Question: How should I deal with printed (books, flyers and posters) and DVD materials which misrepresent the Buddha’s teachings that I come across? (E.g. materials from ‘Buddhist’ cult groups) Will there be negative karma created if there are Buddha images and teachings in them destroyed?
Answer: For books, you can tear off the front and back covers to make them look unlabelled and unattractive to read, and slip them folded between the pages to hide them. You can next wrap the material with unwanted papers like old newspapers before putting it in a paper recycling bin. For loose paper materials, you can fold them up as many times as possible. There is no need to tear up any Buddha images. Recycling is good for the environment; there is no need to trash the materials with other unrecyclable waste.
For DVDs and CDs, you can scratch them on uneven ground to make them unusable before wrapping them with other plastic materials for recycling too. If there are no Buddha images on them, you can simply break them. As you would be destroying non-Dharma, there is no slander of the Dharma involved. Instead, it is protecting the precious Dharma from being propagated wrongly. Even if there is a handful of right Dharma teachings in them, destroying them is safer, lest others who are less discerning pay attention to the wrong parts instead.
That said, it might be good for those doing research to hang on to such materials, to use them for teaching materials on how the Dharma is misrepresented these days and how it should be properly represented. However they should be kept out of reach of those with less understanding, not placed side by side in one’s collection of actual Dharma books. If you have sufficient knowledge of what is wrong in the materials, it is good to share with those in charge of places that circulate them, on why they should stop doing so. This helps to prevent spread of wrong Dharma more proactively. Never ever return or pass the materials to anyone else because it means the potential to confuse others will remain.
How To Handle Damaged Dharma Materials
How To Handle Unneeded Dharma Materials