Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cease and Desist Spreading Our Dhamma

Got a letter this morning:

Dear Venerable,

John Bullit of Access to Insight wrote to me that you have unlocked the Path of Purification and put it online in different formats. This file was only to be distributed by Access to Insight and the BPS. We put years of work into this. Please take it off line or we will take action against you.

Bhikkhu Nyanatusita
Buddhist Publication Society

Compare with:

32. 'What, then, Ânanda? Does the order expect that of me? I have preached the truth without making any distinction between exoteric and esoteric doctrine: for in respect of the truths, Ânanda, the Tathâgata has no such thing as the closed fist of a teacher, who keeps some things back. Surely, Ânanda, should there be any one who harbours the thought, "It is I who will lead the brotherhood," or, "The order is dependent upon me," it is he who should lay down instructions in any matter concerning the order. Now the Tathâgata, Ânanda, thinks not that it is he who should lead the brotherhood, or that the order is dependent upon him. Why then should he leave instructions in any matter concerning the order?

-- D. 16, Mahaparinibbana Sutta (source)


If you hold yourself dear
then don't fetter yourself with evil,
for happiness isn't easily gained
by one who commits a wrong-doing.

When seized by the End-maker
as you abandon the human state,
what's truly your own?
What do you take along when you go?

What follows behind you like a shadow that never leaves?
Both the merit & evil that you as a mortal perform here:
that's what's truly your own, what you take along when you go;
that's what follows behind you like a shadow that never leaves.

So do what is admirable,
as an accumulation for the future life.
Deeds of merit are the support for beings
when they arise in the other world.

- S. 3.4, Piya Sutta (source)

It's amazing to me that Buddhists can talk about "taking action" against other Buddhists for spreading the dhamma, even worse, talk about it as though it were their own work.

Here is the BPS's copyright notice as found in the work in question. Please, can someone tell me what part of it has been violated?

Copyright: Copyright © 2011 Buddhist Publication Society.
You may redistribute this file provided that: (1) you must only make such cop-
ies available free of charge; (2) you clearly indicate that any parts of this work
reproduced into other publications are derived from this source document; and
(3) you include the full text of this license in any copies of this work. Otherwise,
all rights reserved.

My physical well-being, it seems, may depend on my receiving an answer.


  1. It is amazing. Even if they do not want to adhere to "supposedly" their own teaching in that book (let's say they "own" those sutras you reproduced in "some" way), they should at least be not-so-confused about their own copy right as well. They are able to ignore both at the same time??

  2. This is sad. You appear not to have violated anything legally. Take action? Forgive me, but you are homeless, except for the kuti which is not owned by you, and have no discernible income, and accept food as a gift. What action would one Theravadin group take against another? Hmmm.

  3. David Jackson10:37 AM

    Yuttadhammo, I would say that it is clear that you have not violated their copyright. However, do not other copies of this work exist? Perhaps you could use one of those?

    It is better to err on the side of "not being sued", although what they would get from a penniless monk is beyond me.

  4. Luke d10:45 AM

    It seems to me that you met all of their conditions they required for distributing that publication. Whenever I first encounter a new Buddhist teacher or organization I always try to determine which is the guiding factor in their actions: trying to spread the Dharma or making money. I thank you for continuing to spread the Dharma and helping people who may not have access to a Sangha, all without expecting anything in return. Palms together and a bow to you.

  5. Bhante, this was on the Internet. Perhaps you are aware, but head's up. I did not think you had been sued.

  6. Tamiko Onodera2:34 PM

    I was saddened to read about how you have been chastised by this group of people. It is typical of this modern age to threaten to sue a humble monk who is truly devoted his whole life to spread the teachings of the Buddha to all beings. It is very unfortunate but reflects the dysfunction that exists in the Buddhist sanga, especially in the Western world. I have never heard of Chinese people threaten someone who translated Buddha's teachings into Chinese for libel for example. I think this is a particularly Western kind of reaction to other Western Buddhists. This kind of attitude does not exist in Asia, e.g. Thailand, Japan. Did the people who practice Zen accuse the translators of the Zen masters's writing and poems threaten to sue the translators? I hope you ignore these people and continue on in your wonderful work of opening Buddha's teaching to the world wide web. Never give up.

  7. Tamiko Onodera2:38 PM

    Regarding the legal threats, I am sure you will find an attorney to defend you if necessary. Do not worry. There are many people who support and trust you.

  8. Oh well, it is what it is. Am going to use a John Lennon quote from your page. Please don't take action against me.

  9. Dear Yuttadhammo

    what kind of "action" is he talking about??? Mr. Bhikkhu Nyanatusita should be more clear when an e-mail like this goes out, is he going to "take action" against me too?, I downloaded , read and intended to keep reading the Path of Purification... really sad.

    but as always thank you for all your teaching!!!