On March 5, 2018 the Guardian published an article focused on sexual abuse within the long-time troubled Buddhist Community, “Shambhala International.” See: https://goo.gl/ZdvMeH.
Thankfully the heat caused by the MeToo# movement helped expose this group to the harsh truths it doesn’t want to know about itself. Sadly, it’s not the first time.
I’ve done therapy with many people badly damaged in spiritual communities. Damaged by troubled spiritual teachers and dysfunctional spiritual communities.
It’s important for communities devoted to contemplative science practice to face their failures. And to address them honestly and honorably. Doing so is in truth a gesture of deep regard for the authentic spiritual traditions.
Because only if Buddhist and other spiritual teachers and their communities squarely face the truth, will the authentic spiritual knowledge be properly valued and honored in the West.
From a genuine spiritual perspective, failures are opportunities to learn. But only if we face failures with integrity and courage. If we cloak or disclaim them, then they’ll carry an objectionable odor of deceit and hypocrisy.
Buddhism and other spiritual traditions will continue to suffer consequences as a result.
Since any spiritual tradition that claims association with Ultimate Truth, but which won’t face the ordinary truths about itself, will be rightly seen as lacking credibility and character.
An honorable spiritual community’s task is to understand and remedy its problems, with awareness.
To do that it cannot leave problems in the shadowy night. Spiritual organizations need to face sexual abuse and other problems, and there are many, in the light of clear day.
THE TRANSPLANT PROBLEM
Eastern spiritual teachings have traveled here in a form that was originally meant for another time and another place.
Though authentic, powerful and potentially life-transforming, the remarkable spiritual teachings associated with Buddhism and Sufiism, to cite just two examples, have not transplanted well in the west.
In truth, what goes on in these failed spiritual communities makes more sense from Freud’s point of view, than from Buddha’s. Spiritual practice needs to include self-knowledge about the forces at play in one’s psychology.
Otherwise meditation and contemplation become ways to bypass our problems and our darkness.
THE NEED FOR CHANGE SO CONTEMPLATIVE SCIENCE GETS THE RESPECT IT DESERVES
Contemplative since has made life-changing discoveries about how the mind functions. And about how to create and sustain a healthy mind.
But these discoveries are largely unknown. In part because of the Divine Right Monarch model. The teachings too often remain stuck in closed dysfunctional groups of people.
And so these profound teachings are not disseminated, understood and practiced, by the critical mass of people needed to create consciousness-based change.
And today it seems that we need such teachings more than ever. If we are to overcome our tendency to burn the house we live in.
Change MUST come.