In this post Mark Dunlop replies to criticism of why he has not been able to "move on" from the traumatic experience he underwent while living with and being sexually manipulated by Sangharakshita in his early 20s. It is clear in Mark's account that it is not only the betrayal of his spiritual aspirations by Sangharakshita that has proven difficult to come to terms with, but also the betrayal by those in Triratna who were supposed to be his friends but who consistently disregarded, downplayed or denied his experience, that has proven so damaging.
Sexual Abuse & Misconduct
College members, appointed to their positions for life by their peers, lack the accountability that was lacking in the case of the charismatic founder. Since any procedures or mechanisms aimed at ensuring accountability are devised by the College and are overseen by College members, it is impossible to ensure any kind of impartial review of their conduct. There is little inclination for those benefiting from the charisma of office to introduce lego-rational measures that might hold them accountable to insiders (much less outsiders) or to entertain any shrinkage of their role -- a role that, due to the mythmaking that surrounds them, only they are thought capable of fulfilling.
In his memoir, Sangharakshita offers no hint of apology or remorse for his behaviour towards me. Looking back over my time in the FWBO (now called Triratna), it has been quite a shock to me to realise how cold hearted, devious and manipulative some people can be, even when they are people claiming to practise an ethical and spiritual way of life. Sangharakshita’s behaviour seems consistent with what I have subsequently learned about the behaviour of narcissists and psychopaths.
Since Sangharakshita has not felt obliged to faithfully communicate what the Buddha taught, there has been plenty of room for Sangharakshita’s teaching to be influenced by his tastes and desires, to the point where it often takes leave of the Buddhist tradition altogether and cannot make any claim to be an expression of the Dharma.
"At the DBU member congregation at the end of April 2018 in Germany, Munisha, who was invited officially by the DBU council to teach on Safeguarding, introduced herself as a Safeguarding Officer of Triratna, while in fact she spoke more from the perspective of a PR spokesperson of the Triratna Buddhist Order (TBO). She basically whitewashed the history of the TBO, making the audience at one point even laugh about the victims whom she called “lovers”. The audience laughed when Munisha presented in a slide the record that Sangharakshita had 1.41 “lovers per year”. The pain of those whose faith and openness, whose spiritual quest has been betrayed must exist in another world – far far away or somewhere in this number 1.41. Munisha used a language that not only sought to normalise abuse but to deflect the audience’s attention from it . . . As a witness with some background knowledge, I found Munisha’s entire presentation an ugly feat of whitewashing and propaganda which really caused me pain just hearing it."
In 1987 the then Vajrakumara (Mark Dunlop) wrote a letter to the order gazette exposing Sangharakshita's sexually abusive actions toward him over a number of years. At this time there was little interest in Mark's allegations and no action was taken. Mark, fearing Sangharakshita would continue to engage in abusive behaviour with other young men, said his next step would be to talk to the press. At this point Sangharakshita expelled him from the order.
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.