I recently posted the message below (which I’ve edited lightly) on a forum for members of the Triratna Buddhist Order, which I’m a part of. It offers more thoughts on a literary fraud that’s being perpetrated by Shambhala Publications, the largest publisher of Buddhist books in the west, and suggests a few courses of action.
A lot of people in Triratna — especially women — are very excited by Matty Weingast’s book, “The First Free Women: Poems of the Early Buddhist Nuns,” which was published early last year by Shambhala Publications, and now seems to be gaining great popularity.…
IMPORTANT NOTE: The following letter was written to protest the way in which the book, “The First Free Women,” was inaccurately presented by Shambhala Publications as a translation of a Buddhist scripture (the Therigatha), when in fact it was a book of original poetry, loosely inspired by the early Buddhist nuns whose poems are collected in that work.
As as result of this protest (not just the letter here, but the work of many individuals, Shambhala has agreed to withdraw the book from sale and to republish it in a firm that makes it clear the book is an …
Venerable Akaliko has written a brilliant exposé of the travesty that is “The First Free Women: Poems of the Early Buddhist Nuns.” This purports to be a translation, by Matty Weingast, of poems originally written, as you’d expect, by early Buddhist nuns who lived up to 2,500 years ago.
Actually it’s a book of poems Matty made up and is passing off as the words of those nuns.
This affair gives every appearance of being a deeply deceptive and cynical exercise by both Matty and Shambhala, the book’s publisher. Much of the deception being practiced by Matty is self-deception. He …
In the Sutta Central discussion forum, Ayya Sudhamma (who goes by the handle “@Charlotteannun” there), posted an interesting analysis of a supposed translation of the Therigatha. The title literally means “Poems of the elder nuns,” and it’s an ancient Buddhist compilation of poems or songs composed by enlightened female disciples of the Buddha. It, and its counterpart the Theragatha (“Poems of the elder monks”), are among my favorite texts, since they directly and vividly present the voices of practitioners two and a half millennia ago, giving insight into their outer and inner lives.
I recently found this quote, “Rule your mind or it will rule you,” in a note I’d made to myself over five years ago. (How time flies!) It was posted by a woman I used to follow on the now-defunct (and for me, much-lamented) social media site Google+.
The quote isn’t at all in the style of the Buddhist scriptures, which made me suspicious. Actually I was more than suspicious; I was certain it wasn’t from the Buddha. The style is far too polished and literary, while the Buddhist scriptures tend to be rather clunky.