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Ehtical Conduct in Buddhist Organisations - Fund for Victims of Abuse

Posted: Fri Dec 15, 2017 1:03 pm
by veggiepeace
Hello everybody,

hope you are all well.

Today I want to get back to the topic of spiritual abuse.
The term „spiritual abuse“ as I understand it comprises all kinds of abuse which imply the imbalance of power, imbalance of authority and the onesided possession of means to dominate the sovereignty of interpretation concerning religious matters and beliefs.

This imbalance seems (by nature) to be inherent in every relation between a student and a teacher, or let’s call it the relationship between beginner and an advanced or more sophisticated student or teacher which in many cases is also an authority figure.

While this role of embodying an authority figure and often an idealised spiritual personality requires a mindful responsibility towards their community, for some reasons this responsibilty is not always given.

I have read that most of you agree upon an unwritten code of ethical behaviour in buddhist communities and many of you endorse the set-up of a documented ethical code. Which seems to be necessary.

As you obviously are aware of, abuse has not been only a topic or problem in catholic church, christian communities, not to mention sectarian ones, but also in buddhist communities, even among zen orders. Globally, all over the world.

Now this only demonstrates that people on the top of a spiritual or religious organisation are as „human“ and prone to the pitfalls of misuse of power (which is present in many secular organisations too, as we probably all know) – as worshippers and believers are vulnerable to not being able to recognise abuse of power – or they recognise it too late.

That being said, I would like to mention, that I have not been a victim of spiritual abuse, or at least „only“ to a minor degree, as I was blinded by the radiation of a spiritual personality who duped their followers, worshippers and donors. I would categorise myself as „observer“ and also „deceived“ or betrayed, because I invested some time, energy and money, not knowing what was really going on behind closed doors.

So this might be common for many other people, too, as again, many of you have acknowledged it in discussions on and are aware of this kind of abuse in some – fortunately only few(!) – sanghas and communities.

It is not limited to any specific buddhist line, group or community, but it’s rather a sign of human failure, as far as I would interpret it.

To make this long story short, the reason why I am contacting you today is this question:

Do you know of a fund or organisation that is dedicated to victims of abuse in buddhist communities in general?

What I mean is a kind of superordinate fund or organisation that is not divided by different schools, lines or labels, but concentrates on helping the victims of abuse in buddhist communities.
The focus should be on helping the victims of abuse – not on different interpretations of the buddhist doctrine here! It’s about showing compassion for people who need and deserve some support.

I will be very happy to donate some money into such a fund, if it already exists. Please keep me updated about such an option.

Thank you!

Re: Ehtical Conduct in Buddhist Organisations - Fund for Victims of Abuse

Posted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 10:48 am
by veggiepeace
Wanted to edit the previous posting, but did not find the tool for it...

I think, when I wrote "lines" or "schools" this is not the correct term in buddhism, it's rather "lineages" and "traditions", isn't it?

Nonetheless I am sure that the different traditions and lineages have some core values and rules in common. One of them the jewels of buddha, dharma and sangha.
To avoid mistakes due to my unsufficient skills I am quoting from wikipedia:
"The Four divine abidings (Brahmaviharas) are seen as central virtues and intentions in Buddhist ethics, psychology and meditation. The four divine abidings are good will, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity. Developing these virtues through meditation and right action promotes happiness, generates good merit and trains the mind for ethical action.

An important quality which supports right action is Heedfulness (Appamada), a combination of energy/effort (Viriya) and Mindfulness. Mindfulness is an alert presence of mind which allows one to be more aware of what is happening with one's intentional states. Heedfulness is aided by 'clear comprehension' or 'discrimination' (Sampajañña), which gives rise to moral knowledge of what is to be done. Another important supporting quality of Buddhist morality is Trust or Confidence in the teachings of the Buddha and in one's own ability to put them into practice. Wisdom and Understanding are seen as a prerequisite for acting morally. Having an understanding of the true nature of reality is seen as leading to ethical actions. Understanding the truth of not-self for example, allows one to become detached from selfish motivations and therefore allows one to be more altruistic. Having an understanding of the workings of the mind and of the law of karma also makes one less likely to perform an unethical action."

And - yes, I feel a bit embarassed having posted this blog posting and will "avoid actions which were seen to harm one's integrity" and I will develop "Ottappa [which] is an awareness of the effects of one's actions and sense of embarrassment before others" from now on. Hopefully.