Robert Thurman fails the Western Shugden Society Challenge

An open letter to Robert Thurman from the Western Shugden Society challenged the famous Buddhist academic and author to provide evidence of his claims that:

  1. Shugden people are sectarian, “the Buddhist Taliban”
  2. The Western Shugden Society is working for the Chinese.

The deadline for Robert Thurman to show this evidence was 25 October 2008. He has failed to do this.

I have no idea if there will be legal consequences of this failure, but certainly we can consider the statement at the end of their letter:

If your evidence does not appear by this date then we will conclude that you have lied publicly and are misleading people.

As Thurman says in his book Why the Dalai Lama Matters, Buddhism is very scientific.  If there is evidence to support a particular point of view, and that evidence is not contradicted or superceded by something more valid,  then one has to accept the evidence and to assert the particular point of view that is supported by the evidence.

In ancient India, religious practitioners used to engage in major philosophical public debates.  If someone lost the debate because they could not support their view with valid reasons, they and all their followers would convert to the view of the victor because there was no reason for them to continue to hold their wrong view.  Any one who continued to hold their view, even though it was discredited, would be judged as ‘unreasonable’.

Thurman has not provided any evidence for his view, therefore his claims are deceptive and unreasonable.  If supporting evidence existed, wouldn’t he have been able to provide it?  We can therefore say that Thurman has lied and is misleading people.

This is a very sad for someone who is held in high regard as an academic.  He has a responsibility to speak the truth.

Thurman’s books are actually full of exaggerations, as are pointed out in an ongoing series of articles refuting his claims in Why the Dalai Lama Matters:

A critique of Why the Dalai Lama Matters Part 1

A critique of Why the Dalai Lama Matters Part 2


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