Home » Letters » Is It Okay To Attend Controversial ‘Dharma’ Events?

Question: If there is a controversial ‘Buddhist’ organisation with a controversial ‘teacher’ or associated disciple ‘teachers’, that is hosting a ‘Dharma’ event, is it okay to attend only the parts that are ‘alright’, such as the chanting ceremonies?

Answer: It is best to avoid such events for the following reasons. [1] Even for long-time practitioners, it is not easy to discern which parts of the activities are truly ‘alright’. Even traditional chanting sessions might be tweaked unknowingly, e.g. with edited ‘sutra’ texts (that are not actual sutras taught by the Buddha, which cause confusion and division in the Buddhist community). [2] Even if only chanting sessions are attended, there might be ‘Dharma’ talks interspersed and other materials distributed, that might potentially mislead, even without the participants’ knowledge, due to lack of clarity of mind.

[3] Even after noting the above, merely being present at such events gives support to the organisation, making it look popular, which in turn helps to draw in more crowds, which unfortunately might include those who are not as clear-minded in noting these considerations, thus potentially becoming confused. Friends and acquaintances who spot one another at such events might, even without further clarifying, see one another’s presence to be endorsement of everything represented and misrepresented by the organisation too. It is therefore best to attend only events of proper Buddhist organisations.

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