Restricted Publications-An Effective or Ineffective Tactic?

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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby conebeckham » Sun Mar 23, 2014 9:34 pm

There are a lot of interesting aspects to this discussion, BTW, Aside from the content of the Zabmo Nangdon. Thanks for bringing them up!

You know, traditionally a given text would be presented to a student, by a master, and studied in detail. This still happens, of course. But the issue of transmission, vs. "mere curiosity" or "intellectual information" is one aspect of this thread. Of course, that doesn't mean there weren't autodidact Lamas in the past...of course there were.

There's the issue of commerce, of course. The issue of "freedom of information" as well as the related issue of Tantric Samaya, and secret practices.

These are all interesting areas of discussion, and I have no problem with them being discussed here.

As Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso is one of my teachers, I respect the restrictions he has apparently placed on the purchase of this translation. But I also don't wish to "read" this book to satisfy my curiosity, but to inform my practice. You know, for instance, the idea of "tasting amrita" which has come up here, and on the earlier thread, is something Vajrayana practitioners practicing certain sadhanas do on a daily basis. You need to have the explanation of this practice in order to effectively do it, at any level, from the symbolic or figurative, to the so-called "actual" level. Pero brings up some interesting points about a given book generating interest and being an impetus for searching out transmission--but as we've seen, the opposite can happen, as well!

But for people who have experience and some exposure to these topics, I think restrictions are a bit......"elitist," to borrow a term. In any case, people will find ways around these things, and I am not the Dharma Police. I have a hard enough time policing my own behavior, eh?

Thanks for the discussion, everyone--by all means, continue.
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby Karma Jinpa » Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:35 am

With all the issues raised here, I can't help but wonder how much of this is affected by the fact that not too long ago Tibetans were using woodblocks to print, and now they've been thrust into an age of modern printing presses, the internet, and e-books. Have to imagine that it was much easier for lamas to keep track of which student was ready to read what text when the process was less automated and more limited in scope.

It also makes me curious about what things will look like in another 50 years, and how many traditional restrictions will have been lifted by then. Some of the most widely read and practiced texts these days were only a few generations ago limited to a 1-to-1 transmission... We live in a very interesting time, folks!
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby Tom » Mon Mar 24, 2014 1:22 am

Pero wrote:
Tom wrote:
conebeckham wrote:Just an FYI, saw that Elizabeth Callahan has translated this, along with Kongtrul's commentary, and it will be available as a restricted text in September from Shambhala. Website says you must have completed ngondro, have had pointing out instructions, and be practicing HYT yidam under the guidance of a qualified lama.

This is great news.I actually support the publishing of certain books with restrictions since I think it encourages people to get instruction from lineage masters. But, I guess soon It will be a pdf on the internet and people will be quoting from it on dharmawheel!

That is funny because I think it totally depends on the person. Me, it doesn't have that effect at all. I don't see why I would run to receive some instruction that I don't know anything about. On the other hand if I were able to read something and found it interesting, then I certainly would try to get the transmission. Perfect example is "Buddhahood without meditation". If I hadn't read it I wouldn't be interested in getting that particular transmission (and there was an oppurtunity last year but alas my circumstances sucked and I couldn't go).


Yes, I get your point. I was more thinking that restrictions communicate to the audience that certain texts are best received with instructions from a lama. Perhaps for most texts a message at the front of the book would suffice.

I understand that there will always be people who think books should never be restricted and should be open for all to learn from. However, I don't agree with the reasoning that if you can buy a book in a market in Tibet or download if from TBRC, then it should be available in English free of restrictions. Let's not confuse something being available with something being unrestricted. It seems to me the argument runs like this: those who read Tibetan and don't meet the restrictions can still read the text and so in all fairness we should let those English readers who don't meet the restrictions also read the texts. I can read Tibetan, but I don't think that the ability to read Tibetan then qualifies a person to read, for example root tantric texts without initiation simply because they are available. Many texts that are easily available in Tibetan and are still treated as restricted texts by Tibetan lamas. For example, when my teacher received this particular text many moons ago he said that it was given to only a few lamas and that even the cook was asked to leave.
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby mutsuk » Mon Mar 24, 2014 8:51 am

Pero wrote:I understand that there will always be people who think books should never be restricted and should be open for all to learn from.

Starting with Lopon Tenzin Namdak for instance, based on advise received directly from Protectors.

However, I don't agree with the reasoning that if you can buy a book in a market in Tibet or download if from TBRC, then it should be available in English free of restrictions.

This is nonsense. What is good enough for Tibetans who may or may not have received initiations should be good enough for Westerners who may or may not have received initiations for reading such and such a book. With your trend of reasoning projects like 84 000 would be truncated from its tantric section which is certainly the most important one. I'd like to see you give back all the books you've read that you did not have transmission or authorization for...

I know a lot of people for whom there are lots of restricted texts that they received in transmission which they personally can't afford (except for illegal downloads) because of their prices. The fact remains that this "restricted book" policy is there to charge big bucks. If the guys at Shambhala sell the book 15 or 20 bucks I'll apologize for criticizing them. But it's surely going to be one of those "auspiciously priced" 108 bucks book. The fate of such books is to end up free in pdf somewhere on the internet. In this respect what DKR does definitely helps more.
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby alpha » Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:58 am

mutsuk wrote:
Pero wrote:I understand that there will always be people who think books should never be restricted and should be open for all to learn from.

Starting with Lopon Tenzin Namdak for instance, based on advise received directly from Protectors.


Is the story true that Rinpoche was instructed that the teachings should be made publicly available to anyone for the reason that otherwise the Bon teachings would disappear within few generations?
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby mutsuk » Mon Mar 24, 2014 1:00 pm

alpha wrote:
mutsuk wrote:
Pero wrote:I understand that there will always be people who think books should never be restricted and should be open for all to learn from.

Starting with Lopon Tenzin Namdak for instance, based on advise received directly from Protectors.


Is the story true that Rinpoche was instructed that the teachings should be made publicly available to anyone for the reason that otherwise the Bon teachings would disappear within few generations?

Yes but the "real story" is that all of this was conducted on several occasions through "mo" divinations and visionary experiences that were made by Lopon Sangye Tenzin at the time. The answers from the Protectors were each time more than positive and actually urging the masters to start teaching Dzogchen curriculum in a complete form, in particular Thogel since Thogel is the core of Dzogchen. The positive answer was to teach that without restriction to all who are sincerely interested in putting these teachings into actual practice, not casual readers or "practitioners", which means serious people willing to engage actual retreats. This is why reading Heart Drops of Dharmakaya, for instance is not enough (contrary to what Jax thinks), one needs : 1. an actual transmission (lung), 2. a corresponding initiation (dbang, from the KSRS or Namkha Dzo), 3. guidance in the form of an experiential transmission (to learn how to actually perform the practice with specific numbers of days for each, what signs are likely to manifest, etc.). There is actually a very strict program for such practices.
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby Tom » Mon Mar 24, 2014 1:38 pm

mutsuk wrote:This is nonsense. What is good enough for Tibetans who may or may not have received initiations should be good enough for Westerners who may or may not have received initiations for reading such and such a book.


What is nonsense? You did not seem to understand my post. As I said, I understand that people are against restrictions on principle - I get that. In this case, it is really besides the point if the Tibetan texts are restricted or not.

However, if you believe the texts should be restricted then why would you criticize the restrictions placed on an English translation. Again, whether the Tibetan texts are restricted or not, or if the texts are available on Scribd, is really besides the point. If anything, I would think that the availability without restrictions should be your source of criticism.

mutsuk wrote:I know a lot of people for whom there are lots of restricted texts that they received in transmission which they personally can't afford (except for illegal downloads) because of their prices. The fact remains that this "restricted book" policy is there to charge big bucks. If the guys at Shambhala sell the book 15 or 20 bucks I'll apologize for criticizing them. But it's surely going to be one of those "auspiciously priced" 108 bucks book. The fate of such books is to end up free in pdf somewhere on the internet. In this respect what DKR does definitely helps more.


So, are you okay with restrictions as long as the price is reasonable ???... even if the texts are available in Tibetan... it seems your issues is actually about price.

You say that the "fact remains that this "restricted book" policy is there to charge big bucks," but do you have any evidence that their reason for restricting the books is to make more profit? Or, is this not a fact, but you just talking nonsense. I understand Shambhala is a business and strives to make a profit. However, most people realize it costs money to print books and when you are selling a limited number of them you loose economies of scale and so it is understandable the price goes up.
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby Osho » Mon Mar 24, 2014 1:51 pm

What part of the word 'publishing' don't Shambhala understand?
No issue here at all with secret restricted materials.
The Freemasons have those and they are not 'published' but circulated privately to those who need to learn the words of the rituals therein.
( I'm not a mason BTW).
My issue with this particularly privileged book with its restricted circulation to 'adepts' or others whom Shambhala Press deem to be suitable readers of the materials is one of inclusion and exclusion.
If something is published then all who wish to do so have access to that which has been published if only via a copyright library.
If something is not for general circulation then it should not be published at all but privately distributed.
Shambhala's actions here might lead to speculation that the work contains distasteful or dubious materials the general publication of which could bring opprobrium upon the company.
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby mutsuk » Mon Mar 24, 2014 2:21 pm

Tom wrote:What is nonsense? You did not seem to understand my post.

No I did not. You post does not blaze with clarity.

In this case, it is really besides the point if the Tibetan texts are restricted or not.

You don't understand the point.

However, if you believe the texts should be restricted then why would you criticize the restrictions placed on an English translation.

You have not understood my post.

Again, whether the Tibetan texts are restricted or not, or if the texts are available on Scribd, is really besides the point.

Precisely not. And by chance there are other possibilities than Scribd which is turning into a business itself.

So, are you okay with restrictions as long as the price is reasonable ???...

Again you have not understood my point.

even if the texts are available in Tibetan... it seems your issues is actually about price.

You keep not understanding. My point is that using restriction to charge more.

Or, is this not a fact, but you just talking nonsense.

Oh I am always, constantly, and for ever talking nonsense.

I understand Shambhala is a business and strives to make a profit. However, most people realize it costs money to print books and when you are selling a limited number of them you loose economies of scale and so it is understandable the price goes up.

Decency should be a key point in this issue. The price of so-called restricted books are not decent. It is a good fate for them to end up for free on the internet.
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby Tom » Mon Mar 24, 2014 2:33 pm

mutsuk wrote:Decency should be a key point in this issue. The price of so-called restricted books are not decent. It is a good fate for them to end up for free on the internet.


I agree that the price of these books should be descent. Sorry, I haven't understood your other points.
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby conebeckham » Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:44 pm

Shifting gears a little bit for me...

About the price. Look, it costs a lot of money to publish any book. Shambhala is not making huge profits. Snow Lion certainly wasn't. The translators are not getting rich,of that you can be assured. The readership of such specialized books is very small. I've not looked at the prices for all the books in the restricted section, but I can tell you that I've seen prices in the $40-60's. This is frankly not outrageous, in my opinion. Textbooks cost far more. Even this "$108" dollars that was quoted, well......that's still far cheaper than a college hardback textbook.

And if a given book is truly precious, a source of refuge or inspiration, a benefit to one's practice, what, really, can be said about the price of such a thing?

About the "Gatekeeper" function....as I understand it, Shambhala is merely "enforcing" or complying with the regulations for purchase bestowed upon the text by a given translator, or a given Lama. Some people here are quick to blame Shambhala for some sort of "scheme" of control, when in fact I don't believe they are instituting the scheme--though certainly they are supporting and participating in it. This point apparently needs to be made clear, based upon some previous posts.
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby Malcolm » Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:00 pm

conebeckham wrote:Shifting gears a little bit for me...

About the price. Look, it costs a lot of money to publish any book. Shambhala is not making huge profits. Snow Lion certainly wasn't. The translators are not getting rich,of that you can be assured. The readership of such specialized books is very small. I've not looked at the prices for all the books in the restricted section, but I can tell you that I've seen prices in the $40-60's. This is frankly not outrageous, in my opinion. Textbooks cost far more. Even this "$108" dollars that was quoted, well......that's still far cheaper than a college hardback textbook.

And if a given book is truly precious, a source of refuge or inspiration, a benefit to one's practice, what, really, can be said about the price of such a thing?

About the "Gatekeeper" function....as I understand it, Shambhala is merely "enforcing" or complying with the regulations for purchase bestowed upon the text by a given translator, or a given Lama. Some people here are quick to blame Shambhala for some sort of "scheme" of control, when in fact I don't believe they are instituting the scheme--though certainly they are supporting and participating in it. This point apparently needs to be made clear, based upon some previous posts.


My point is that such restrictions are totally arbitrary and are not based on genuine and sound reasoning.
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby conebeckham » Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:15 pm

Malcolm wrote:
conebeckham wrote:Shifting gears a little bit for me...

About the price. Look, it costs a lot of money to publish any book. Shambhala is not making huge profits. Snow Lion certainly wasn't. The translators are not getting rich,of that you can be assured. The readership of such specialized books is very small. I've not looked at the prices for all the books in the restricted section, but I can tell you that I've seen prices in the $40-60's. This is frankly not outrageous, in my opinion. Textbooks cost far more. Even this "$108" dollars that was quoted, well......that's still far cheaper than a college hardback textbook.

And if a given book is truly precious, a source of refuge or inspiration, a benefit to one's practice, what, really, can be said about the price of such a thing?

About the "Gatekeeper" function....as I understand it, Shambhala is merely "enforcing" or complying with the regulations for purchase bestowed upon the text by a given translator, or a given Lama. Some people here are quick to blame Shambhala for some sort of "scheme" of control, when in fact I don't believe they are instituting the scheme--though certainly they are supporting and participating in it. This point apparently needs to be made clear, based upon some previous posts.


My point is that such restrictions are totally arbitrary and are not based on genuine and sound reasoning.


Well, if it's true that the restrictions are placed upon the texts by the "supervising Lamas"-for example, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso, His Holiness Sakya Trizin--your argument is addressed to them, and not to Shambhala. Correct?

To be clear, I'm not saying the restrictions are NOT arbitrary or well-Reasoned. Frankly, I don't know. In fact, to know, one would have to have some sort of telepathic ability, or at the very least to have had personal discussions with the parties.
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby Malcolm » Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:31 pm

conebeckham wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
conebeckham wrote:Shifting gears a little bit for me...

About the price. Look, it costs a lot of money to publish any book. Shambhala is not making huge profits. Snow Lion certainly wasn't. The translators are not getting rich,of that you can be assured. The readership of such specialized books is very small. I've not looked at the prices for all the books in the restricted section, but I can tell you that I've seen prices in the $40-60's. This is frankly not outrageous, in my opinion. Textbooks cost far more. Even this "$108" dollars that was quoted, well......that's still far cheaper than a college hardback textbook.

And if a given book is truly precious, a source of refuge or inspiration, a benefit to one's practice, what, really, can be said about the price of such a thing?

About the "Gatekeeper" function....as I understand it, Shambhala is merely "enforcing" or complying with the regulations for purchase bestowed upon the text by a given translator, or a given Lama. Some people here are quick to blame Shambhala for some sort of "scheme" of control, when in fact I don't believe they are instituting the scheme--though certainly they are supporting and participating in it. This point apparently needs to be made clear, based upon some previous posts.


My point is that such restrictions are totally arbitrary and are not based on genuine and sound reasoning.


Well, if it's true that the restrictions are placed upon the texts by the "supervising Lamas"-for example, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso, His Holiness Sakya Trizin--your argument is addressed to them, and not to Shambhala. Correct?

To be clear, I'm not saying the restrictions are NOT arbitrary or well-Reasoned. Frankly, I don't know. In fact, to know, one would have to have some sort of telepathic ability, or at the very least to have had personal discussions with the parties.


The point is that if you decide to translate something, and then have it published by Snow Lion etc., then the idea of restricting it becomes absurd. If on the other hand, you privately publish a book and control the dissemination of the text, that is a different story.
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby Pero » Mon Mar 24, 2014 10:13 pm

conebeckham wrote:Pero brings up some interesting points about a given book generating interest and being an impetus for searching out transmission--but as we've seen, the opposite can happen, as well!

But for people who have experience and some exposure to these topics, I think restrictions are a bit......"elitist," to borrow a term.

Ah that's a good point. It's quite possible that if I had read BWM before receiving other teachings it would've gone over my head and I'd just move on without thinking twice about it.

Tom wrote:Yes, I get your point. I was more thinking that restrictions communicate to the audience that certain texts are best received with instructions from a lama. Perhaps for most texts a message at the front of the book would suffice.

Maybe they do to some but I think it would be better to encourage people to get the transmission if they're interested in putting whatever text they're reading into practice instead of telling them they can't read it.
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby pensum » Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:49 am

Pero wrote:Maybe they do to some but I think it would be better to encourage people to get the transmission if they're interested in putting whatever text they're reading into practice instead of telling them they can't read it.


Having reflected on this issue quite a lot over the years i have come to the conclusion that a shift to a more positive approach would be much more beneficial for all concerned. People are too often hung out to dry and made to feel inferior, so instead of saying "Here's this amazing text and unless you are one of those lucky enough to have permission to read it we won't let you have a copy" wouldn't it be better to accommodate people along the lines of "Here's this amazing text and if you have had the good fortune to receive the necessary prerequisites then we're happy to share it with you. But if you haven't gotten the lung or empowerment please see the schedule below for when you can receive the required transmissions either in person or online. Or please contact us if you or your Dharma centre or group would like to host an empowerment etc."? Wouldn't that be more in line with the bodhisattva vow to help all beings attain realization? Not to mention create a far more positive environment and good will between people?
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby Anders » Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:12 am

Malcolm wrote:
practitioner wrote:
Osho wrote:Pathetic.
Truly pathetic.


I'd disagree, a translator using their time and expertise to give those who can't read Tibetan access to this text is hardly pathetic. Any restrictions are on the advice of their teacher, hardly a sound marketing strategy...


The point is these these books are freely available to people like me, translators, without any restrictions at all. So making the English translations restricted is just a kind of elitism.

M


Maybe those lamas aren't thrilled with the TIbetan situation either and reckon that at least in English, it can be 'done right'...
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby Karma Dorje » Mon Jul 28, 2014 1:41 pm

Anders wrote:Maybe those lamas aren't thrilled with the TIbetan situation either and reckon that at least in English, it can be 'done right'...


The reality is that Tibetans are not exactly queuing up to practice seriously according to the tradition, preferring to queue for the latest iPhone. If these teachings are not promulgated to all who have an interest, they will likely die out altogether in a few generations. This is what makes 84000 so important. Without putting the teachings into the lingua Franca of our times they likely won't survive. It seems to me that the idea of these restrictions come out of the hoop jumping approach that Trungpa Rinpoche encouraged, which is hardly surprising to see at Shambala.
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby conebeckham » Mon Jul 28, 2014 1:53 pm

The whole discussion is somewhat moot, though, as the book will soon be available at Scribd, and file sharing sites, etc., shortly after publication...just like most of the "restricted" translations of the past.
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Re: Zabmo Nangdon to be published by Shambhala

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jul 28, 2014 3:29 pm

Anders wrote:
Maybe those lamas aren't thrilled with the TIbetan situation either and reckon that at least in English, it can be 'done right'...


The reason why these books are available in Tibetan is because the Tibetan Buddhist Lineage Heads want these books out there so that they won't die. Every book on TBRC has a database entry through which any text can be restricted by tradition of they so choose. There are many books on TBRC that in fact are restricted by tradition.

When Tibetan lineages send books to TBRC they do so knowing full well that they are openly making these texts available.

Now, Sherapa has brought up the point of samaya — and this is a valid point. If you are a practitioner, and take lineage seriously, it is better to get permission to read this or that text if you are interested in it. This is the proper approach. On the other hand, a text like Zabmo Nangdon is a general text on tantric anatomy, so in fact anyone who has received HYT empowerment is qualified to read it.

Even then, the Shambhala "restriction" pages are kind of ludicrous because anyone can just lie if they want to get the book.
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