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.
It’s important for spiritual communities 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 spiritual teachers and their communities squarely face the truth, will the Dharma be properly valued and honored in the West.
From a Dharmic 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 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. Buddhist 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 Tibetan Buddhism and Zen Buddhism, 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.
TRICYCLE MAGAZINE AFRAID TO LOSE READERS AND MONEY
I’ve done therapy with people badly damaged in spiritual communities. Damaged by spiritual teachers and their “inner circle” proxies.
In 2010, Tricycle, a leading Buddhist publication, hired me to write an article about spiritual teachers. Focused in part on the Shambhala community. Tricycle killed the article, for a fee.
Because it was too threatening to its advertisers and readers.
If it was published, the Shambhala organization might have faced and remedied its many years of sexual abuse problems. And been more successful in helping transplant sacred teachings in the west.
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.