As was clear in Sangharakshita’s own life, his underlying desire for sex was never adequately addressed and a consequence of this is that it did indeed lead to suffering, for himself and for his partners and now due to recurring media exposure, the wider Triratna sangha. We would like to know why, if a retreat led by teaching couples gives the wrong impression, what kind of impression does it give for the founder of a new Buddhist order to sexually manipulate his disciples? This is the real issue.
Cult Psychology & Dynamics
Buddhist teachings specifically forbid sexual misconduct. In Triratna, Lingwood did not deny that he was having sexual relations with young men, but he also justified what he was doing by saying that it was a temporary “experimentation” with different forms of communication. However, the abuse went on for many years and during this time, Lingwood would wear the traditional orange robes of a celibate monk.
A fascinating in-depth conversation between Alexandra Stein and Chris Shelton on the subject of Steins academic paper, 'Love, Terror and Brainwashing'. Drawing on their personal experiences in different political or religious cults, they discuss the particular dynamics of what attracts, hoodwinks and binds people to high demand groups (or 'cults') and what can help people recover.
The Order depicted in this paper, and in the papers that have followed it, is very different from the Order I was told I was joining in 1993. In particular, the Order's relationship to Bhante, as portrayed in these papers, is fundamentally different from what I was led to believe when I was Ordained. This is not just the natural and organic development of what went before - it is, in some respects, a direct reversal of key principles that I had signed up to.
"But beware—it may not be what it appears. An isolating group led by a charismatic authoritarian leader . . . can cause most of us to lose our minds."
An article by a prominent Western Buddhist, investigating the unusual emphasis placed by Triratna on Sangharakshita, with its attendant dangers.
After leaving the New Kamdampa Tradition, psychologist Dr Michelle Haslam was involved with Triratna – the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order. She shares insights into her time with both of these groups.