dimanche 17 octobre 2021

Matthieu Ricard sur l'accueil des victimes d'abus sexuel (C à vous)

Matthieu Ricardmoine bouddhistes'exprime sur le rapport Sauvé - C à vous - 18/10/2021

(Transcript de 0:00 - 3:05, mis en gras cursif ajouté par moi)

Journaliste : Vous comprenez cette règle du secret de la confession ?

MR : <soupir> C'est certainement pas à moi de juger. J'ai entendu hier un médecin qui disait que le même secret professionnel du médecin s’arrête lorsqu'il y a un danger, et lorsque il y a des souffrances qui sont en jeu et qu'on pourrait éviter.

Donc, si vous voulez, <sourire gêné> sans le moindre du tout m’immiscer dans ce débat,  je dirais que si notre but ultime est l'amour, la bienveillance et la compassion,  tout ce qui permet d’éviter la souffrance est éminemment désirable.

Je me rappelle que quand Kant disait qu’il ne faut pas détruire la texture de la vérité pour l’humanité toute entière, et que si quelqu’un, un criminel cherche à tuer quelqu’un et le poursuit, et qu’il vous demande par où il est passé, il faudrait dire la vérité. C’est un cas extrême, mais ça me paraît un peu bizarre du point de vue de la compassion.

Donc je pense qu’une éthique incarnée, où vraiment on fait de son mieux pour éviter de la souffrance, c'est personnellement ce qui m'inspire le plus.

Journaliste : La commission Sauvé, dont les conclusions sont sidérantes : entre 2900 et 3200 prêtres pédocriminels qui ont sévi dans l'église de France, depuis près de 70 ans, a soulevé également la question du célibat des prêtres. Est-ce que c'est une question qu'il faut se poser ?

MR : <explique ses raisons personnelles pour son choix du célibat>

(2:15) Journaliste : Mais ce qu’on comprend est que quand ce vœu de chasteté est subi très jeune et comme une contrainte, ça devient un problème.

MR : Si c’est une contrainte, c’est un poids qui se traduit par ce qu’on voit, et ce n’est malheureusement pas l’apanage des communautés chrétiennes, le bouddhisme ne fait pas exception, et dans toutes les communautés humaines, il y a 3% de psychopathes. On voit ça dans l’éducation, dans les familles, en fait le pire c’est presque dans les familles, dans le sport, le spectacle, on en voit en n’en plus finir. Ce qu’il faut, c’est accueillir les victimes, qu’elles ne soient pas laissées pour compte, des structures qui permettent de les guider, de les écouter, en temps utile, pas qu’elles aient besoin d’attendre 20 ans, 30 ans.

Journaliste :  C’est peut-être là où l’église a failli ?

MR : <sourire gêné> Moi je ne peux pas juger... J’ai toujours du mal à dire du mal des autres, mais c’est vrai que dire les choses à temps, être attentif, pleine de bienveillance, et non pas essayer de se protéger d’une façon ou d’une autre.

 ---

Le reste de l’entrevue est consacré à la publication des Mémoires de Matthieu Ricard, la raison de sa fréquentation actuelle des plateaux de France télévision.

***

A relire :

Rappel de la clause de non-responsabilité à Sagesses bouddhistes (20/06/2021) 

En attendant de nouveaux orages ? (12 décembre 2020)

Ce n'est pas une coutume tibétaine... (27 avril 2021)

Cruel indifference (en anglais, 6 octobre 2021) 

jeudi 14 octobre 2021

Sur les intentions des uns et des autres

Message sur Diffi.Cult de Tenzin Peljor

Pour le bouddhisme l'intention détermine le type de karma créé et éprouvé.
" L'intention, je vous le dis, est le kamma. C'est à partir d'une intention qu'une personne crée du kamma en rapport au corps, à la parole, et à l'intellect. " — Nibbedhika Sutta AN 6.63
En théorie, quand nos actes, propos et pensées ont des conséquences, dont on n’avait pas l’intention, le bouddhisme considère qu’aucun karma n’a été créé. Il en va autrement de la notion de responsabilité telle que nous la connaissons.
Les personnes morales de droit public peuvent voir leur responsabilité engagée à l'égard des particuliers ou d'autres collectivités publiques soit pour faute, soit sans faute (responsabilité dite de risque)

Charge entraînant la prise de décisions importantes et obligeant celui qui en est investi à rendre compte de ses actes et de ses résultats à ceux qui la lui ont confié”.
Dans le cas des abus dans l’église catholique de France, celle-ci est tenue responsable des conséquences de ses actions ou omissions d’actions, par le rapport CIASE (dit Sauvé). De nombreuses constatations, conclusions et recommandations que la commission fait à l’église de France pourraient aussi s’appliquer au bouddhisme tibétain, notamment tel qu’il s’enseigne et se pratique en France, sauf qu’il n’y a pas d’église bouddhiste tibétaine en France dont la responsabilité pourrait être engagée.

Il n’y a pas non plus d’église bouddhiste tibétaine dans la communauté des tibétains en exil, avec une responsabilité en la matière, ni de pontife responsable de l’ensemble, surtout si ces intentions sont bonnes... Personne n’est responsable de ce qui s’enseigne, se pratique et se fait sous l’enseigne “bouddhisme tibétain”. Un proverbe tibétain dit : “chaque lama sa religion, chaque région son patois” (tib. bla ma re re chos lugs re// lung pa re re skad lugs re). Il est mal vu entre lamas de se critiquer mutuellement. Le Sūtra du samādhi de la marche héroïque, le Śūraṃgamasamādhi (T642) met en garde contre les jugements hâtifs des comportements de bodhisattva laïques respectés. Quand on n’est pas soi-même un Bouddha, on ne peut pas juger de la réalisation d’un autre, qui pourrait être un bodhisattva de haut niveau pratiquant la marche héroïque (voir mon blog “La précieuse étoffe uniquement visible aux connoisseurs (vaijñānika)”. Ou comme l’a dit récemment encore Lama Zöpa Rinpoche au sujet de Dagri Rinpoche : “We will have to achieve enlightenment in order to investigate the beginningless rebirths of Dagri Rinpoche. We have to be enlightened; otherwise, we can’t investigate. This is my logic.”[1]

Il n’y a donc pas de jugement ou d’évaluation entre lamas, personne n’est rappelée à sa responsabilité, car il n’y en a pas. Si du mauvais karma a été commis, c’est le Karma métaphysique qui s’en chargera. Si chaque lama a sa religion - et du moment qu’un lama est bien affilié à un autre lama et à une lignée - il n’y a pas de bouddhismedévié possible. La lignée et l’affiliation à celle-ci est tout.

Joanne Clark et Tenzin Peljor du site Diffi.Cult ont fait un procès d’intention[2] aux auteurs de l’article Not The Tibetan Way’: The Dalai Lamas Realpolitik Concerning Abusive Teachers, car leur article oublie de mentionner que le Dalaï-lama agit toujours avec de bonnes intentions. Dans un message du 11 octobre 2021[3], Tenzin Peljor invite à faire une distinction a priori entre les bonnes intentions du Dalaï-lama et les éventuelles mauvaises conséquences que pourraient avoir ses actes et prises de parole. Quand le Dalaï-lama invite les victimes/survivants de rendre public les abus qu’ils ont subis (quand leur lama et leur communauté n’a pas voulu les entendre), et qu’ils se trouvent tout seuls à affronter les vagues de critiques des bouddhistes loyalistes, sans soutien du Dalaï-lama ou d’autres porte-paroles du bouddhisme tibétain (où personne n’est responsable), ces conséquences néfastes n’étant pas l’intention du Dalaï-lama, on ne doit pas les lui reprocher… Ce ne serait pas juste.

On ne doit donc pas mettre en doute les bonnes intentions du Dalaï-lama, mais de l’autre côté on ne prête pas de “bonnes” intentions aux victimes/survivants osant prendre la parole en public, ou s’exposer dans un procès, où leurs vies et celles de leurs proches sont passées au peigne fin. Comment une discussion équitable serait-elle alors possible ?

Après la publication du report CIASE (dit Sauvé), nous avons en mains une autre façon bien réfléchie d’aborder les abus commis sous couvert d’une religion. Quelle que soit la doxa du bouddhisme tibétain, de nombreuses constatations, conclusions et recommandations du rapport peuvent très bien s’appliquer aux abus commis dans des communautés BT en France. Peu importe les intentions des représentants du bouddhisme tibétain, ce rapport pourrait bien inspirer une feuille de route pour lutter contre les abus commis dans les communautés, et éviter que ceux-ci se reproduisent.

***

[1] Lama Zopa Rinpoches Advice to Students of Dagri Rinpoche

[2]A Disheartening Article: Stuart Lachs & Rob Hogendoorn on the Dalai Lama

[3] Diffi.Cult, Tenpel on October 11, 2021 at 8:20 pm Reply

"I think it would be helpful for the debate to consider the difference between intention and impact.

While the Dalai Lama likely does not have bad intentions, his acting or non-acting has an impact. It would be good for him as well as the office or the TGI to consider the impact of not having set up a proper structure and good procedures to address abuse.

There is for sure an impact for endorsing Sogyal with the inauguration of the Lerab Ling temple, there is an impact for OKC kids of Spatz’s center being endorsed, there is an impact of leaving the burden to speak up on the survivors. I think such considerations and reminding the difference between impact and intention could really help the discussion and bring it forward.

While Joanne or I (maybe others’s too) seem to focus on the intentions, critical voices or critical survivors stress the impact. Stressing the impact is an important, a very important point
."

https://buddhism-controversy-blog.com/2021/10/04/a-disheartening-article-stuart-lachs-rob-hogendoorn-on-the-dalai-lama/#comment-736844

mercredi 13 octobre 2021

The patriarchal model as a primary suspect?

Article de Jean-Loup Adenor dans Marianne

I just read the article “Le disciple d'un gourou New Age mis en examen pour des agressions sexuelles sur huit victimes” by Jean-Loup Adenor, published in Marianne on May, 27th 2021.

It’s quite good and factual, but what struck me while reading it was the editing line in which Lama Kunzang Dorje (Robert Spatz) is presented as a “New Age Guru”, whose principles are those of a “Buddhism deviated to his own glory[1].

The article explains that the “liberalisation of morals” and the popularity of “orientalism” (especially Buddhism) in the aftermath of the May 68 unrest created the context in which the abuse could take place[2]. “New forms of spirituality” appear, that seem acceptable because “the figure of the Dalaï-lama is reassuring[3]. Lama Kunzang Dorje is also referred to as the “lama[4], as if he weren’t a genuine lama, i.e. a lama considered as such by Tibetan hierarchs.

The article finishes by stating that other court cases will be filed against Robert Spatz and the OKC organisation. OKC is short for Ogyen Kunzang Choling, both the name of the organisation when it was directed by Robert Spatz and the current organisation under the direction of Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche, abbot of Shechen Nepal, and Pema Wangyal Rinpoche, a son of the founder Kangyur Rinpoche. The website of the current organisation doesn’t seem to consider “Lama Kunzang[5] as a “New Age Guru” teaching a “deviated Buddhism”.

I don’t know who decided on this “New Age” editing line. It seems to me that what Lama Kunzang was teaching was Nyingma Buddhism, as he learned it from his teachers, and as he understood it. Was his Buddhism more deviated than that of Chogyam Trungpa or Sogyal Lakar? Both the Buddhism taught in Vajradhatu/Shambala and Rigpa is still considered as Buddhism and endorsed as such by Tibetan hierarchs. OKC and Lama Kunzang were and are still endorsed as a Buddhist center and a Buddhist teacher. Notwithstanding the fact that those three forms of Buddhism do look like New Age religions and that all three had issues with abuse. Condemnations have been pronounced for two of them. Sogyal Lakar’s Rigpa is still under investigation and a Report has been published about the allegations. In France, a Bhutanese lama and retreat instructor, Lama Tempa (Karma Tshojay) of Kagyu Ling in Bourgogne, was condemned to 12 years prison for rape and sexual aggression on four women.

New Age” and “new forms of spirituality” in the aftermath of May 68 don’t seem like an obvious explanation for the cases of abuse in these four Buddhist centers. For Tibetan hierarchs these centers and their teachers are/were authentically Buddhist. They even issued letters to prove so.

In the complete CIASE report about Sexual Violence in the Catholic Church France 1950 – 2020, we find the following paragraph:
§0617 En particulier, les abus sexuels sont plus fréquents dans le cadre de l’Église catholique que dans d’autres instances de socialisation non familiales ou amicales, comme les colonies, camps de vacances et centres aérés (0,36 %), l’Éducation nationale (0,34 %)140, les clubs de sport (0,28 %) ou encore dans le cadre d’activités culturelles et artistiques (0,17 %). La conclusion qu’il est possible d’en tirer au plan sociologique est que les deux institutions qui fonctionnent sur un modèle patriarcal, revendiqué dans le cas de l’Église, implicite dans celui de la famille, favorisent l’exposition des personnes socialement « dominées », que sont les femmes et les enfants, aux violences masculines[6].”
Like the Catholic Church, Tibetan Buddhism is very clearly a patriarchal religion, no matter the adoration of female deities and yoginis in its tantric forms, and therefore is likely to “favour the exposure of socially 'dominated' people, such as women and children, to male violence”. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Catholicism, Buddhism, or a New Age religion, if it operates on a patriarchal model (with a priest, Guru, lama, ...), there is a fair chance abuse may take place.

It’s not about specific lama’s, or their Western disciples, being “rotten apples”, nor about their respective deviated doctrines, but if the (religious) community operates on a patriarchal model, like in some families, abuse may be favored or be more likely to take place.

The TB relation between a teacher and a student (guruvāda) can be a supplementary risk factor. One should not forget that a teacher most often doesn’t have one single student, but a group of students, with the same guruvādin link to the teacher, plus a “samaya” link between students. The relationship is not only with the teacher, but with a whole group of initiates. Secrecy is an important part of vajrayāna and can be made use of by a predator.

Accentuating the importance of picking the right lama, is to be blind to what really goes on in a TB community. If it’s not the guru, it can be one of the educators, or one of the other students of the guru, as in the case of the above mentioned article. It’s about the community and its patriarchal (religious) model. The obligation to secrecy and the commitment to the guru and the gurukula, favor secrecy and denial and create a bigger barrier for whistle-blowers.

***

[1]Le disciple d'un gourou New Age mis en examen pour des agressions sexuelles sur huit victimes”
“Les enfants doivent y recevoir une éducation conforme aux principes de Spatz, un bouddhisme dévoyé à sa seule gloire
.”

[2]Pour comprendre ces dérives, il faut se replacer dans le contexte de la fin des années 60. La société française traverse une période de libéralisation des mœurs, c'est l'arrivée en France du New Age, baigné d'orientalisme et notamment du bouddhisme.”

[3]À l’époque, ce sont de nouvelles formes de spiritualité dont personne ne se méfie vraiment car la figure du dalaï-lama rassure.”

[4]Le « lama », qui n'a assisté à aucun de ses procès, est condamné à cinq ans de prison avec sursis.”

[5]Conformément aux vœux de ce grand maître, Lama Kunzang, un de ses disciples d’Occident, fonda en 1972 à Bruxelles le centre d’études tibétaines Ogyen Kunzang Chöling, grâce à l’appui et aux conseils du fils aîné de Kangyour Rinpotché, Tsétrul Péma Wangyal Rinpotché.”

Après le parinirvana de Kangyour Rinpotché, survenu en 1975, ce sont Kyabjé Dudjom Rinpotché et Kyabjé Dilgo Khyentsé Rinpotché qui ont assumé la direction spirituelle des centres Ogyen Kunzang Chöling, qu’ils ont visités et dans lesquels ils ont enseigné à plusieurs reprises.

Depuis le départ de Kyabjé Dilgo Khyentsé Rinpotché en 1991, Ogyen Kunzang Chöling s’est placée sous l’autorité spirituelle de son petit-fils et successeur Shétchen Rabjam Rinpotché, abbé du monastère de Shétchen, ainsi que de Péma Wangyal Rinpotché
.” OKC-net

[6] Automatic translation :

“§0617 In particular, sexual abuse is more frequent in the Catholic Church than in other non-family or friendly socialisation settings, such as camps, holiday camps and leisure centres (0.36%), national education (0.34%)140 , sports clubs (0.28%) or cultural and artistic activities (0.17%). The sociological conclusion that can be drawn from this is that the two institutions that operate on a patriarchal model, which is asserted in the case of the Church and implicit in the case of the family, favour the exposure of socially 'dominated' people, such as women and children, to male violence.”

dimanche 10 octobre 2021

On Loyalists and "Criticalists"


In my blog on Diffi.Cult I made a distinction between what I called “loyalist” TB’s and “critical voices” (not “criticalists”, I didn’t use that term). In my blog, the “loyalists” are those who defend Tibetan masters (in spite of the allegations and/or facts) and Tibetan Buddhism on an as-is basis, and may contribute to the silence and denial by ostracizing and criticizing or credentialing critical voices.

Here’s just a quick and dirty brainstorming in blogging style, it’s not an “article”, like none of my blogs are. I prefer to answer here rather than on Twitter where I can’t develop my arguments as I would like to (limited number of signs).

The “critical voices” are not critical for the sake of it. They may be victims/survivors of abusing lama’s and their communities, and those supporting victims/survivors by participating on forums, writing articles, books, blogs, etc. Other “critical voices” may be journalists, academics (buddhologists, tibetologists, anthropologists, sociologists, etc.) who may write directly or indirectly on the topic of abuse in (Tibetan) Buddhist communities with more distance and objectivity.

The “critical voice” of victims/survivors may not be intentionally critical. It’s their allegations that are already implicitly critical because they go against the (until recently) generally accepted positive image of TB lama’s and their institutions in general and that of the Dalaï-Lama in particular, including in the media and social networks.

In order to be audible the “critical voice” of victims/survivors first has to overcome the spiritual and psychological barrier of the victim/survivor’s beliefs, engagement, shame, fear, etc. Once the victim/survivor makes the allegations public in their community, the “critical voice” has to overcome the first “loyalist” barrier. How will the community react to the allegations? The victim/survivor may be the object of all sorts of pressure, including exclusion from the community (among which their friends). If the community doesn’t want to acknowledge what the “critical voice” has to say, and the victim/survivor still wants it to be heard and acknowledged, it will have to go public (“make public!”) outside of the community. I am not talking here about clearly criminal acts, where other barriers will have to be overcome.

If a victim/survivor goes public (as the Dalaï-Lama advises them), then they will become a victim/survivor in the public eye, quite a barrier to cross… The “critical voice” then even exposes itself to charges of slander etc. “Loyalist” Buddhists will do their best to decredibilise or reduce the effect of the “critical voice”. They may attribute all sorts of excessive emotions (anger, resentment, jealousy, etc.) to the victim/survivor and go as far as to call the victim/survivor a mentally ill person (almost a classic). They may put forward all the good done by the lama against whom allegations have been brought forward (“But he’s a saint”[1]).

Sometimes, the goodwill of a “great teacher”, built over many years, may be very powerful, and have public opinion on its side. Sogyal Lakar had celebrities, politicians, the Dalaï-Lama etc. supporting (=implicitly endorsing) his activity.

Considering the difficulty of often pretty lonely “critical voices” to be heard and acknowledged and the relatively great ease of following a “loyalist” Buddhist line, if one wants to offer/be a support to the “critical voice” of victims/survivors, one may have to give some priority to “critical voices”, so at least they can be heard, and the readers may reflect on their own on what is said. Instead of yet pulling up another barrier of “objectivity” of a middle position: we listen to the “critical voice” of the victim/survivor (that had to overcome many barriers), but we also listen to what the “loyalist” Buddhist voice has to say: the generally accepted positive image of TB and the Dalaï-Lama, repeated over and over again in the media and on social networks.

If the “critical voice” is heard and acknowledged, it will cause “a scandal”, and there will be debate, perhaps action, perhaps improvement… If the “loyalist” voice is followed, then the “critical voice” disappears in thin air, the victim/survivor will be stigmatised, excluded etc., and future victims/survivors will be dissuaded from making their “critical voice” heard.

What is the advantage of “objectivity” in this domain and what are the advantages of listening to “critical voices”? Does Buddhism want its adepts to think and listen to “critical voices” or to simply follow the party line with business as usual?

***

[1]I want to say that I am deeply sorry about all the people who got hurt from Rinpoche’s holy actions.”
We will have to achieve enlightenment in order to investigate the beginningless rebirths of Dagri Rinpoche. We have to be enlightened; otherwise, we can’t investigate. This is my logic.”
Letters by Zöpa Rinpoché in support of Dagri Rinpoche.

jeudi 7 octobre 2021

Diffi.Cult


I discovered Tenzin Peljor’s blog (buddhism-controversy-blog, Diffi.Cult) in the aftermath of the Sogyal Lakar/Rigpa affair in summer 2017, as one of the websites where (ex-)students having difficulties with the cultish aspects of the communities they were involved in could express their concerns and exchange with others.

Tenzin Peljor being a fully ordained Gelukpa monk (by the Dalaï-Lama), criticism of Tibetan Buddhism and of its teachers is rather limited, in the sense that the consensus of the publications, exchanges and moderation seems to be one going into the direction of furthering the relations with Tibetan Buddhism and its teachers on an as-is basis, sometimes even with teachers that allegedly abused students, and/or with their continuing communities.
Realising gradually that Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan culture are extremely complex and have far more difficult issues than the Shugden controversy, a year after I posted an critical post about the silence of Tibetan Buddhists with respect to the abuse allegations against Sogyal Lakar in March 2012, Sogyal Rinpoche and the Silence of the Tibetan Buddhist Community and the Dalai Lama, I renamed this blog in July 2013 to http://buddhism-controversy-blog.com and the title “Tibetan Buddhism – Struggling With Diffi·Cult Issues”.” (Diffi.Cult, About section)
One generally shared approach of contributors to Diffi.Cult could be resumed under the motto “separate the artist from his/her work”, i.e. the work can be the work of genius, but the artist may be clad with issues. One could add to this motto “separate the leader from his/her organisation”. The leader may be compromised, but his/her organisation can continue just like before, with some minor changes, or perhaps a deontology charter and internal psychological help providers. Another fixed idea seems to be that one ought to consider both the bad and good things a teacher does/did, even if the bad things include the recurrent abuse of students. Nobody is perfect. Some students may have been abused, but many other students (a "silent majority"?) perhaps found “benefit” in the teachings of compromised teachers. A concrete consequence of the latter idea is that when discussing compromised teachers, one should not forget they may have benefited many.

When I became aware of this blog (end 2017), there were sometimes vivid discussions, in which sometimes victims/survivors participated. Some of them really couldn’t (trauma triggers) / didn’t want to continue with Tibetan Buddhism, thereby going against the general consensus (see above). These voices seem to have died out in the more recent years. The authors of Sex and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism (Mary Finnigan and Rob Hogendoorn) also sometimes participated in these discussions, but they too have disappeared after often heated exchanges. Once the more critical voices of TB had left this forum, the general consensus thickened. The only heated discussions now are with let’s call them loyalist TB’s, who may blame Tenzin Peljor and guest writer Joanne Clark for these topics to be even discussed (breaking the silence) and for allowing allegations against their Tibetan teachers to be put forward and to get attention.

The Diffi.Cult website seemed to want to take a sort of middle position between two fires (critical and loyalist). With the disappearance of the more critical voices and the multiplication of allegations against Tibetan teachers, sometimes major ones, the fire now merely seems to come from the loyalist side. If Diffi.Cult wants to stick to a middle position, the repeated loyalist attacks could have as a result to pull the general consensus a bit more to the loyalist side, in the absence of the once more critical voices.

It seems to me that this is what’s happening with the publication of a guest post by Joanne Clark, “A Disheartening Article: Stuart Lachs & Rob Hogendoorn on the Dalai Lama”. The two authors of this critical article on the Dalaï-Lama, which both Joanne Clark and Tenzin Peljor admit not having read in its entirety[1], are reproved for not having considered “any spiritual dimension that might have informed the Dalai Lama’s motivations and actions[2]” in their article, even though his spiritual qualities are well known and very often repeated in the media without the negative counterparts. No objection there it seems. There also is such a thing as a reading grid, to make certain things more apparent that would otherwise be left out.  

Tenzin Peljor writes :
Spiritual values, which guide the Dalai Lama’s verbal and bodily actions, are easily overlooked and cannot be seen and understood by people who look on him from a merely mundane-political perspective. Looking through a black-and-white ideological lens on a complex and very colourful figure like the Dalai Lama can only taint one’s examinations and conclusions.”
The Dalaï-lama is both an individual (Tenzin Gyamtso) and an institution with an Office. The only Dalaï-Lama most Westerners, including Western Tibetan Buddhists, have access to is the Dalaï-Lama as the institution, who may choose to communicate in very personal pleasant and human ways, like any celebrity. We don’t know Tenzin Gyamtso’s spiritual dimension behind the motivations and actions of the Dalaï-Lama, and we don’t have to know. But he seems like a warm person.

All we can know and can go by are his words, actions … and also the things the Dalaï-Lama keeps silent on and doesn’t act upon.

Joanne Clark takes issue with the authors’ coldish treatment of the Dalaï-Lamas siding with Thatcher and Bush against Augusto Pinochet’s extradition for trial on charges of human rights violations, in which the genuine compassion of the individual behind the Dalaï-lama[3] may have been overlooked. I wouldn’t be surprised that even among those who wanted Pinochet judged for his crimes some may also have had a “spiritual dimension” and felt compassion for the dictator, but that didn’t stop them from claiming justice for the victims. If Pinochet deserved our compassion in action, what other criminals and dictators deserve for the world to speak out for them and to not trial them? If one wants to claim compassion for one individual, albeit a dictator, why not claim compassion and forgiveness for all? What made the case of Pinochet so special?

In the discussion that follows the guest post, Joanne Clark (an ex-disciple of Sogyal Lakar) goes back to the Sogyal Lakar case, and specifically to Mary Finnegan’s and Rob Hogendoorn’s book Sex and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism, in order to set some things straight in order “to keep up a spirit of staying close to facts and truth as we know them”. 

I will spare you the details, but my point here is that if one wants victims and survivors of Buddhist cults or cultish organisations to speak out, it would be good to listen to what they have to say, without distributing compassion points to some and decredibilising others. The same goes for well informed and researched articles with a critical reading grid.

The head of the Sauvé report on abuse by the French Catholic Church talked about the “cruel indifference” of the Church until 2000. The report had been commissioned by the French conference of bishops (not the pope or a pope, but men of good will one could say) three years ago. No matter whether it was out of “compassion” or the Church’s own interest. The damning report is there and hopefully it will lead to concrete measures. The Dalaï-Lama, filled to the brim with compassion (who knows), didn’t take any action regarding abuse (East and West) in Tibetan Buddhism. Loyalist Buddhists like to point out this is because of his lack of power[4], that the Dalaï-Lama is not a pope, that the abuse of Western students takes merely place in the West and is therefore something for Westerners to deal with. In that case, who is to deal with the abuse taking place in and outside TB monasteries by members of the Sangha in India and elsewhere?

In spite of not being the Tibetan Buddhist pope, the Dalaï-Lama met in 2018 with a delegation of Western victims/survivors and promised them he would put the topic on the agenda of the next meeting between Tibetan religious leaders. For lack of a pope, a decision by all Tibetan religious leaders would have looked pretty hopeful. But the meeting was postponed and even though other meetings did take place (Covid helping), this topic has sine dei disappeared from the agenda, regardless of the Dalaï-Lama’s or the other Tibetan hierarchs’ spiritual dimension.

I am not sure that criticizing those who criticize the Dalaï-Lama and Tibetan Buddhism (including for their previous works on Sogyal...)  and trying to find excuses for the lack of action regarding abuse (“cruel indifference”) will help making victims and survivors feel safe and understood and more critical voices feel welcome on Diffi.Cult.

For the thorough research (whether one likes the outcome or not) by Stuart Lachs & Rob Hogendoorn: 

For disheartening blogs (in French) :

Tentative de clarification 30 septembre 2018
Ce n'est pas une coutume tibétaine... 27 avril 2021
"C'est dur d'être aimé par les cons" 3 décembre 2020
Les racines néolibérales de la compassiologie 10 décembre 2020   

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[1]I have a confession. I have not investigated this entire article line by line, nor checked all the sources, primarily because most of them are very difficult to access. Doing so would demand a great investment of time and stamina—and I have seen enough distortion in the sourcing and enough of the non-contextual approach to their evidence and argument to distrust the authors’ conclusions.’ Joanne Clark
'So far I didn’t read the article by Rob and Stuart in all its details. (…) After having glanced through Stuart’s and Rob’s article, I agree with Joanne, the complex spiritual and cultural motivations, intentions and values the Dalai Lama holds and is committed to as a Buddhist monk and as a deep admirer and follower of the altruistic Bodhisattva path – which guide his mental, verbal and physical actions – seem to have been ignored in this article.’ Tenzin Peljor

[2]Any spiritual dimension that might have informed the Dalai Lama’s motivations and actions are sadly not considered in this article. That is a big missing piece in their case in my opinion.”

[3] "in the Pinochet case, as an individual, now old," it might be best to forgive him, the Nobel laureate told reporters in Santiago. "I think forgiveness is important, but forgiveness does not mean to forget about what happened." CBC News

[4]Anyone who has followed the Dalai Lama and understands the history and culture and religious significance of Tibetan lineages and power dynamics would know that such a provocative suggestion (particularly in 1989)—asking if he would “accept a position as head of all the lineages, like a pope”—would likely trigger a strong reaction from him, a need to quickly quell such a suggestion. His Holiness’ response must be viewed within that context, with that powerful nuance—which is a different perspective than if we thought the context was the much milder, non-provocative one created by Lachs and Hogendoorn.”

mercredi 6 octobre 2021

Cruel indifference

Cover of the CIASE's report 
(in French, English translation to follow later in the year)

The head [Jean-Marc Sauvé] of an independent commission investigating child sexual abuse in the French Catholic church has said about 3,000 paedophiles have operated inside the institution since 1950.” (The Guardian, 3 Oct 2021)
Mr. Sauvé declared the Catholic Church’s attitude until app. 2000 was “a cruel indifference towards victims[1]. The investigation had been ordered three years ago by the French conference of bishops. Until 2000, the abuse was made possible by a "veil of silence" and denial.
The report found the huge scale of sexual abuse in the Catholic church was higher than in other institutions such as state schools, holiday camps and sporting organisations. “The Catholic church is, after the circle of family and friends, the environment that has the highest prevalence of sexual violence,” the report said.” (The Guardian, 5 Oct. 2021)
(by courtesy of the buddhism-controversy-blog
"hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing")

Sexual abuse and abuse of power in general happen in every society and on all levels of society. It also happens in Buddhism, in Buddhist monasteries, in Buddhist centers and communities, both in the West and the East, without distinction. Summer 2017 could have been a turning point with the Dalaï-Lama’s ‘Sogyal Rinpoche; my very good friend, but he’s disgraced’.

Whatever the precise meaning of that sentence (how and by whom he was disgraced is unclear), it wasn’t a moment where the leaders of Tibetan Buddhism decided to finally do something about a recurring problem in the West. “The veil of silence” is still in place. Rigpa commissioned “an independent investigation into the allegations” (Karen Baxter, Partner, Lewis Silkin LLP) and a report was published with findings and recommendations (English, French, and German). AFAIK not a single Tibetan religious leader has commented on it (drop a comment if you know of one). Tibetan Buddhists will have to make do with this enigmatic little soundbite of the Dalaï-Lama.

There hasn’t been anything more, apart from the promise made in fall 2018 to a delegation of survivors of TB masters that the topic were to be discussed during a meeting of all the Tibetan religious leaders. This discussion never took place. The only recommendation made by Tibetan hierarchs and their agents is to thoroughly investigate a teacher before one gets involved, because “authentic teachers are as rare as stars by daylight”.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg, it merely concerns abuse of power (including sexual abuse) in Western Tibetan Buddhist circles. Not much is known about abuse in (Tibetan) Buddhist monasteries, and only indirectly, but it’s very much present. It needed the confessions of a well known tulkou in the West, to become aware of it (again). AFIK no investigation took place after his confessions. I have been told one of the rapist monks was expelled and two others were placed in a different monastery (just like the Catholic Church used to do in the past).

The Catholic Church in France didn’t have the choice to not commission an independent investigation, but it genuinely seemed to want to know what happened. Hopefully, the recommendations that were made will be respected and followed up. Also hopefully other religious communities will have the same courage to know and to do something about it. It’s not like the problems are not there as long as they haven’t been properly investigated and reports haven't been published with recommendations.

If eliminating suffering AND the causes of suffering, and compassion really mean something in Buddhism, one would expect Buddhist leaders to want to know about suffering in their communities, so they can do something about the causes of this particularly traumatic form of suffering. Is it merely a question of denial (voluntary ignorance "avidyā")? Lack of courage? Can a bodhisattva lack courage (Sapere aude)? Meanwhile the abuse continues, the suffering and the traumas continue, where the abused sometimes become abusers themselves… What purpose do such sacrifices serve?

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Sauvé's formula "cruel indifference" seems also to be in reaction to the formula "saint indifférence", where the will of the individual is substituted by God's will.


[1]The president of the investigative committee, Jean-Marc Sauvé, told a press conference: “Until the early 2000s the Catholic church showed a profound and even cruel indifference towards the victims.” The Guardian 5 Oct 2021