, don't import it at all.
  4. Give a minimal entry for a Buddhist with a bio like this - roll back to an early entry - but remove all except the barest details. This could be especially useful if the article has so much controversial material intermingled that there is no single easy to remove section, or if the very first history entry already has personal allegations and other controversial material.
  5. Minimal bio template (see previous section)
  6. Level playing field idea. Simply don't have any biographies at all of contemporary Buddhists.

The second option, to edit to remove controversy - is a bit awkward as it steers rather close to "white washing" the entry. However if the template says "(Controversial personal information redacted from this bio)" that would make it easier.

The idea to use the first non controversial edit has the disadvantage that the result may be a fan biography with fullsome praise of a controversial figure.

I'm inclined to go for 4. In the case of a bio like this, to roll back to an early non controversial entry - and also then just trim it down to a minimal biography. Acknowledge them as a Buddhist but have the minimum amount here that's needed so as to have as little as possible chance of stirring up divisions and controversy here in either direction.

That way nobody can tell from a biography if the figure is considered controversial by some, or just that it is a short stub biography. Also, that way, there just isn't enough material for anyone to get worked up about it who has been involved in any controversy about that figure.

I also like 5, a new idea, minimal bio template. Solves a lot of issues.

The 6th option is a shame as there are many good biographies of figures with no controversy about them at all. By far the majority of Buddhist teachers are not controversial in any way. So why delete all their biographies because of the few that are controversial?

Also I think it is important to bear in mind that the ones that are controversial may not deserve the controversy. In Buddhism as in other fields of life, then some people end up being caught up in a controversy that is none of their making, just as a result of being in a place and time where controversy follows from skillful and beneficial activity. The allegations may also be false and even a successful court case can sometimes be a miscarriage of justice.

The first is the easiest to apply right away, and may be a good interim solution. There are many articles not imported yet, so we can just leave biographies with controversies in them to be imported at a later stage once we have a clear idea of how to deal with the issue.

The second solution is okay - but adding that line about redacting controversial information is a bit iffy even if it is unobtrusive. We don't want to encourage readers to click through to the original article to find out what was redacted. which may be inaccurate, based on hearsay, or totally fake even. It's a tricky one.

If you want to check the biographies of living people in the encyclopedia so far, to check that we haven't imported any controversies accidentally, there is a list here: Category:Living people.

Do notify us if you come across any such material in the encyclopedia, thanks!

NOT FOR INCLUSION IN THE ENCYCLOPEDIA ABOUT

[THIS NEXT BIT IS NOT FOR INCLUSION IN THE ENCYCLOPEDIA DRAFT BUT JUST FOR OUR OWN PERSONAL USE]

For the second idea, then here are examples of the last non controversial biographies of several figures

Geshe Kelsang https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Kelsang_Gyatso&direction=next&oldid=18862494

Sogyal Rinpoche https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sogyal_Rinpoche&oldid=111022088

Trungpa Rinpoche https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ch%C3%B6gyam_Trungpa&oldid=27379858

Richard Baker (Zen Buddhist) - this one has scandal mentioned already in the first version so would not be importable with that rule. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Zentatsu_Richard_Baker&oldid=9108726

References

  1. Dalai Lama | Sage's Harmonious Song of Truth. Lotsawa House (28 February 1999).
  2. The Rime ( Ris-Med ) Movement. Abuddhistlibrary.com (24 July 2000). Retrieved 20 November 2011.
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