I left after two years

I have spent 2 years practising with Triratna in the UK, and have finally walked away after months of deliberations.

I was aware of Sangharakshita's controversy early in, yet ignored it as there were no other reliable outlets for practice. This was regrettable and ignorant, and after researching more deeply I came to realise just how corrupted the teachings have become, unreliable and how rigid the minds of those involved are. I began to see the personality cult blossom more and more. Ironically as my practice deepened it pushed me further away from Triratna as I started to comprehend the teachings much more intuitively and viscerally.

I feel appalled at the misinformation spread, reverence for Sangharakshita and sheer ignorance of order members. Below I’ll outline my primary concerns:

First and foremost; the ordained members. An unbelievable array of people completely unsuitable for teaching. I met many with severe mental health issues who were very unstable, many who wore their title as an egoic badge of honour, and even most surprising a member who confessed he did not actually believe all that much in what he was teaching; and this was a more experienced member. Teachings at Sangha night events were muddled and conflicted, with them announcing that they didn’t actually understand what they were sharing, but they blindly believed every word of Sangharakshita as gospel.

When I asked a member what his opinion was on the allegations against Sangharakshita, he was very flippant and downplayed it as a minor triviality. I responded that it was a much more serious affair and that abuse was most appropriate word to use, rather than a misdemeanour which he labelled it as. He apologised, and then surprised me further by saying he doesn’t actually know, that he doesn’t really think much on his own opinions and beliefs, which shocked me as this was someone deep into the contemplative life. On further encounters I questioned his beliefs, he would make word soup statements which were sweet to the ears yet lacking in substance, and upon enquiring if he could expand on his views he would recede and confess he couldn’t.

I felt disgusted that the history of Triratna was withheld until newcomers had finished the course, when they would announce it during one of the first sangha nights they would attend. It felt cruel and inconsiderate, 8-12 weeks invested to be told once in the doors the nature of the system, which again was very much downplayed.

Discussion groups were unmoderated by order members and I was involved with group talks which the unordained leaders would spread misinformation or misinterpret the talks, and I felt dismissed when challenging these ideas. It seems the primary message many have taken in is an idea of a happy shiny toxically positive path in which if you were experiencing challenging emotions, you were probably on the wrong track.

Mental health safeguarding was terrible. One person was experiencing a severe crisis, suicidal. The centre supported him, however I was horrified to see that they allowed him to attend a weekend retreat soon after, where he clearly looked very unwell and in the wrong environment. Many people were clearly attending with intentions of curing deeper psychological scars and finding themselves exacerbated by meditations and left very unsupported. It felt very much like the blind leading the blind. The lack of any reliable teachers at the centre was very obvious.

The system of ordination was broken, and I came to learn darker secrets of how it was used as a means of exploitative labour in its early days, with Windhorse Trading being a primary route for being recommended for ordination. It was a carrot that was dangled, and I also learnt that Indian members would travel overseas and were exploited also.

There were and are good people at the centre. I had positive experiences and made great friends. However as a Buddhist movement, it is deeply flawed. It felt more like a Buddhist fan club, a good place to get started with the foundations, however there was a very distinct cut off point in which I walked away when I realised I had no time to salvage through the wreck which was Sangharakshita's egoic playhouse. I couldn’t trust anything he said, and there was knowledge and wisdom in his words at times but I just had to discard it all because it would have been exhausting to fact check everything. Misquotes and misinterpretations were rife, a broken amalgamation of 5 different branches of Buddhism pick and mixed. The western pursuit of happiness was very much hidden underneath the presentation of a radical movement of integrating Eastern teachings to the West. It was all smoke and mirrors.

I could surely write so much more but these are my primary concerns and experiences. Great place to meet friends and fellow seekers, just so long as they weren’t people who had already been washed into the system of conformity and cohesion to a shoddy spiritual salesman and schismatic who tried to play Buddha for all the adoration and reverence which came from that. 

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