To my personal satisfaction, I believe I have identified a pattern within some discussions of troubled sanghas that, I am now convinced, tremendously hampers
any discussion and resolution of power abuse on the part of a leader,.
I read all 52 pages of the E sangha discussion thread on Ole N--it took days, but I recommend this exercise to all interested in this matter.
Their definition of Right Speech is to refrain from blame.
I thought, this is well and good.
But if a leader abuses power, how can one NOT use blame?
(Note: some time later, former participants on e-sangha revealed that administration of that venue was having problems.
For more, go here:
And, the more serious the alleged abuses of leadership prerogative and power, the more vigorous and painful the descriptions of the departure from Dharma would be.
So the worse the situation, the more a suffering person would find him or herself muzzled.
This struck me as unsatisfactory. Language is supposed to support us not thwart us.
I reached for a dictionary and looked the definitions of 'blame' in English.
I discovered that in the dictionary there are TWO usages for 'blame' , and that most Buddhist defenitions of right speech defined as 'not to blame' acknowledge only one of the meanings of blame, and ignore the second of the two--leaving a zone of silence, an absence of verbal matching, for a most important matter--harmful abuses of leadership.
The two English language definitions of 'blame' are these:
1) to blame something on
someone--that is to attribute intrinsic fault to
that person, that the person is inherantly bad or unworthy.
2) Blaming a person for
contributing to a pattern of harm--that is blame in the sense of assigning agency or responsiblity to a persons role or actions.
Definition #1 Is by Buddhist guidelines is harmful speech--and forbidden.
Definition #2, seeing that a person (especially a powerholder like Ole) has a role in a chain of cause and effect, such as disrupting relationships between DW and non-DW people--thats definion is ignored
in most descriptions of Right/Wrong speech.
But, I contend that Definition #2 is not wrong speech at all, for real Buddhism Buddhism traces the role of cause and effect in generating suffering..
So, the first definition of 'blame' is the only definition tacitly recognized in most Buddhist definitions of right speech...--both E-sangha, and also in Buddhist cults.
By acknowleding Definition #1 of blame but not acknowledging Definition #2, this leaves no language available by which to attribute responsiblity to a leader for use or abuse of power.
The only language available is to put that responsibility on the students, the underlings--never on the leader.
Or....to identify a person's place in and agency in, a pattern of cause and effect. When someone is a leader, that person has agency and it is entirely appropriate and in line with Dharma to see where that person possesses agency and how that leader is contributing to a distressing chain of cause and effect.
But.. all too often, only the follower's contributions to a bad sitaution are analyzed and spoken of. The leader, the powerholder, always manages to escape scrutiny for his or her contribution to a chain of cause and effect--which is ludicrous, given that leadership means increased agency.
Next , when I read the thread on e-sanga I noticed this:
Two levels of discourse, one for long time members 'in the know' and quite a different much less candid pattern of disclosure when outsiders or new converts arrived for the discussion.
In the dharma discussion on E-sangha I am convinced that what I saw was a pattern in which many persons involved with Ole for years, expressed thoughtful and detailed concerns about the internal affairs of DW and expressed their concerns with great frankness--and a far greater level of detail--than ever took place on RR.com.
But what I found troubling was that the long time DW practitioners who were concerned about Ole and who stated their concerns with great frankness and with specific details but only when talking with other old timers
For--as I read through, the 52 page thread, (which only ended last year), I noticed how quicly the old timers changed thier tones and minimized the significance of what they had previously written
the instant a person arrived who stated that he or she was new to the Dharma.
It reminded me of how grown ups suddenly hush up and stop discussing sensitive topics the instant they see a child walk into the room.
The arrival of someone who identified as a newcomer triggered the troubled old timers to minimize the significance of what they had just said to each other.
They would promptly address the newcomer, minimize what they had just said, becaues they did not want to make the Dharma look bad or discourage the new arrival, thus undercutting their stated concerns.
I had the impression some old time members of DW were in great pain.
Thirty years before, Ole had been instrumental in connecting them with Kagyu Tibetan Buddhism, which they dearly loved, and Ole was one of the very, very few in Europe available to do this, thirty years ago.
To give decades of ones youth and life to the Dharma to the point of sacrificing other options can make it hard to question ones root guru, no matter what troubling mutations have taken place in the mean time. So it may be possible that old timers may fluctuate within themselves feeling great anguish and doubt at how DW is currently being run, and then dread to question the wisdom of decisions they made decades earlier and try to reassure themselves as well as reassuring the newcomers.
This weather vane pattern of disclosure can confuse new arrivals.
(Today many more teachers are available who are far more reliable sources and whose habits and mannerisms are less distracting than Oles.)
So, to re-iterate: What I saw was one level of discourse, and disclosure--very troubled and very frank, amongst the old timers and insiders and then a different level of discourse when the old timers realized they were being visited by newcomers. All at once, they'd turn reassuring, much the way grownups discuss painful and signifcant matters amongst themselves and then with hold or water down that same information when the children show up.
But what I was troubled by was how the old timers blamed Westerners for wanting infantile and easy Dharma--'baby food' as one person put it.
When from my reading of the transcript these old timers were themselves infantalizing
new arrivals by not giving them full disclosure of what the old timers truly found troubling about this organization and its internal affairs.
This 'Two Levels of Disclosure' pattern--one level for old timers and a watered down
level for newbies in which troubling 'family secrets' are concealed or minimized, is to me a pattern that will prevent resolution of the troubles.
(Corboy note: some time later, former participants from e-sangha revealed that venue's administrators were having problems.
For more, go here:
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/22/2018 02:26AM by corboy.