Half Staff for the Undead MCTB2

One year has now passed since Daniel Ingram and I suffered the falling out that officially ended my collaboration with him on the expansion, revision, and editing of the second edition of Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book. We finished approximate 350 manuscript pages in the 10 months that we were comrades in this effort. We had about 150 more at the time, and multiple times I tried to patch things up with him to finish, even offering to do a pass without communication and simply deliver it to him — free PhD-level work in my off hours. All offers were met with hard refusal.

Yesterday I sent Daniel a short note (well, short for me). In it I again appealed to him to be pragmatic, agree to an editorial acknowledgment for the more than 800 unpaid afterhours I devoted to that work, and I would surrender my joint copyright to him. I periodically send him such notes. He never replies, but I know he reads them. I keep offering him an opening out of his own mess. But he doesn’t see the way out. He is imprisoned by his own device. The way out is so easy and clear, but it takes a step. I cannot take that step; he has to. I have no qualms about opening myself to rejection or other vulnerability by repeatedly asking him to reconsider the situation. And I’m not doing so because I have anything to gain. 

I’ve conceded and conceded and conceded until all that is left for me is an editorial acknowledgment on a page few will look at or read. I was promised cover credit and a signed Editor’s Introduction. He withdrew both while taking my 350 pages of work. His attorney offered me $10,000 to give up copyright and all acknowledgment whatsoever for the work I did. I was supposed to agree to let Daniel take full credit for all the work as if it were his alone.

This is the rub. I have my copies of all iterations of 13 chapters, with tracked changes. Conservatively, 90 percent of the tracked changes are mine. I revised the structure of the book radically, wrote as well as elicited from Daniel entirely new passages, rewrote nearly every sentence while maintaining his unique voice, designed many tables for the book, suggested and helped shape brand new chapters, and on and on. I did so while I was rapidly awakening as an MCTB practitioner and with Daniel’s direct mentoring. That work represents, therefore, integration that is mine. It is not Daniel’s alone, and it is wrong for him to hold himself out to the public, and to those who come to him for practice advice, as the source of that integration.

The fight of a year ago was itself over dishonesty, over his reply to me when I confronted him with his dishonestly about his role in the Actual Freedom (AF) experiments. You see, in the draft of MCTB2 that I read, Daniel makes his friends of the AF era into fools, into a cautionary tale about the dark side of trying to get rid of emotions and replace them with ideal feelings of harmlessness and felicity. His personal history chapter also conveniently skips his taking any part in the AF experiments and holds that he attained arahatship in 2002, something contradicted by his own old audios still posted out on his personal site. I asked him to come clean in MCTB2 about his role and motives during the AF era. He wrote me back a very harsh letter that condemned me as narrow-minded. This was a day or two before my first retreat with my new teacher.

There is more fuel beneath the fire, but let’s stop there. The point is that, as I stated months ago, Daniel is being made honest. I just received another of many, many acknowledgments Thursday from another author. I am totally “over” editorial acknowledgments, folks, except for delighting in the generosity and virtue of those who write them. I feel good; they feel good. I think the corporate-speak for this situation is win-win. All right. But this isn’t an Eight Worldly Dharmas clinging for me. That is not what this situation with Daniel is about. I need nothing in this situation for myself.

It costs Daniel nothing to tell the the simple truth of my contributions to MCTB2. He had agreed to much more. He doesn’t have to thank me; he doesn’t have to like me. But I’ve conceded all I think I should and then some. I draw and stand by the line here, where he means to pass off all that work as his own. Any further concession on my part would positively reinforce his dishonesty with himself. It would be plain wrong. It would not be the lesson he needs to take to heart at this time.

Daniel wrote me back December that he would never be friends with me ever again, that my work on the book would never see the light of day, and he would therefore never give me an editorial acknowledgment. In that letter he tried to downplay that he even liked my work. He said I was a stalker, and he compared me to a rapist. 

This man was my friend and my first and most important spiritual mentor and benefactor.

Although Daniel stated that he had already destroyed my work, he hired a lawyer to buy off the work so he could present it to the world solely as his own. He wrote to the U.S. Copyright Office that I was just a “disgruntled editor obviously trying to steal [his] work.” He also wrote on his counterclaim that the work was solely his own. That is very, very far from true. It is almost incomprehensible to me the extent of this dishonestly, particularly since I can easily prove otherwise.

Kindness is not always “niceness.” Turning the cheek is not always the skillful response in a conflict that has escalated to this extreme: 

  • The fact is that I did that work. 
  • The fact is that it far exceeds the federal legal threshold for co-authorship. 
  • The fact is that I hold in my hand the registered copyright certificate with his name and mine on it, and it is valid. 
  • The fact is that he offered $10,000 to me for the work, which means he values it. 

May we both heal all past trauma, know the perfection of compassionate response, and attain Buddhahood for the sake of all others in this wondrously, if sometimes bewilderingly and tragically, interconnected field of humanity

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