A Disorganized Attachment Legacy at Shambhala: Brief Notes on Two Letters and a 1993 Interview with Pema Chödrön

On Sunday, a unknown number of unnamed “Women acharyas” released this unsigned letter. The acharyas are a group of Shambhala International leaders, empowered by their current head, Ösel Mukpo, to represent the legacy and teaching content of the organization. Their letter responds to a call for action from members outraged by revelations of continued institutional sex and power abuse in their community.

Mukpo stands accused of sexual misconduct by three anonymous women whose voices have been recorded by Andrea Winn in her Project Sunshine report. He has posted a vague admission of guilt. Winn’s work has pried opened an unhealed wound carved out by the abuses of Mukpo’s father, Chogyam Trungpa, and his lieutenants. Those stories are still coming to light, and they are unbelievably savage.

Insiders will be able to better parse out the likelihood of whether this particular political constellation of “acharyas” is equipped to understand the dynamics within which it is embedded and strong enough break out of them. I don’t pretend to have any insights on that. I hope I can, however, point out a key characteristic of crisis communication that does not bode well in the present, and which has deep and influential roots in the past.

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From the outset, the framework of the authors is flawed by the loaded language of the organization’s spiritual ideology. They write:

“The women acharyas of Shambhala are writing today to send our love and support to our community at a time of enormous groundlessness.” (emphasis added)

The term “groundlessness” here both indicates and hides the more appropriate word, which would be “betrayal”. The (non)signatories who didn’t know that Ösel Mukpo behaved like his father have been betrayed. Those who did know betrayed those who didn’t, which would mean most of the membership.

Why do the authors use the word “groundlessness”? Because the purpose of the letter, first and foremost, is to maintain the content and ideology of the group. If the writers can do that, they can then maintain interpretational authority over that content. They can still be “acharyas”. The word “groundlessness” positions what follows in the letter as a learning opportunity, but one in which the content of the abusive group will simply be recycled. “Groundlessness” is, after all, a virtuous state or realization described in Middle Way philosophy as a pathway to the wisdom of non-attachment to changing identities or phenomena.

By using it here, the letter writers conflate the trauma of having been stripped of care with the feeling of having seen into the nature of reality. This is tantamount to saying that abuse and abandonment are our natural state, or lead to it. It then follows that finding out that your leader is an abuser is actually (subtly, and with our help you will eventually understand it) a good thing, an opportunity to really put that same leader’s wisdom about “groundlessness” into practice. If that’s their interpretation of the First Noble Truth, then no thank you.

I imagine the “groundlessness” that some of the writers profess to feel here is actually a dawning realization of hypocrisy: that the organization has been talking about one thing for 40 years, and doing another.

Victims may feel stripped of care and support, but they are not “groundless”. They are the ground itself, wounded, right in front of you, under your feet. They were there all along. They don’t need to “be steady within this open space of not-knowing.” They know exactly what happened to them.

Asking the community to be “steady within this open space of not-knowing” sets victims up against members who are entrained to remain not advocate on behalf of justice.

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After this opening, the authors cite a plaintive poem from a distressed member, petitioning for restorative action. It begins with:

To the mother lineage.
Please, break the silence.
Please, approach and speak up.
Please, step up to the plate.
Please, protect the girls and women.
Please, protect the children.

Put a pin in that. Remember that members are using maternal metaphors or transferences to petition their elders.

_____

If Judith Simmer-Brown (Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies at Naropa University) and Susan Chapman are part of “the mother lineage”, and also among the (non-)signatories of this letter, their capacity to offer protection is compromised by deep conflicts.

Why? Because their names are signed to this June 30th letter to registrants for the upcoming “Scorpion Seal” empowerment (July 15-26) at the Shambhala Mountain Centre, Colorado:

_____

June 30, 2018

Dear Scorpion Seal practitioner,

Good morning! We Werma Acharyas are writing in the wake of the cascade of
disclosures from the Sakyong and the Kalapa Council and the Sunshine Report
regarding allegations of sexual abuse of power in our mandala. We are heartbroken about these, even while we recognize the health of openness, honest exchange, and strategies for change in our sangha culture.

This is all the more concerning because of the preciousness of the Scorpion Seal teachings we have received from our Sakyong, that have provided such a vision for enhancing human goodness in a setting sun world. These teachings have been so personally important for us, equipping us to work with the most difficult, intractable situations in our world. It is essential that these teachings continue and that they help us work with personal and societal obstacles that plague our lives.

You may be wondering about the Scorpion Seal Garchen at Shambhala Mountain
Center, what to expect, how you feel, maybe even whether to come. We can assure you that we will address the current crisis in Shambhala, sharing our personal responses and deeply listening to each other’s. Rather than retreating to a bubble that pretends nothing has happened, we plan to relate with this painful news in the context of our many practices including Shambhala Meditation and the Inner White Lotus practice of working with the dons, as well as the new practices for your particular Assembly. And we look forward to being with our Scorpion Seal sisters and brothers. We see this as an opportunity to create a fresh karmic stream for our community, going into the future.

We have supplicated the Sakyong to be at Shambhala Mountain Center with us, but we honestly don’t know what he will do. Rest assured, we Werma Acharyas will be giving all the transmissions in the event he is not there.

Please join us with your heartbreak, your doubts, your confidence, and your love of the Shambhala community and teaching, and your connection with our Sakyong. It promises to be a deep and authentic experience.

In the Great Eastern Sun,

Ashe Acharya John Rockwell
Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown
Acharya Michael Greenleaf
Acharya Susan Chapman*

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“The Scorpion Seal” is a “terma” or a teaching that was mystically “found” by Chogyam Trungpa in 1980 or 1981, according to Shambhala’s narrative. But according to retreat leader John Rockwell the content “was rather secret, a bit ahead of our times.” It fell to Trungpa’s son, Osel Mukpo, to “open” it, and reveal the “Werma” or ritual practices it reputedly contained.

Whether you find this plausible or not (beliefs are like intentions here: far less important than impacts), two things are important to know.

  1. This upcoming empowerment/training, with lodging, costs approximately 2000USD to attend. A source forwarded me an email from Shambhala Mountain that stated that there were “well over 200” registrants. This means that this single event could gross up to 400,000 USD.
  2. If the empowerment follows the typical pattern of Shambhala-appropriated Tantric ritual, it will ask participants to make vows of allegiance to the community, the teachings, and perhaps even to the acharyas and Mukpo himself. The vows will have both emotional and financial impacts. There are several “levels” of entrainment into the “Scorpion Seal”, which, let’s remember, was “discovered” by an abusive spiritual leader well on his way to dying of terminal alcoholism.

So what shall it be, acharyas?

  1. Listening in “groundlessness” and “not-knowing”? Or
  2. Selling empowerments to mystical teachings you assert come from the etheric realms?

The answer, if we’re willing to look at this landscape through the lens that Alexandra Stein provides on the attachment patterning that drives cult organizations, is that the acharyas must offer both things at once.

Uncertainty and certainty. Listening and telling. Care and demand. Support and dependency. These are domesticated versions of the most dangerous dyad: the confusion of love with terror at the heart of every high-demand group.

In her riveting addition to cult analysis literature, Stein argues that the primary task that a high-demand group must accomplish in relation to recruits is to take their existing attachment patterning — instilled through familial and intimate conditioning — and, through a “groundless” alternation of love and fear, convert it into a “disorganized” state. There’s a huge literature on this; I’ll let Stein summarize the basics here:

[Disorganized attachment] responses occur when a child has been in a situation of fright without solution. Their caregiver is at once the safe haven and also the source of threat or alarm. So, when the child feels threatened by the caregiver, he or she is caught in an impossible situation: both comfort and threat are represented by the same person –the caregiver. The child experiences the unresolvable paradox of seeking to simultaneously flee from and approach the caregiver. This happens at a biological level, not thought out or conscious, but as evolved behavior to fear. The child attempts to run TO and flee FROM the caregiver at one and the same time… However, in most cases the need for proximity – for physical closeness – tends to override attempts to avoid the fear-arousing caregiver. So usually the child stays close to the frightening parent while internally both their withdrawal and approach systems are simultaneously activated, and in conflict. – Stein, loc 894-903

Now compare the two statements from the acaryas. The “mother lineage” is functioning to both comfort and make further demands. Simultaneously. Stein suggests that such a gambit is not a contradiction, but a feature of the continuously-charged feedback loop of caregiver betrayal that lies at the root of disorganized attachment. This charge will be heightened in environments of physical, sexual, financial or moral abuse.

With Shambhala International, this feedback loop is not new. There will be many examples to point to, but the one that’s fairly well-known and shows the intergenerational continuity of disorganized attachment is this 1993 interview of Pema Chödrön in Tricycle Magazine.

To be fair, this interview is now twenty-five years old, and comes from another era. However, I’m not aware of any widely-available update to these sentiments. Between 1993 and the present, of course, Chödrön has become an international spiritual celebrity. She remains listed amongst the current cohort of acharyas.

 

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Tricycle: Would you say that the intention behind this unconventional behavior, including his sexual exploits and his drinking, was to help others?

Pema Chödrön: As the years went on, I felt everything he did was to help others. But I would also say now that maybe my understanding has gone even deeper, and it feels more to the point to say I don’t know. I don’t know what he was doing. I know he changed my life. I know I love him. But I don’t know who he was. And maybe he wasn’t doing things to help everyone, but he sure helped me. I learned something from him. But who was that masked man?

Tricycle: In recent years women have become more articulate about sexism. And we know more today about the prevalence of child abuse and about how many people come into dharma really hurting. If you knew ten years ago what you know today, would you have been so optimistic about Trungpa Rinpoche and his sexuality? Would you have wanted some of the women you’ve been working with to study with him, given their histories of sexual abuse?

Pema Chödrön: I would have said, You know he loves women, he’s very passionate, and has a lot of relationships with women, and that might be part of it if you get involved with him, and you should read all his books, go to all his talks, and actually see if you can get close to him. And you should do that knowing you might get an invitation to sleep with him, so don’t be naive about that, and don’t think you have to do it, or don’t have to do it. But you have to decide for yourself who you think this guy is.

Tricycle: Were there women who turned down his sexual invitations and maintained close relationships as students? Was that an option?

Pema Chödrön: Yes. Definitely. The other students were often the ones who made people feel like they were square and uptight if they didn’t want to sleep with Rinpoche, but Rinpoche’s teaching was to throw out the party line. However, we’re always up against human nature. The teacher says something, then everybody does it. There was a time when he smoked cigarettes and everybody started smoking. Then he stopped and they stopped and it was ridiculous. But we’re just people with human habitual patterns, and you can count on the fact that the students are going to make everything into a party line, and we did. The one predictable thing about him was that he would continually pull the rug out no matter what. That’s how he was.

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There’s too much here to unpack outside of a book-length study. You can probably see the pattern, though. Chödrön employs many of the self-oriented defences I’ve listed here while showing just how powerfully Buddhist rhetoric can be mobilized to evade personal responsibility. It is also a textbook example of I-got-mine-ism.

Chödrön privileges the genius of the abuser over the time, agency, and self-direction of his prospective female student in an equally sophisticated way. The prospective student is supposed to “decide for yourself who you think this guy is”. This is after Chödrön has admitted to his sexual misconduct, as if the “groundlessness” of his teaching puts the actions of the “masked man” in doubt. Women are supposed to invest time and emotional labour in him before understanding his nature, even after Chödrön admits that he abuses power. Intentionally or not, this stunning paragraph manages to both hide and spiritualize an induction into disorganized attachment. Trungpa was brilliant, she suggests — as if this were a sign of care — because “he would continually pull the rug out no matter what.”

Chödrön’s life-long message, inspired by and inspiring Shambhala’s content generally, is about finding rest and space and security “When Things Fall Apart”. We now have to wonder whether this message has as much to do with Buddhism as it does with creating a poetic strategy for metabolizing an abusive relationship that presented itself as loving, and doing so in order for it to continue, and eventually be commodified.

The cultural impact of Chödrön’s views can only be imagined. Never mind that Tricycle thought that this was a reasonable thing to publish. How many people have been influenced by this doublespeak through contact with Chödrön’s writings via Oprah?

In the yoga world, Chödrön’s reasoning vibrates loudly. In late December of last year, Ashtanga Yoga adept Kino MacGregor recommended this very interview to her million-plus followers as a resource that would help them integrate the competing stories of love and terror that constitute the legacy of Pattabhi Jois. Whether it works remains to be seen.

 

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* The June 30th letter was copied from a PDF doc and passed along via a trusted source, but I have not located the original. If you have a copy, please send it to threadsofyoga@gmail.com and I will upload and link it here.

20 Comments

  • Good day Mathew,

    I am ‘an old Trungpa dog’ who has also served Sakyong Mipham. You could say that I am Ronin these days…a refusenik.

    If you would like to speak to someone with very close first hand experience with both men, and who is interested in engaging in conversation not to ‘save the Church’ but to actually learn what to accept and what to reject (at least for myself) – I am your gal.

    You see, I consider your language analysis quite insightful, but I question the leaps of logic you make to reach your conclusions. They way you conflate VCTR’s and SMR’s behaviour in my and others experience over many many years – is simply not accurate. Granted, there are other opinions and you will have to be the judge of who and what is trustworthy.

    What da ya think? Open for a chat? You can tape it and transcribe it if you’d like.

    Thank you

    Julia Sagebien

  • Hello,

    I read your article and you seem to be conflating some things and using the wrongdoing of Osel Mukpo to essentially take what appears to me a broad swipe at all Buddhism.

    I called the Baltimore Shambhala Sangha my spiritual home for several years. I sat in front of Mukpo in his role as Sakyong and took teaching from him. I requested he bless my then-unborn daughter.

    I’m no apologist for Mukpo. Send me an email address and I will share the emails I sent to the Sangha. I believe he should submit to a transparent and just criminal investigation.

    At the very least, he no longer can serve as a qualified spiritual guide.

    And my connection is with the Baltimore Sangha, which is filled with people of good will and good character wrestling with something awful. I’m not in a position to defend or discuss the Shambhala International organization.

    You seem be implying that Shambhala–all of Buddhism?–is some kind of sham. As though no in Shambhala or Buddhism is of good faith. And that’s where I have a problem.

    The Baltimore Sangha is filled with people up and down who are committed to the Dharma and their practice.

    You get into various events where fees are charged. I’ve noticed that since the outbreak of the Great Recession a decade ago, Sanghas have been sensitive to income and seen notices for teachings and like with a suggested donation but immediately followed up with a “But please don’t stay away due to finances.”

    I notice you offer various goods here on your site. Do you advertise thusly you will give them for free to those of low income?

    Buddhism teaches compassion for all. To me and others, at least among the Baltimore Sangha, that doesn’t mean to give this guy a pass. Let the justice system take it’s course. From the evidence I’ve seen Mukpo could well be in trouble.

    But that doesn’t mean we stop praying for both the victims and the victimizer.

    Maybe you disagree with that. Fair enough. You don’t have to support or like Buddhism. But to take a swipe with the impression that all teachers are somehow sinister and all practioners are mindless dupes is really quite uncalled for.

    I have been fortunate to have received teaching from some high lamas–I am forever in their debt.

    I’ve gone through things in my life where all I had to hold onto we’re the Dharma and my practice.

    Criticize Mukpo and his father if you wish. It is more than warranted. But you, Mr. Remski, would do better to show more compassion to those of us who are practioners who hold the Buddhadharma so dear.

  • Thank you, Matthew.

    This is the most confirming and supportive written piece I have come across since reading Lama Willa B. Miler’s (“Breaking the Silence on Sexual Misconduct”) published in Lion’s Roar this past May (2018). So far, the pervasive and ongoing denial of what constitutes harmful behaviour, speech and attitudes perpetrated by community teachers and structures (let alone the perpetrators of specific ‘incidents’ of abuse) is from my own view not often grasped when written about from an etic perspective. For me, the above conveys some of the first (publicly) displayed capacity for empathy with and care for the harmful experiences and perspectives held by many ‘survivors’ of (particularly sexual) abuses incurred at the hand of Shambhala and appointees to carry its vision. I appreciate your attention to nuances that speak to mechanisms of secondary harm that impact all of us and that prop up the conditions that make abuse recur and be rejustified through. I have not yet seen elsewhere any active community members, nor news reporters, sufficiently delve into how the connection between teachings and teachers enable abuse. You articulate so well aspects of the conditions, hypocrisy and consequences of abusive behaviours that are perpetrated in power relationships arranged through cult-like environments and communities that both promote and require individuals to internalize a totalizing worldview to garner ‘membership’ and buy the basic need of belonging in ‘communities’ like Shambhala. Perhaps I am an exception, but I fully disagree with the person above when they say that you “would do better to show more compassion to those of us who are practitioners who hold the Buddhadharma so dear”–I believe and feel that you are “showing compassion to those if us who” have been on the receiving end of non-compassion by persons preaching the so-called “compassion” of the Buddhadharma that WE all tried –in the face of grappling with the contradictions of all the abuse it enabled–to hold “so dear”.

    Thank you.

  • I went it for a ‘teaching’ at a retreat with a holy-holy Tibetan guy and the moment he winked and suggested I enter in a ‘real’ tantric relationship with him in his daytime flat nearby I ran out of the room shouting “you’ve got to be kidding me!”. He laughed and shrugged & the whole Sangha,up until that moment very friendly and warm, stood coldly and shunned me. Told me to leave as my ‘spiritual confusion’ was disturbing ‘community peace’. The following week I got three phone calls from ‘Nuns’ of the Sangha to explain to me where my understanding was wrong,deluded,misguided,naive. When that didn’t work two of the three made vague threats about where I worked on campus. The other one just sighed and said “I know,you’re right, what on earth am I doing?’

  • I feel scared and sick reading this letter from the Werma Acharyas…… Why would the Acharyas supplicate the Sakyong (who is under investigation for sexual abuse) to be at Shambhala Mountain Center with them on the big retreat? … they say “Rest assured, we Werma Acharyas will be giving all the transmissions in the event he is not there”……. There is also the line about protecting girls and women (which is important)…. What about the men who were raped in Shambhala? ( I have heard first-hand survivor accounts from men)………… I am so confused reading Shambhalas response to the systemic abuse…..Do they not know that *women abuse* as well and that having the Sakyong on the land, could cause so much secondary trauma for people…. The lack of awareness and empathy from these teachers is astounding…… It reminds me of the Catholic Church allowing priests to still function after they abused… IMO… the Sakyong needs some long-term treatment and could even end up with criminal charges….What about all the people who were engaged in the *cover up*….. which would probably be most of his Acharyas? ….. This organization seems truly sick and traumatized…. I feel deep concern for anyone who would want to join them….. Its not to surprising though…… after watching an amazing documentary on Scientology called “going clear*….. it explains how crazy people get in these types of organizations…. I have some friends who were going to attend the higher level Scorpion Seal programs at Shambhala, however they have decided to drop out over all this sickness…. I suspect many will stay and try to deal with it…… I feel very scared for this organization… It seems like the Catholic Church all over again on a smaller scale…. ps. women abuse as well (Catholic nuns, etc)…. they also cover it up, everybody does……

  • Thank you very much Matthew. Shambhala’s mission statement: ‘Our mission is to inspire an awake and compassionate society through personal and collective transformation’. Is this society the sangha itself or a group of people outside the sangha? Both? Who is the ‘our’ who is inspiring transformation? Inspiring ‘someone’ implies that there are people who are not inspired and need to be motivated. There are many people who may not share this vision. I have been at an event where we were asked to discuss how Shambhala has helped us as individuals and to discuss how we brought this knowledge to the world outside the sangha. This seemed intrusive to me. A society is an ordered community, an association, a brotherhood, sorority, club, an alliance. An ‘in’ place. A collective is ‘a whole’: a sharing cooperative. The personal concerns ones private life. My question is: Where are the boundaries between these in this mission statement? In Buddhism words have definitions whose nature is mutable or ‘groundless’ (if I understand this concept correctly.) The word, inspire, means ‘to motivate’ or ‘to breathe’. The idea of ‘breathing’ a community into being is wonderful; that the act of breathing alone could create active changing bonds between different kinds of people through private and collective contributions is thought provoking. This mission statement, as it is, is not about breathe but tries to represent ideals which are yet unclear. A spirituality needs open, goalness, groundlessness ground. Institutions and Spiritualities are Not Similar in the way they support people. Institutions need to set clear boundaries. I have noticed that most other sanghas limit their mission statement to naming a practice. In this way the institution allows individuals to form their own visions — which they may share. Or not. The society is still intact, but is not institutionalized as a fixed goal. I am wondering if this need to create a society without clear boundaries is the source of the abusive attitudes at Shambhala: that society was privatized, for the use of the privileged few, the individual was inversely publicized, abused for the good of the whole. FYI: I recommend “An Olive Branch” podcasts. https://www.an-olive-branch.org/

  • Sooner or later, those of us working with these issues may come to deeper dialogue and communication (without an authority manifesting.) If we don’t learn to turn toward one another, my sense is these situations will keep occurring. This type of communication is possible, but quite arduous and difficult. Does anyone else see this necessity?

  • Imagine (briefly), that these humans (Archayas) just started calling themselves humans. My goodness. Imagine (briefly) that we as students of whatever we are students of took responsibility for ourselves and the world, and didn’t rely so cowardly (very much myself included) on a spiritual authority to govern our high hope and fear. To offer us our basic goodness. This is the only issue I see at all. I mean hell, we are all humans, none more human than any other human.

    • Michael Blankenbeckley wrote
      “…that we as students of whatever we are […] took responsibility for ourselves and the world, and didn’t rely so cowardly (very much myself included) on a spiritual authority to govern our high hope and fear.”

      Yes.

      To make this move (as many (myself also included) are somewhat cowardly) we might discover our basic goodness together. There’s a doorway if we step through.

      • And Great Good news seems to have it that the door of basic goodness seems to always be within a leap. I heard it said once, “without a broken heart, your warrior ship is untrustworthy”. Maybe it could be called “basic tenderness”, to help clarify such a leap in this modern culture.

        Thankful in the Blessing of Profound Greif.

        Michael

        • Thanks, Michael. Yes.

          If that shift/leap occurs alone or even in a group facing the transmitter/authority of that leap something is missing. We finish the ‘session’ and re-fragment.

          How might we create a situation where we turn toward one another and discover that confidence together? What other ways, other possibilities might emerge?

          “Some time ago there was an anthropologist who lived for a long while with a North American tribe. It was a small group of about this size. The hunter-gatherers have typically lived in groups of twenty to forty. Agricultural group units are much larger. Now, from time to time that tribe met like this in a circle. They just talked and talked and talked, apparently to no purpose. They made no decisions. There was no leader. And everybody could participate. There may have been wise men or wise women who were listened to a bit more – the older ones – but everybody could talk. The meeting went on, until it finally seemed to stop for no reason at all and the group dispersed.
          Yet after that, everybody seemed to know what to do, because they understood each other so well. Then they could get together in smaller groups and do something or decide things” D.B. On Dialogue

  • In the book, “Meaning of Life: Buddhist Perspectives on Cause and Effect” the Dalai Lama responds to a question posed by an unnamed person. Something to reflect on since the questioner offers that there may be a condition where a Buddhist teacher may be exempt from the precepts everyone else is required to follow. Translation by Jeffrey Hopkins.

    “Question: Many Buddhists find it disturbing to hear of Buddhist teachers who regularly break certain precepts by, for example, saying that it is permissible to drink alcohol, to cohabit with members of the spiritual community, and so forth. Are there any circumstances under which these precepts may be broken?

    Answer: It is said in the scriptures of the Bodhisattva Vehicle that for the maturation of one’s own mental continuum there is the practice of the six perfections — giving, ethics, patience, effort, concentration, and wisdom — and for the maturation of others’ continuums there are the four means of gathering students — giving material things to students; speaking pleasantly, which means to teach how to gain better lifetimes within cyclic existence; causing students to adopt in practice what is helpful and to discard from within their behavior what is counterproductive; and practicing oneself all of what one teaches others. Therefore, what one teaches others, one must also practice. With common sense we can see that it is not suitable to explain practices to other people and then do something else oneself. Speaking frankly, when what a person teaches and what that person practices are contradictory, it means that he or she does not have the full qualifications of a spiritual guide.

    It is said that it is important for a student to understand the qualifications of a guru set forth in the Buddha’s scriptures on discipline, in the discourses, and in tantra prior to making a religious connection with someone as his or her teacher and to analyze whether or not the person has these qualifications. Also, a person who wishes to become a lama teaching others must understand these qualifications and work at fulfilling them.

    In the tantra system there is a procedure for great adepts, who are at a very high level of realization, to behave in unusual ways. The boundary line for engaging in these unusual activities is said to be when the adept has ‘attained capacity.’ What is the meaning of having attained capacity? The great Druk-b-a G-a-gyu-b-a scholar and adept Padma G-ar-b-o said that this means that the yogi has reached the point whereby, through the power of yoga, he or she is capable of overcoming the non-faith that would be caused in others by the display of those activities. For instance, the great pan.di.ta Tilopa-, despite displaying many unusual modes of behavior to Na-ro-pa-, was fully capable of overcoming his non-faith. Thus, unusual deeds may be done only after having attained such capacity. On the other hand, if a lama who does not have such a capacity still tries to legitimate his or her irregular behavior, this just indicates that his or her back is to the wall.”

    This answer seems to leave the responsibility of judgment completely in the hands of the individuals seeking a teacher and offers no compensation or support to those who have been harmed. It also appears that there is no practical body that takes responsibility for the actions of destructive teachers or lamas so the students must act alone in self-defense.

    These activities of “adepts” are unspecified but if they are against the laws of a civil society then they must be brought to court and compensation to any injuried people should be appropriately carried out as indicated by our laws.

    Things may have been different in Tibetan society but here Buddhism and its leaders, like all other religions and their leaders, must be subject to our laws and not operate outside of them. This is how victims have a voice in our culture and there is no exemption.

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