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December 27, 2006

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Good job here Brian.

I strongly encourage you to write to the Dera and tell them what you have discovered.

When I found out that the small booklet Helpful Hints on Meditation (or was it Notes on Meditation) by Sawan Singh that was widely distributed here in the USA in 1980s for free...... was actually plagiarized from Rai Salig Ram's JUGAT PRAKASH..... the Dera immediately had the booklet pulled from the varying satsangs and said it did not approve its printing, etc.

I think if Beas still has any ounce of integrity they would pull the book or issue some kind of apology/declaration.

Keep us informed if you find anything else.

Brian, here is a time stamped link from google groups that mentions, albeit briefly, another small Beas publication that was appropriated from the work of another.... though in this case I don't think it was intentional..... I think they conflated names.

http://tinyurl.com/ye7xfv

Excellent job. I can see why you remembered the passage, no matter who wrote it, it resontates with me.

Wonderful that this post coincides with an impromptu lecture series my dear husband and I have been engaged in with our teenaged son loosely entitled "why integrity matters".

Last evening the topic of "truthfulness" -esp re:answering truthfully about homework and projects due or soon-to-be-due- and the ancillary "what happens when we lie" lecture on consequences followed.

We lie and people doubt everything about us. We lie -even a little bit- and it becomes necessary to have an internal world where the truth resides and an external world where our fabrications live. We lie and everything we say and do becomes suspect. We lie and we have no means of livelihood because the world beyond us assumes we are irresponsible or deceptive. We lie and the good that we do is obscured by the lies we have told, no matter how few they are our lies loom so large that others become blind to the vast good that we have accomplished.

Being old enough to marry, our son thought the consequence portion of this lecture was exaggerated. Thank goodness that your post was here this morning, demonstrating to him that indeed, one stupid lie -even a lie of omission- can absolutely negate an entire lifetime of work.

JH

Of course integrity and honesty are vitally important and we should all strive to embody such virtues. But why such "ah ha!, I caught you!" pleasure in discovering another's lack? Are we so innocent and perfect ourselves?

Pam, good questions. They ran through my own mind also last night, as I became aware of how enthusiastic I felt working on my expose post.

No, speaking for myself I'm far from being innocent or perfect. But here's the thing: I don't claim to be.

It's hypocrisy and holier-than-thou-ness that bothers me the most here. The preface to Puri's book (written by the RSSB Secretary) says:

"He [Puri] has made a lifelong study of the teachings of the saints, and has a deep and penetrating insight into the essence of their teachings."

Well, that insight obviously didn't include "thou shalt not steal." Words or things. If the tone of this book had been "we're all struggling souls and I'm still searching for the truth, along with everyone else," I would have been a bit less critical.

In fact, Puri writes "Guru Nanak is unambiguous in his condemnation of those who lead a hypocritical life. In the true seeker there should be conformity between his speech and his thoughts, and between his thoughts and his deeds."

I seriously doubt that during Puri's lengthy academic career as a philosophy professor he taught his students to plagiarize. Yet he did so himself. That's hypocrisy.

I'll also readily admit that my zeal flows in part from my own frustrating experiences writing books under the auspices of RSSB. I encountered a similar sort of disconnect between elevated spiritual talk and all too human egotistical selfish action.

Some of the energy of the still-existent frustration probably flowed through my typing fingers last night.

Lastly, as a writer I know how difficult it can be to say something well. I've written passages that went through dozens of drafts. (don't do this with blogging, obviously, but books are different)

So I have a big problem with people stealing others' hard fought for words without attribution. This quotation is nicely said. It might have flowed from Stace, and it might have taken much work to get down in its present form.

Regardless, these are Stace's words, not Puri's. I think I'd feel better about Puri's action if he had simply copied verbatim Stace's passage. But instead he changed it around just enough to make it his own.

This reveals a conscious intent, rather than a forgetting to add quotation remarks and a citation.

Pam, I doubt Brian feels he is the paragon of virtue. However, RSSB does claim this status of the highest moral ground for it's teachings and it's masters. Hence the big "ah ha!". In observing RSSB there are many things to go "ah ha" about, but these are often ignored by the rational minds of highly conditioned adherents.

Dear Brian,

Sometimes I make literary allusions without specific attribution too - but never so blatently as your cited example. Years ago I found plagerism in Garner Ted Armstrong's book _The Real Jesus_. He co-opted (without acknowledgment) a student's work that had appeared in a church magazine. Such a phenomenon (of ethical disregard) is - I regret to say - quite widespread. Cf. Rom 3:23.

Robert Paul Howard

I agree that J.R. Puri is a hypocrite and I believe he would agree also. As we all are hypocrites. Is there any place in the publication in which Mr. Puri proclaims himself to be holy? It seems as if he made a terrible mistake and will be humiliated by it. Does this error he made really diminish the message of the book about Guru Nanak? Does his all- too-human failing really have anything to do with anything important?

Pam,

It's not about professing to be "holy".

Moreover, if Puri was really such an erudite exponent and practitioner of the teachings and ethics of Sant mat and Radha Soami mat as he was supposed to have been, then he would not have had any need to intentionally plagerise.

His "human failing" as you excuse it, is important as it reflects badly upon Sant mat as well as the RSSB.

If the authorized writers of RSSB books cannot simply be honest, then the RSSB is not what it claims to be or stand for.

Talk about hyocrisy, I find it hypocritical when Sant Mat apologists like yourself attempting to dismiss and deny such obvious ethical errors.

True it is straight plagiarism and i fully agree with David's remarks. I read that passage from Puri's "Guru Nanak" and i was impressed by his style of writting at the time . Truth must be said though, most of RSSB books are very correct on their citations, which come from books from various religions, sects etc.
Also; There are books which the author doesnt really make a "exposition" per se, but rather gathers several quotations from several sources and arranges them in a sequential 'coherent' fashion , adding a hermeneutic description between the quotations. Thus attempting to push forward his arguement (shabd/guru/meditation) by saying that it is not him who says it , or rather it is not ONLY him who says it but also all these other mystics he quotes as well. This is in fact the methodological frame which books such the "philosophy of the masters I-V" are based on. Im not attemping to excuse this plagiarisation.
What i am saying is that RSSB's philosophy is based on the point that they claim they are not presenting something new to the world. And this is evident in their books through hundreds and hundreds of citations. So yeah Puri plagiarised. David is right. They they should withdraw it, (input the citation at least) and apologise on the preface of the 'new' version. But a generalisation that RSSB consiously plagiarised it, for me, who i am as you very critical of the organisation, kind of falls short.---for the time being. In conclusion it was excellent that u exposed this.

Now regarding the following posts.
What i cannot stand is generalisations. RSSB is so and so...or all satsangies are so and so...all christians are so and so... the US is so and so , Europe is so and so , muslims are so and so. This is not different from racism, ego/ethno-centrism etc. In dealing with 'groups' of ppl...i think subtlety and non extreme statements are required. If u ask me, there are as many types of christians as the number of christians themselves, and there are as many type of satsangies as there are satsangies. I havent found two satsangies yet(or two christians or two muslims for that matter) who share similar or close to similar concepts regarding what santmat is.Especially if u ask deep questions whose answer can be interpeted differently by different ppl. In a similar way we are all different here , even though someone could lable us all in a category with a title such as "skeptics" "agnostics" or whatever else..."church of the churcles ppl".

to end:
Stacey's passage, points towards something and that something is of the ONLY true importance

On page 58 of Guru Nanak, J.R. Puri writes:
"Philosophers generally distinguish between two main types of mystical experience: This is the view both of Walter Stace and Rudolf Otto, for instance, as expressed in their books, Mysticism and Philosophy and Mysticism East and West. They are called 'extrovertive mystical experience' and 'introvertive mystical experience' and both of these varieties..."
Puri then provides a description of both types with paraphrasing of Stace's Introvertive mysticism (as quoted in the above) on page 59. He further mentions Stace on page 60 and 61 and footnotes a direct quote from Stace on page 67 as number 8 (W.T.Stace Mysticism and Philosophy, p.329) on page 462.

Brian,
In light of Herb's expose of your stupidity on this matter, are you going to publicy apologize for calling Mr. Puri a plagiarist?

Brian,
Can you confirm what herb has written above? If this is indeed true, you need to publicly apologize for defamation and mention this prominently on your post instead of this being in comments.
Regards

It does not look to me like the quoted passage from Puri was paraphrasing Stace's writing. He did not restate the meaning in his own words as much as lift multiple paragraphs changing wording here and there. The correct thing to do would have been to either include the passage as a direct quote or to truly paraphrase. I don't have the Puri book, so I don't know if these paragraphs were presented as a direct quotation. If they were, then what accounts for some of the words being different?

H.K., exactly. I stand by my accusation of plagiarism. No apology. I will admit, though, that I neglected to read the pages before and after the plagiarism.

I was focused on whether Puri credited Stace for the stolen passage from "Mysticism and Philosophy." He didn't, so that's plagiarism. What Puri did is change a few words around that Stace had written and pass them off as his own.

Herb and Dennis, are you really trying to say that a long-time college professor doesn't know that quotations are supposed to have quotations marks around them? And, credit given to the author.

And that Puri didn't know that a "paraphrase" can't be accomplished by changing a couple of words in a lengthy quotation?

Give me a break. Puri quoted Stace correctly on page 67: with quotation marks and a footnote. He didn't on page 59. This tells me that Puri consciously plagiarized the passage I'm calling him on, because he obviously was able to properly quote a short passage from Stace's book.

As a further nitpick, I note that Stace's book isn't included in the Selected Bibliography. It's poor scholarship not to include a book in the bibliography that has been quoted from.

Maybe "Selected" means, we didn't include books that we plagiarized.

My final comment on your comments is this: it's fine to be loyal to a religious organization such as RSSB. But it isn't fine, in my opinion, to put on blinders and not be able to see obvious mis-steps.

I don't consider that mentioning Stace's book on page 58, and then plagiarizing him on page 59, without any indication that his words (with a few extremely minor changes) are being passed off as Puri's, excuses the RSSB Publication Department or Puri.

You might feel otherwise. Why don't you consult some journalism or English professors and let me know whether they think page 59 is an act of plagiarism?

I know a local English professor at Willamette University (a fellow Tai Chi student) and will try to talk to him next week. Until then, and probably after then, I stand by my post.

Comment update: After posting the above I decided to check some online resources. Here's what the Indiana University Writing Program has to say about plagiarism. Their "How to Recognize Unacceptable and Acceptable Paraphrases" makes my point perfectly.

Puri is a plagiarist. Case closed. He's convicted. See:
http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/pamphlets/plagiarism.shtml

You said it-your a "nitpicker"-squirm like a worm all you want to-he mentioned the book before the passages and clearly meant no plagiarism. Your pathetic

Dennis, you still don't get it. Did you even look at the Indian University web page? It says that a passage has been plagiarized if:

--the writer has only changed around a few words and phrases, or changed the order of the original’s sentences.

--the writer has failed to cite a source for any of the ideas or facts.

Puri is guilty of both acts. In my "God's Whisper, Creation's Thunder" book, page 156, I quote this passage in Puri's "Guru Nanak." I cite Puri as the author, because that's how he made it appear.

Nowhere does he say, or even imply, that Stace is the source of those words. If my scanner can handle a thick book I'll try to add a scan of the two pages in question so people can directly see the plagiarized passage and the non-associated mention of Stace.

[comment update: I was able to do this. See end of the original post for the scan and some additional observations.]

Dennis, try to look at this in a more detached and objective fashion. The emotions evident in your comment ("worm," "pathetic") are preventing you from seeing reality.

That's precisely what Stace, Eckhart, and Forman are pointing toward: how the pre-existent contents of a person's mind prevents him or her from perceiving freshly.

Brian: Could this have been a publication/proofreading oversight that continued through various editions? There are many RSB books and(as you know) the publication's department is not perfect.

LB, what kind of oversight are you hypothesizing? This isn't just a matter of missing quotation marks, or a footnote. Stace's passage was consciously changed slightly, so it wasn't a matter of including a direct quotation that failed to get a citation.

Given the plagiarism standards in the Indiana University web page I pointed out, I don't see any way this isn't plagiarism (as opposed to an oversight).

I mean, a quotation has to be exact. A paraphrase has to be in one's own words, with credit given to the original author. In this case, the "paraphrase" involved just changing a few words around. Plus, no credit was given.

So even if Puri had credited Stace at the beginning of the passage he "paraphrased," this still wouldn't be acceptable, because his "quotation" was altered without informing the reader.

Brian, I invite you to think clearly and logically. If Puri wanted to plagiarise then why would he mention Stace just before quoting/paraphrasing his paragraph. Coming from a scholar like you, this gunshot approach of publishing and abusing another scholar " read your own post", without proper research is very sad. First of all you did not explore what was written before the paraphrase or the rest of Puri's book. Secondly, have you considered and ruled out the possibility that the text in earlier editions of Stace's book is closer to Puri's text.

I guess it is ok to be critical of RSSB on valid points but the bitterness and glee in you post is very saddening.

Would you have posted this sensationalist post if you were aware of Puri mentioning him just before the quote and elsewhere?

Your argument at this point is merely nitpicking and technical.

Andy, yes, I would have written the post just as I did even if I'd read the pages before and after.

As I've already commented, plagiarism isn't excused by mentioning the author's name on a previous page, along with someone else's name.

Earth to Andy: a properly cited quotation has quotation marks or is indented; the name of the person being quoted; and isn't altered [your own words should be in brackets].

This isn't "nitpicking and technical." It's part and parcel of civilized writing and scholarship. The Chicago Manual of Style quotes Jacques Barzun and Henry F. Graff at 11.2:

"Quoting other writers and citing the places where their words are to be found are by now such common practices that it is pardonable to look upon the habit as natural, not to say instinctive.

"It is of course nothing of the kind, but a very sophisticated act, peculiar to a civilization that uses printed books, believes in evidence, and makes a point of assigning credit or blame in a detailed, verifiable way."

So this seemingly small literary mis-step actually points to something much larger. Those who excuse Puri's appropriation of Stace's words as his own also appear to be saying, "Don't hold a religious book to high standards; don't believe in evidence or verifiable assertions."

I'll probably muse more about this in a post tonight. I appreciate your commenting on my own comments, because the dance between us is what's most interesting about this plagiarism issue.

Each of us sees things differently. What appears so obvious and clear at first turns out to be murky and uncertain. And we're just looking at two pages from one religious book.

Don't you think there is a lesson here? Be skeptical of what you read, especially when it is presented as the gospel truth.

Thank you Brian. I see your point.

Happy New Year, all.

Not to try and excuse plagiarism, (I have been an English Composition teacher at a Community College from time to time) but for my own two cents worth, this could be an "India thing."

In his book, ALL ABOUT HINDUISM, I recall even the illustrious Swami Shivananda of Rishikesh copied entire sections from Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

For what it's worth.
Todd

Todd, in one of the plagiarism web sites I perused, your point was echoed. Students were cautioned that in some cultures, copying without attribution is no big deal. But in our culture, it is.

Thanks for saying, "not to try and excuse plagiarism." In this Guru Nanak book case, it's evident that the standard was "western" scholarship. There's footnotes, bibliography, all that. Plus, the author was a professor.

In the book you mention, it sounds like the standard was different.

I think you're right. It was a different standard,but I remember when I noticed it in Swami Shivananda's book, it bothered me then.

Another issue...Art Vs Science,

But I'm probably shifting the discussion to a different level.beyond western ethics.
(ps.I read stace's book,,, excellent, as he was an excellent scholar).

Q.
What authority did he have to write what he wrote? Did Stace ever experienced the mystical states he writes about? We don't know, we can never know. Did he even attempt to experience them? or was he, like many of us, the donkey loaded with books that he describes in his opening paragraph. Surely he was an 'empirist' philosopher...

He sais: `To ask for a proof of the existence of God is on a par with asking for a proof of the existence of beauty. If God does not lie at the end of any telescope, neither does he lie at the end of any syllogism. . . .'''

You question plagiarism, I question authority in writting about mysticism. We dont know if Stace was a mystic, or attempted to experience 'mystical states'. We do know he expounded on the subject rather eloquently. If he never experienced what he wrote, it means firstly that he wrote what he wrote, by gathering information by the writtings of 1. mystics themselves and 2. by people like himself (philosophers/non mystics) who write ABout mysticism.
If I write about psychadelic drug use, and write beuatifuly on the subject, i still know far less on the subject by anyone on the planet who tried psych.drugs. Actually i know nothing Of the subject, rather I know about the subject. If i write about China, and devote my entire time in collecting information about China, but never go there, i still Know far less from a person who went to China even for a day. I assume this is self-evident right?

How did Stace know about differences between extrovertive and introvertive experiences...did he experience them, or did he note down what other ppl told him?

Well, concluding. We can never know if Stace knew what he wrote, and wrote what he knew.
Brian, I have the feeling that Puri had a knowing regarding what he wrote. The intensity of this knowing we can never know either...but suffice to say, that my hunch tels me that Puri Knew a little bit at least about what he wrote.
And certainly he made active attempts to experience mystical experiences.

So whose writting have more authority?

Ander, we don't know. Why would you trust your feeling about Puri more than your feeling about Stace? They're both feelings, without evidence.

Like you said, we can't know if Stace knew what he wrote, and wrote what he knew. Ditto for Puri. Ditto for every purported mystic, saint, prophet, or guru. Ditto for you. Ditto for me. Ditto for everyone other than our own self.

Whose writing has more authority? Well, for me it's the writing that makes the most sense to me. I haven't read Stace's book, but from the excerpts I've read, I think Stace has more credibility.

As I said in my nothing is something post, Puri contradicts himself massively. Mystic realization may be mysterious, yet it shouldn't lead to confusion and duality. See:
http://hinessight.blogs.com/church_of_the_churchless/2006/12/when_nothing_is.html

I read Puri as having mystic leanings that are overshadowed by dogmatic blind adherence to Sant Mat theology. Stace appears more open and independent.

From the Preface to MYSTICISM AND PHILOSOPHY by W.T. Stace:
"I write as a philosopher, and not as a mystic. I do not profess to be an expert in any of the cultural areas of mysticism which this book discusses. I have selected in each area a limited number of those whom I take to be the greatest mystics in that area and have based my conclusions mainly on an intensive study of these."

clear as an unmudded lake...

Firstly, Radha Soami is not a religion. You have totally misunderstood the convept. It is infact a way of living.

Secondly, I am sure if you contacted Dera directly and highlighted the issue, which seems to have grabbed you with such intensity, than I am sure they will intervene.

Worry about yourself, not others.

But Harpreet, you're worrying about me. Shouldn't you be worrying about yourself rather than me, given what you said? Why is it OK for you to criticize me, but it isn't OK for me to criticize someone else?

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