Independent Critique of Triratna's Whitewashing Terminology Concerning Sexual Abuse

"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."

Comments

I posted this comment on Tricycle magazine's website some time ago.  It was a late contribution, so no-one saw it - probably - but Tenzin Peljor (aka Tenpel).
It's a pity to waste a comment, and it is a fitting tribute to Tenpel: who has worked tirelessly to expose bogus pseudo-Buddhist sects.
 'Tenpel hits the nail on the head with his concerns about Triratna's so-called Safeguarding official: Munisha.
One aspect of Sangharakshita's ethical misconduct that is less widely known, concerns his wearing of the 'Gold Kesa' , signifying the Brahmacharya vow: which is indicative of celibacy.
As I pointed out, in an article on one of Tenpel's webpages, Sangharakshita was definitely NOT celibate, on the many occasions I saw him give public addresses whilst thus adorned, during the late 1970's and 80's.
In fact, this time-frame, late 70's until mid-80's, was Sr's most sexually active period subsequent to the formation of the FWBO: often with confused and heterosexual young men - hardly 'partners'.
I have seen comments attributed to Munisha that deliberately attempt to confuse the time-frame, with remarks like, ' .... the 1960's were really weird.'
She has also consistently neglected to address the issue, I mentioned above, of the wearing of the Gold Kesa.
In short, Munisha is hopelessly unreliable as an historical resource; a problem that is compounded by the fact that she only became involved with Triratna/FWBO - I am told - in 1991: thus having a totally inadequate personal perspective on historical abuse issues.
To put it bluntly: she is dependent on her seniors for "information" on events prior to her initial FWBO involvement.
The real cancer at the heart of Triratna is the teaching of 'The higher evolution of consciousness'.  This non-Buddhist concept still forms part of the Triratna "education" curriculum, I am told, and underpins the rigid hierarchical structure.
During the late 70's and 80's, the FWBO (as it then was) resembled an old-fashioned English private school, of the type some of the group's leading lights attended: complete with closet homosexuality (a closely guarded secret at the time); 'fagging'; favouritism regarding junior members; and widespread, and sometimes brutal, bullying.
All of this is a consequence of the teaching of 'The higher evolution of consciousness'; the corollary being that abuse is deeply rooted in Triratna culture and teaching; it is systemic: part of Triratna/FWBO's 'DNA blueprint' almost.
It is highly unlikely that someone with the mixed agenda, and very poor historical perspective, of Munisha can make inroads into that - even if she wished to!
I commend Tenpel for his tireless efforts in bringing these painful issues into the public domain.'

 

As a coda to the above comment, I feel obligated to point out that the nonsensical concept of a 'Higher evolution of consciousness' is often re-imagined in other presentations.
The notion of a 'Spiral path' is well known to Triratna-pods past and present.  This is another linear progression: the segments of a spiral form a linear progression provided that they don't interact laterally with segments on adjacent arcs of the spiral.
The 'Supra-personal force' hypothesis is new to me, but requires a pyramidal structure to channel the 'charismatic power' down to those of us unfortunate enough to be languishing in the 'Lower evolution' - according to Triratna ideology!
Finally, there are the deepening levels of 'Going for refuge'.   This aspiration is a genuine Buddhist teaching, but is distorted by Triratna teachers.
In FWBO/ Triratna ideology, there are discrete stages in the 'Going for refuge' that correspond with levels of involvement: 'provisional' for Mitras, 'effective' for ordained members, etc.  So, this again is a linear progression.
Moreover, the objects of reverence are deliberately confused: going for refuge to Sangharakshita, his idiosyncratic teachings and his Order, is NOT the same as the tradition of seeking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.  Whether Sangharakshita deserves a place on the 'Refuge tree' is a moot point!
A few years ago, I heard of instances where Order members were warned, by their so-called Preceptors, that their alleged lack of reverence for Sangharakshita, suggested that they were not 'going for refuge effectively'.
This is deliberate obscuration!  So, the 'Going for refuge' Triratna style is as problematic as the, 'Higher evolution of consciousness', 'Spiral Path' and 'Supra-personal force'  theoretical models.
I would argue that they are different formulations of the same imaginary process.   Why?  Because they all uphold the rigid hierarchical structure of the organisation - the main requirement, I suspect.
Also, perhaps leaving aside the Supra-personal force, they consist of linear stages: a predictable process that can be managed and controlled by Triratna's 'thought police' - the Preceptors.
Hence, they all provide an ideological template for: control, elitism and an artificial hierarchy with no genuine accountability at the highest levels. 
Consequently, they sustain the pyramidal structure that facilitates abusive behaviour: sexual, psychological and emotional.
This is why I believe that abuse is deeply rooted in Triratna ideology, and thus systemic.
I rest my case!

Add new comment