Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Dan74
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Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by Dan74 » Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:28 pm

We've seen them - threads about the latest scandal going on for pages and pages.

"Did he, didn't he? Was it so bad after all?"

"Is it the teacher's fault?"

"Is it the students' fault?"

"Is it the establishment's fault, the system's fault?"

"Why should I care?"

"What are the lessons to be learnt?"

Rather than focusing on specific scandals, my intention for this thread is to explore what they mean for us as practitioners, and for the tradition they affect.

Most of us have been hurt, let down, some experienced traumatic abuse from people who were meant to protect us or know someone who has. The story of a new scandal can be an opportunity to relive the trauma, which exercises a pull on the psyche. This is where awareness needs to brought in, IMO, to break the cycle of this unconscious replaying.

There's also a part that refuses to believe that anything can be good or pure and the scandal serves as another "proof", when a respected master turns out to be a greedy self-obsessed lech.

Organisationally, it is tragic when the inner circle cover up and aid and abet the abuser and the establishment, including supposedly enlightened teachers, lend him legitimacy for years, further enabling the abuse.

Much has been written about this issue in the Zen Buddhist circles, specifically identifying the perception of the teacher as a spiritual master, someone students are lucky to be near and by definition beyond reproach, making any accusatory thought, the student's own issue. When we go to the church, we don't expect the priest to be a saint, but a Buddhist teacher is meant to carry this aura of enlightenment. This, coupled with various Mahayana scriptures and traditions of skilful means, crazy wisdom, etc creates a little leeway as far as "seemingly unethical behaviour" is concerned.

So what does it mean for us, as students/practitioners?

A teacher once told me that true crazy wisdom teachers are very rare, hard to tell apart from the phoneys, and even they can be dangerous. For most of us, a more traditional teacher, not to say, a boring, robotic reciter of scriptures, but a gentler personality who follows the precepts and the disciplines, would be a far safer bet. What do you think? Or would you have liked to be on the receiving end of Sogyal's slaps, Eido Shimano's predations, or even Trungpa Rinpoche's shenanigans, though I know that it is unfair to put him in the same company, since from what I gather he was truly dedicated to the Dharma in his way and was perhaps this rare true exemplar of crazy wisdom. But would you??

_/|\_

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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by Norwegian » Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:12 pm

I'll just say that with regards to "crazy wisdom", this is a very complicated issue that needs a lot of explanation and context. But in short, with regards to highly unconventional teachers, Mingyur Rinpoche's advice is worth considering:

"This tradition of “crazy wisdom” can be authentic, but unfortunately it is often invoked as a rationalization for unethical behavior that has nothing to do with wisdom or compassion. . . The most important thing to know about these unusual teaching styles is that they are meant to benefit the student. If they are not rooted in compassion and wisdom, they are not genuine. . . When a teacher uses an extreme approach that is rooted in compassion, the result is spiritual growth, not trauma. Trauma is a sure sign that the “crazy wisdom” behavior was missing the wisdom to see what would truly benefit the student, the compassion that puts the student’s interest first, or both."

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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by muni » Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:22 pm

This jumps in mind: When you are ready, the Master appears. But when one goes to a retreat of a ‘famous’ master with the right curriculum vitae, correct famous lineage, this can be a problem, because this is based on worldly view. Then things can happen.
First examine the teachings to have an understanding for what the tools are used and very much wish to be free, then contemplate about, meditate is said. When there is some insight that what is meant is beyond words, then it is probably time for a teacher. This of course is all theoretically speaking. And if that Master turns out to have problems even he seems to have insight, then it is easier to say “no” or at least to doubt and take information.

But as long as the master is seen as merely a person/a self, this will not so easy lead to awaken neither, even that master is fully enlightened.

What is strange, not ok, we must not do, even the master is telling to do so. H H Dalai Lama said to tell about, to come out with it, in case of doubt. But he said as well many other things, like: “it is more useful to be aware of a single weakness in oneself than to be aware of a thousand weaknesses in someone else.” Since this is the tendency of samsara.

Whose fault is it? Who to blame? No who. “a Master “ guides beyond clinging, doesn’t cling him-herself, is an example of Compassionate Impartial Action because he/she is talking as Nature, not as a ‘person’ conditioned to worldly things or worldly views and acts based on such.
:meditate:

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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by jorden » Thu Sep 28, 2017 6:06 pm

One thing I have noticed is that people don't really like to talk (religious) politics and money at the dharma centre, especially when they are just starting out. They came there to avoid thinking about such worldly issues. After an inspiring dharmatalk it is kind of a party killer to ask about something as banal as monestary assets.

So I think that asking those type of questions publicly would be a start: how financially transparent is this sangha? Does it publish financial reports every year (including donations from abroad)? What kind of financial or familial relations does the teacher have to other teachers/foundations/organizations?

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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by Miroku » Thu Sep 28, 2017 6:50 pm

I think it should teach us as westerners to be bit patient and really try to examine the master. I know it is hard, because many masters are often only passing by for one or two days, but asking around and also taking look at the way the centers are organised can often say a lot.

This topic is really heavy. I am not sure if we as students should publicly criticize the master for his behaviour after taking initiations from him. But then again if people are getting hurt, what else to do to stop it? I don't think private audience with master would change anything. However if some fishy things are going on it is always better leave as soon as possible and maybe seek out some more qualified master and his guidance is probably the best.
A boat delivers you to the other riverbank.
A needle stitches up your clothes.
A horse takes you where you want to go.
Bodhicitta will bring you to Buddhahood.

~ Khunu Lama Rinpoche

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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Thu Sep 28, 2017 7:42 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:28 pm
Rather than focusing on specific scandals, my intention for this thread is to explore what they mean for us as practitioners, and for the tradition they affect.
For me personally, it doesn't matter until it's one of my teachers. And if one of my teachers were involved in a scandal, I'd try to maintain pure perception. Honestly there have been small little dramas that some students have created about my teacher, but I just try to maintain pure perception.

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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by jorden » Thu Sep 28, 2017 8:23 pm

tomamundsen wrote:
Thu Sep 28, 2017 7:42 pm
Dan74 wrote:
Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:28 pm
Rather than focusing on specific scandals, my intention for this thread is to explore what they mean for us as practitioners, and for the tradition they affect.
For me personally, it doesn't matter until it's one of my teachers. And if one of my teachers were involved in a scandal, I'd try to maintain pure perception. Honestly there have been small little dramas that some students have created about my teacher, but I just try to maintain pure perception.
You could begin by asking if your teacher in any way might have endorsed or enabled one of the more scandalous teachers in any way in the past. For instance, by referring students to him. This is how scandalous teachers maintain a PR-balance. On the one hand there are all the rumours and gossip, on the other hand there is the banner on the website saying how this holiness thinks so highly of this other holiness..

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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Thu Sep 28, 2017 8:35 pm

jorden wrote:
Thu Sep 28, 2017 8:23 pm
tomamundsen wrote:
Thu Sep 28, 2017 7:42 pm
Dan74 wrote:
Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:28 pm
Rather than focusing on specific scandals, my intention for this thread is to explore what they mean for us as practitioners, and for the tradition they affect.
For me personally, it doesn't matter until it's one of my teachers. And if one of my teachers were involved in a scandal, I'd try to maintain pure perception. Honestly there have been small little dramas that some students have created about my teacher, but I just try to maintain pure perception.
You could begin by asking if your teacher in any way might have endorsed or enabled one of the more scandalous teachers in any way in the past. For instance, by referring students to him. This is how scandalous teachers maintain a PR-balance. On the one hand there are all the rumours and gossip, on the other hand there is the banner on the website saying how this holiness thinks so highly of this other holiness..
Yea that stuff just doesn't really matter to me, personally. Khen Rinpoche Namdrol and Khyentse Rinpoche are two lamas that I consider to be my teacher to some extent.

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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by jorden » Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:31 pm

For example this kind of stuff: https://www.buddhistdoor.net/news/khenc ... al-ripoche. See also the discussion on Vajracakra: http://vajracakra.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=4144.

One teacher protecting the other, trying to keep the whole house of cards from collapsing on their heads? Btw, it might be difficult to discuss this in general terms, without referring to concrete examples surrounding these scandals.

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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by jkarlins » Fri Sep 29, 2017 1:09 am

With my teacher, my focus was on receiving teachings I wanted, basically sadhana practices. He seemed happy to provide this, and continues to be very generous about this. Although he will also set certain limits about the progression of practices.

One reason it's hard to say is that it's so personal and in the moment, and people tend to be deceptive. So a teacher who appears good could turn out to be deeply flawed.

One thing that worked for me was not looking for a charismatic personality or impressive center. I went for practices. Then later I began to appreciate the teacher's personality.

Jake

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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by Nemo » Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:17 am

If your teacher has shown you the nature of mind hope they are not a crazy wisdom yogi. You may be breaking them out of jail or scoring them drugs. It really wouldn't matter as you only need to keep your samayas and if the blessings are real you would know. Hopefully they live a conventional life.

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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by emaho » Fri Sep 29, 2017 3:40 am

Dan74 wrote:
Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:28 pm
For most of us, a more traditional teacher, not to say, a boring, robotic reciter of scriptures...
Apologies for being off-topic, but I can't resist:

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/tec ... ?cid=fbcna

:mrgreen:



(or maybe not so off-topic?)
"I struggled with some demons, They were middle class and tame..." L. Cohen

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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by PuerAzaelis » Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:36 pm

Any organization will attract sociopaths in proportion to its power. Why is this so hard to understand?
Generally, enjoyment of speech is the gateway to poor [results]. So it becomes the foundation for generating all negative emotional states. Jampel Pawo, The Certainty of the Diamond Mind

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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by Mantrik » Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:53 pm

Once the behaviour is seriously harmful we leave the realms of Buddhism and enter the realms of Abuse using Buddhism as a means to acess victims.
Any attempt to excuse the inexcusable and blame the victims is further evidence of that.
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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by Vasana » Fri Sep 29, 2017 9:32 pm

Scandals...what do they really mean? That the gap between the Dharma and those who follow the Dharma varies quite a lot. Or the gap between the Buddha and followers of the Buddha. That the 8 worldly dharmas reign supreme as usual.
tomamundsen wrote:
Thu Sep 28, 2017 7:42 pm
For me personally, it doesn't matter until it's one of my teachers.
Admittedly I feel the same and find it quite difficult to feel as righteous about scandals as some people do here but I do think it's sad when scandals and political conflicts tarnish the reputation of Buddhism and it's followers as a whole. I imagine countless fence-sitters and those who were undecided about Buddhism recoiling and generating an even stronger aversion to dharma and anything remotely religious when these situations emerge.

I guess that history teaches us that nearly everything is a demonstration of trial and error and that hopefully for every minor and major error we see, more careful & Dharmic approaches can emerge in response. This might be wishful thinking the further into the degenerate age we go.
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by tomschwarz » Sat Sep 30, 2017 10:13 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:28 pm
We've seen them - threads about the latest scandal going on for pages and pages.

"Did he, didn't he? Was it so bad after all?"

"Is it the teacher's fault?"

"Is it the students' fault?"

"Is it the establishment's fault, the system's fault?"

"Why should I care?"

"What are the lessons to be learnt?"

Rather than focusing on specific scandals, my intention for this thread is to explore what they mean for us as practitioners, and for the tradition they affect.

Most of us have been hurt, let down, some experienced traumatic abuse from people who were meant to protect us or know someone who has. The story of a new scandal can be an opportunity to relive the trauma, which exercises a pull on the psyche. This is where awareness needs to brought in, IMO, to break the cycle of this unconscious replaying.

There's also a part that refuses to believe that anything can be good or pure and the scandal serves as another "proof", when a respected master turns out to be a greedy self-obsessed lech.

Organisationally, it is tragic when the inner circle cover up and aid and abet the abuser and the establishment, including supposedly enlightened teachers, lend him legitimacy for years, further enabling the abuse.

Much has been written about this issue in the Zen Buddhist circles, specifically identifying the perception of the teacher as a spiritual master, someone students are lucky to be near and by definition beyond reproach, making any accusatory thought, the student's own issue. When we go to the church, we don't expect the priest to be a saint, but a Buddhist teacher is meant to carry this aura of enlightenment. This, coupled with various Mahayana scriptures and traditions of skilful means, crazy wisdom, etc creates a little leeway as far as "seemingly unethical behaviour" is concerned.

So what does it mean for us, as students/practitioners?

A teacher once told me that true crazy wisdom teachers are very rare, hard to tell apart from the phoneys, and even they can be dangerous. For most of us, a more traditional teacher, not to say, a boring, robotic reciter of scriptures, but a gentler personality who follows the precepts and the disciplines, would be a far safer bet. What do you think? Or would you have liked to be on the receiving end of Sogyal's slaps, Eido Shimano's predations, or even Trungpa Rinpoche's shenanigans, though I know that it is unfair to put him in the same company, since from what I gather he was truly dedicated to the Dharma in his way and was perhaps this rare true exemplar of crazy wisdom. But would you??

_/|\_
we are humans. its so sad, but whether you are buddhist and agree with all this dharma or not, we have to leave this/end this whole experience of you me, our families, schools, careers, spiritual paths, and so on. SPIRITUAL PATHS????? "I am not ending that, you idiot!!!!!" ))))), well, actually, "I" will entirely end, of that I am certain.

so with that context, "teachers" that are destructive, " inner circle cover up", "aid and abet the abuser", "Buddhist teacher (...carrying...) aura of enlightenment", "greedy self-obsessed lech" and what they mean for us as practitioners )))), funny right, this would be like what cnn or foxnews, or my posts (?) mean for my practice.... what they should mean... (danger suggestion coming) ...they should be objects of your compassion!!!!!! e.g. tonglen pratice!!!! but that is simple/boring/difficult....

we are caught up in the "soap opera" the "movie plot". the buddhist practice: meditation, ethics and wisdom is not working for us. instead, with regard to the tradition of having a teacher, we were attached... it felt better, like chocolate ice cream. We desired his/her help with building stable happiness (understandable - but maybe we should have started with a therapist?). We were fundamentally ignorant of his/her true existence (emptiness/interdependence/logical connection to causes/etc...). But the sad truth is that, that perfect teacher was always a human in a place that we call samsara, the "wandering world" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sa%E1%B9%83s%C4%81ra

So my answer: be buddhist, get that meditation practice stable, see the world with that wonderful "i get it, its all logical" acceptance, bring all people (all beings?) into your caring practice, remember the wisdom (e.g. 4 noble truths, 3 poisons, 7 perfections, 12 links, etc...), and light as a feather, care for your teacher, surely he/she is not perfect and needs your absolute love ))) this is what teacher scandals could mean for your practice.
i dedicate this post to your happiness, the causes of your happiness, the absence of your suffering the causes of the absence of your suffering that we may not have too much attachment nor aversion. SAMAYAMANUPALAYA

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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by muni » Sun Oct 01, 2017 1:49 pm

Teaching - practice shows there is actually no any border between Devotion and Compassion. Unconditional love, unconditional as without any grasping.

I once heard that if there is grasping there is no Compassion. If there is no Compassion, then "devotion" could be attachment.
:meditate:

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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by boda » Sun Oct 01, 2017 7:58 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:28 pm
a Buddhist teacher is meant to carry this aura of enlightenment.

...

So what does it mean for us, as students/practitioners?
That a Buddhist teacher can carry an aura of enlightenment regardless of their apparent virtue or vice. It means that it's not about virtue, vice, truth, or even enlightenment. It means that the only essential thing that a religion needs to supply is meaning.
... Trungpa Rinpoche's shenanigans, though I know that it is unfair to put him in the same company since from what I gather he was truly dedicated to the Dharma in his way and was perhaps this rare true exemplar of crazy wisdom.
He was a true exemplar of crazy addition, drinking himself to death.

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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by rory » Mon Oct 02, 2017 4:32 am

Yeah, it's no big deal unless you're a woman and some religious leader wants to get in your pants. But of course it's your fault and no one told you you can't get f*cked into Enlightenment. I went to a Dharma center as a teenage girl with this abusive leader:
https://www.theatlantic.com/national/ar ... de/383831/ The senior students warned me about the sensei, to stay away. I took their advice but they didn't tell me the reason why, it was enough of a red light to me. But that they stood by and did nothing disgusts me. It's not only the sexually abusive leader that is so terrible, it's the students who know better and let innocents get abused knowing what will happen: that is beyond terrible.

There are no excuses.
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
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Re: Scandals in the Buddhist world - what do they really mean?

Post by tomschwarz » Tue Oct 03, 2017 4:16 pm

muni wrote:
Sun Oct 01, 2017 1:49 pm

I once heard that if there is grasping there is no Compassion. If there is no Compassion, then "devotion" could be attachment.
Ja mon
Sad but true
If you love a bird, set it free
Nothing belongs to me
I dont even have my emotions
And what i longed for, has disappeared
No food, no sex, no car, no boat
Thank goodness )))))))))) whoohooooo!!!!!
SAMAYAMANUPALAYA
We got this!!!!
i dedicate this post to your happiness, the causes of your happiness, the absence of your suffering the causes of the absence of your suffering that we may not have too much attachment nor aversion. SAMAYAMANUPALAYA

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