Re: Mooji a cult?
Date: March 20, 2019 09:19AM
Rick Archer presents the "few bad apples" theory.
I'd like to offer an alternative point of view: that the entire endeavor of gurus and satsangs and neoadvaita and the like is flawed from the very outset.
If you view your moral principles simply as temporary formations within awareness, then you end up ignoring them.
All that's left is the acting out of the damaged id -- the traumatized infant constantly trying to fulfill its unmet needs, no matter what the consequences for those around it.
1 day ago
MukposDD, thanks for sharing. I can relate to your post very much so. Sometimes I feel so hopelessly left alone, while stepping out sham was ofcourse totally my own decision. I’m not a young person, have met enough difficulties in my life, but the feelings of leaving sham are unknown to me and overwhelming. Therefor I had one long session with a highly professional counselar with knowledge on what she calls “manipulative systems”. It was very helpfull and I will share some of her advice.
She gave a lot of insight about the dynamics of manipulative systems. One thing that was very helpfull for me is that she talks about your first and second self. Your First Self is you when you entered the community. Your Second Self is the manipulated person (‘the better you’ but in fact not the real you) you became inside the system.
About leaving she said this: be aware of the magnatizing force. There is a strong pull to go back into the system (or to find a replacement). To go back into this second self. Every time you are in contact with the system by reading about it or meeting people, this force will pull to you. It is almost unconscious and an automatic response to the system you know so well.
She adviced to avoid contact with the system as much a possible. And she also adviced to go back to the time before you were in sham. What did you like, what did you do, what were your hobbys, habits, way of life, character flaws. Look at pictures of this time. Write down memories. Do the things you liked then. Remember yourself as you were before shambhala. Take a minute or five every day to deliberately go back in time.
I broke with all my shambhala friends. Because they especially contacted me in their moments of doubt, but still staying in. It throw me in a kind of depression and feelings of exhaustion every time afterwards. But here I am, on reddit. Bringing myself in contact with shambhala again. Everyday I say to myself, today I will not go there, live one day completey without shambhala. No reddit today. And sometimes this is going well. Especially when I work. But then the weekends come or holidays. And in those days I sometimes miss shambhala, my friends, the feeling of community, the lessons. And I feel the force pulling on me, a longing on the edge of graving. It is like a rehab. And it is like Droney says: there are good days and bad days. But I also feel I’m becoming my first self more and more. That’s in the end a good thing. It is a process. Difficult, painfull and confronting.
Good luck MukposDD! And all the other readers who are in this difficult process. You are brave. You had the courage to say ‘no’ to a system that went against your (first self) sincere and authentic moral values. Keep your head up, look at the world. It is all still there!
18 hours ago
I wrote this and posted yesterday in a different thread, but I figure I'll share it here too since it pertains, and your post makes me feel less alone:
Oh yeah definitely. I mean, hundreds of people will probably stick it out for him regardless of whether or not they credit the accusers- some doing mental gymnastics supported by vajrayana dharma about gurus and goodness and the valor of forgiveness, and some just discrediting the people who have come forward. The latter make half-baked claims about the “era of metoo” going too far etc etc. I know plenty of these people. I’ve said this elsewhere: they have too much life, money, and time invested to feel like they can leave. Their identities, credentials, and families are too deeply invested in the community’s survival. I’d like to think they’re all cowards, but in truth I see many of them are just like overpowered by cognitive dissonance. They might not know anything else! Some grew up in shambhala.
But then I also think about the people for whom that was also true—life work invested, family generations involved—but who got raped or molested or abused by the guru and now find themselves bereft and abandoned. I imagine there are people who meet that description who are even STILL involved in the community and don’t know how to escape. They might lose their family, their means of survival, and all bearings in reality. The teachings schedule your daily lives, after all! The shambhala calendar scripts your year and cultural touchstones—how you mark the passage of time! If you never lived on a land center or weren’t raised in a sangha family or didn’t get through SSA, it might be hard to believe that this is how deep these things go. The teachings are meant to be the rhythm of your life. It can seem beautiful at best. I thought I would live out my life in this world, raise my kid in it, and would be cremated and scattered in the four directions of a parade ground one day. I felt so fortunate, as I was told to feel. The ole turtle in the ocean parable yadda yadda.
So to understand the degree to which the leadership has committed absolute treason against hopeful, willing, vulnerable people, you have to imagine that they cultivated this community all the while knowing—at least some of them—how rotten it was at its core. Even those who didn’t know of all the sexual abuse knew, to some extent, that they were keeping the curtain closed around the wizard of Oz, to draw upon an apt analogy. Or to use another one: they knew that the emperor wore no clothes. And they actively helped to preserve that illusion.
I acknowledge how hard it is to wake up from this illusion or dream, to admit what you suspected all along: that it’s too good to be true. As more offenses come to light, it becomes that much easier to find an excuse to pull out, but it also becomes that much more tempting for those who just don’t wanna let go to grasp at the murky sophistications of dharmic sounding language, to say “oh this is where you lean in, this is the warriorship, this is the real test of your faith in basic goodness, oh this is the mishap lineage, oh these are the purifications,” and “I mean do you even know what Tilopa/Naropa/Marpa/Milarepa did?” And watch the vacant, racist, orientalist cliches about Tibetans start to pile up to boot. It’s so predictable bc it’s so cliche.
It’s a dangerous time because (I suspect) there are more victims who haven’t come forward-likely some young ones who’ve got parents too deeply enmeshed to support them. I mean, you should HEAR the absolutely fucked up stuff that has happened even recently at Sun Camps. Levy throwing benches sounds downright quaint and lovely in comparison to what has been covered up there. And then there are the low-paid employees- all of whom are likely to lose their livelihoods. There are resentful hardliners retraumatizing people in their shambhala network posts and stupid articles and Facebook rants.
So yeah- there are enough people around that will keep this Sakyong worship going on for at least a while. The people responsible—the Greenleafs housing the royal family up in Vermont, the Hoaglands, and the other aristocratics whoever they are in Europe and CO—they are UNLIKELY to suddenly see the light at this point. We should extend support in whatever way now to the brave people who have actually lost a lot in order to shed light on what we didn’t really want to see. And we should make it hard for the aristocracy, the leaders, and the diehards to feel comfortable with their stances.
There’s no way Cutting Through gets published on Trungpa’s steam alone. So let’s think about this in relation to his published output of dozens of books, and the fact that his alcohol and drug use only increased over time, which means that his daily hours of lucidity dwindled, even as his fame and the free labour available to him increased.
Not comparing myself here, but without drinking and with no secretarial or research support, it takes me three years of almost full-time labour to finish a non-fiction book, and I’m not exactly slow. It takes Michael Ondaatje about seven years to complete a good novel.
So how did Trungpa publish? From the very beginning, he had a small army doing most of the work, which involved the careful sense-making of his students. Their job was to take the entranced group experience and make it work on the page, because it was through the page that they would attract more recruits to the group experience.
While the group looked to Trungpa for sense, the group itself made Trungpa make sense.
The notion that Trungpa carried an untouched root of medieval Tibetan Buddhism into the postmodern world is not the whole story. The notion that he was a lonely gardener of that same root is not the whole story. What’s closer to the truth — in terms of his published output — is that he was the charismatic focal point of a collaborative movement that was quickly monetizing itself.
But it goes deeper.
The manufacturing and editing process of charismatic literature is inseparable from the manufacturing and editing process of the leader’s image and the group’s self-narrative. Baker and Casper hunker down with the leader to co-produce a book that attracts people to the group. Their focus is on the message, the message, the message — but not what he’s saying so much as what they can understand, come to an agreement about, concerning what they need, or want. They edit out the nonsense, and focus on what the finished page will look like.
Meanwhile, a larger circle is telling a story about the leader and his inner circle — including people like Baker and Casper. That ring is faithful, they’re tuned in, they’re recording the messages coming from the inside with perfect fidelity. What gets left out is the alcohol, the cocaine, the sex with countless students.
Here is the recent paper by Dr. Anne Iris Miriam Anders from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich’s Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology:
Silencing and Oblivion of Psychological Trauma, Its Unconscious Aspects, and Their Impact on the Inflation of Vajrayana. An Analysis of Cross-Group Dynamics and Recent Developments in Buddhist Groups Based on Qualitative Data.
Qualitative data was extracted from survey responses from victims and witnesses of abuse in Tibetan Buddhist communities, such as Rigpa, Shambhala, Ogyen Kunzang Choling and Pathgate.
Abstract of the paper:Quote
The commercialization of Buddhist philosophy has led to decontextualization and indoctrinating issues across groups, as well as abuse and trauma in that context. Methodologically, from an interdisciplinary approach, based on the current situation in international Buddhist groups and citations of victims from the ongoing research, the psychological mechanisms of rationalizing and silencing trauma were analyzed. The results show how supposedly Buddhist terminology and concepts are used to rationalize and justify economic, psychological and physical abuse. This is discussed against the background of psychological mechanisms of silencing trauma and the impact of ignoring the unconscious in that particular context. Inadequate consideration regarding the teacher–student relationship, combined with an unreflective use of Tibetan honorary titles and distorted conceptualizations of methods, such as the constant merging prescribed in so-called 'guru yoga', resulted in giving up self-responsibility and enhanced dependency. These new concepts, commercialized as 'karma purification' and 'pure view', have served to rationalize and conceal abuse, as well as to isolate the victims. Therefore, we are facing societal challenges, in terms of providing health and economic care to the victims and implementing preventive measures. This use of language also impacts on scientific discourse and Vajrayana itself, and will affect many future generations.
Dr. Anders’ paper contributes to initial scientific investigation into the mechanics underlying the abuse in Tibetan Buddhist communities and its impact on victims. It serves as an invaluable foundation for future research into this phenomenon.
The full paper can be read here: [www.mdpi.com]
Blog post: [pathgatesurvivors.com]
An independent investigation commissioned by Shambhala into the arrest of a former member found the Boulder-born Buddhist organization did not pressure the parents of the child not to report sexual-assault allegations, but did find the community needed to improve mandatory reporting and intervention training.
Michael Smith, 55, is set for trial in Boulder in April on one count of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust with a pattern of abuse after prosecutors allege he sexually abused a girl he met through Shambhala multiple times starting in 1997 when the victim was 13 years old.
According to a police report, the girl first told a family friend about the abuse in 1998 and then told her parents. A teacher also filed a report with Boulder police, though Smith’s name was never included in that report.
At that point, police say Shambhala was contacted and a man named Dennis Southward, who reportedly dealt with “family conflicts or domestic violence issues within families” for Shambhala, became involved.
According to the report, Southward told the girl’s family to have Smith enter a “restorative justice” program set up by Southward rather than go to police. Witnesses told police Smith entered treatment and also paid for the girl to go to therapy.
The family then told Boulder police in 1998 they did not want to pursue charges.
Following Smith’s arrest and the release of the police report, Shambhala hired Employment Matters LLC Flynn Investigation Group “to investigate how Shambhala handled its involvement in events surrounding the allegations leading to the recent arrest of Michael Smith, a former Shambhala member,” according to an email sent to members on Dec. 7.
Shambhala officials did not release the entire report, as requested by the Daily Camera, because “the report contains confidential information regarding the identities of those who participated in interviews, and is not available for public release.”
However, the Dec. 7 email did highlight “key investigative findings.” According to the email, the Flynn investigation found “Shambhala did not in any way pressure the parents of the minor not to bring charges, either civic or criminal, against the alleged perpetrator,” and that the parents “decided for various reasons not to pursue the matter in the criminal process” at the time.
But the report also found “areas needing attention,” including training and knowledge of mandatory reporting requirements, clear and documented decisions on intervention, a database to track patters of behavior and “sensitivity to any tendency to rationalize harmful behavior by using non-conventional justifications or solutions.”
Shambhala, the Boulder-born Buddhist organization, suppressed allegations of abuse, ex-members say
Shambhala’s spiritual leader, sidelined by sexual misconduct scandal, is selling his Boulder County home for $2.4 million
Shambhala Mountain Center apologizes for not properly addressing abuse, sexual misconduct
As sale of Boulder’s Marpa House closes to keep Shambhala solvent, residents say they feel misled
“The board will work with CCSG (Code of Conduct Support Group) to insure that the code of conduct and its implementation, in particular the child protection policy, addresses the above issues,” the Shambhala Board wrote in the email. “The board wishes to thank the many Shambhala members who responded to the Flynn Group and provided helpful information.”
The year 2019 saw Shambhala community rocked by scandal and allegations of sexual misconduct.
In addition to Smith, another former Boulder Shambhala member, William Karelis, also is facing trial for sexual assault on a child.
Most recently, a student news group at California’s Chapman University posted a report about allegations of misconduct at Larimer County’s Shambhala Mountain Center.
The Shambhala Board of Directors on Thursday issued a statement on the Chapman University story.Quote
“It is our understanding that a complaint regarding the teacher at Shambhala Mountain Center was raised at the time it occurred, and SMC leadership acted upon it immediately following proper protocol,” the statement read. “Upon receiving the complaint, the teacher was removed promptly from SMC property and an investigation was initiated. The SMC investigation results indicated that the complaint was valid and the teacher has been permanently removed from teaching at SMC, and additionally suspended from all Shambhala teaching authorizations pending further investigation.”