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I've made my mind up


sumbloke

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Back in the early part of the summer I had an email exchange with a small number of people asking me not to continue my story Dhamma-Vinaya Bums. A couple of them were just frankly rather prudish lay Buddhists who seemed to me to be struggling with their own homophobia. Nonetheless, I tried to understand what they were saying and to discuss it with them. Then one of them asked a Bhikku to have a look at the story and give an opinion. OK, no problem the story is out there in the public domain and anyone can read it. A couple of days after I'd heard about this I got an e-mail from the monk himself. He was very friendly and polite but he asked me to consider not publishing any more of the story. Actually he asked that if I was going to continue to publish the story would I please not do it on nifty. His reasons were that although he didn't object to the gay theme and accepted that there was nothing distasteful in the story people would

  • Think the story was an authoritative description of Buddhism
  • Be confused by it appearing on a site that hosted so much pornographic writing

I wrote back saying that I understood the second point and would think about it but that the first point seemed very odd to me. All Buddhists talk about the dhamma given the opportunity to share. Although we recognise the authority of the bhikku/bhikkuni sangha as authoritative teachers of dhamma we don't need their permission to explain Buddhism when the opportunity arises. Sure, we can probably make mistakes but most of us will tell the dhamma as we know and understand it within our own limits. That's surely how it should be? But, I did listen to the Venerable Bhikku and I said I would think about what he said.

 

In the meantime I was still getting e-mails from a few people saying that the story brought the Buddha Dhamma into disrepute. I didn't really listen to those because I just didn't think it was true. Then I got a reply from the Bhikku. I had pointed out to him that I had been very clear that people could look to Access to Insightfor a reliable source of information about Buddhism and that I had explained that the story wasn't meant to teach them about Buddhism. I told him again that I was thinking seriously about what he said about the story being on nifty and the fear that people would be misled because it appeared on a site that contained pornographic writing. OK.

 

He wrote again. He conceded the first point about teaching about Buddhism and said that he'd re-read the story and he thought that it was fine. On the second point he was still very concerned. His problem was that some of the content on nifty was unacceptable from a Buddhist perspective (now, that doesn't mean Buddhists would ceonsor it I hasten to add but that they wouldn't want to read it or be associated with it) and he was afraid that the story would be tarnished by assocation. Well...I thought about it and I wrote back and said, it's my story, it's my reputation. It isn't the Buddha Dhamma or the Sangha that's being tarnished it's me.

 

During this time I'd held off publishing any more of the story and was getting emails from people asking why I'd given up. Then came my holidays, and Seb...I decided that I would get back to the story once school started but so far I haven't. And then out of the blue I get another e-mail this morning from the Venerable Bhikku telling me that he's very pleased that I haven't continued to publish any more fo the story but could I arrange to have the existing chapters removed! He added to his previous complaints the title of the story "Dhamma-Vinaya" means "Doctrine and Discipline" and the title is just a little joke at the expense of Jack Kerouack who wrote a hippy road novel called Dharma Bums.

 

Well...to be honest and with the greatest respect for the Venerable Monk I decided I needed some advice and so I rang my Dhamma teacher, the monk who used to teach me Sunday school, who gives me Pali lessons and is more or less my "guru". I was a bit embarrassed because I'd never told him about Dhamma-Vinaya Bums. Anyway he just rang me back a few minutes ago to say he'd read straight through the whole story, had a look around nifty and he was quite sure that I should keep writing the story and posting it there. Bhikku P said that I should write a note to the Monk who had voiced objections inviting him to write to my dhamma teacher to discuss the matter if he found something offensive.

 

I'm chuffed. The story was put on hold for the summer anyway but the people who had enjoyed it had written to me everytime one of the six chapters was posted encouraging me and I really wanted to finish it. So now I will. Of course this means that poor old Ray will be asked to edit more of my execrable prose and my hideous Spanish but that's an editor's life...

 

peace out. rock on.

3 Comments


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Should the Bible not be available in any library that also contains Lady Chatterley's Lover? I don't think so. Stick to your guns, write the story. Nifty holds many types of stories sexual and non-sexual. There is no reason not to.

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I'm with Coming on this one, I'm glad you decided to keep posting. Besides, that Bhikku you were talking too seems pretty unreasonable...what better place to turn people onto his religion than a profile on a site that is probably acessed mostly by people who know nothing about it? At any rate, good luck!

 

go team!

 

-db :ph34r:

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Bloke-

 

If you are concerned about point #2- your story appearing on a site with a lot of sexual content, maybe you would be more comfortable with a different venue.

 

There are a number of sites that shy away from "hardcore" stories and tend more towards PG-13.

 

I don't like the idea of censoring anyones work but the reason I don't publish at Nifty is that I'm uncomfortable with my work sitting side by side with stuff that is... stuff that makes me uncomfortable to be sitting side by side with. :unsure:

 

Hey- there's nothing WRONG with erotic content but to me, a story is pretty boring if that's all there is too it. I know how to have sex and don't need to pick up any pointers. Show me a successful relationship and I'll read with rapt attention since I could really use some work there. :/

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