About Abuse and Trauma in Buddhism

Few days ago I was discussing “crazy wisdom” and abuse in buddhism with a friend who wasn’t aware how typical it is and how bad in many cases it has been. I’ve contemplated it since, like I have for many years.

Over the years I have corresponded with a number of victims and survivors of abuse by buddhist teachers, as well as been a member of Association of Victims of Religious Abuse (Uskontojen Uhrit ry) in Finland since the mid 90’s, so I have pretty good idea about the whole thing.

Having been bullied in school myself and having had to live under a threat of violence and verbal abuse for most part of 3 years in higher elementary school, I’ve been sensitive of abusive behaviour. Then when during my practice of dharma, I was verbally abused and publicly shamed by an Indian guru, I’ve become disillusioned about “lineage holders”. After that I started seeing many things in a different light but never doubted the dharma itself, though many victims of abuse do.

It’s a shitty world where samsaric people, some of them lineage holders, do shitty things to each other. These actions have harmful karmic consequences for all involved and in fact harms the reputation of dharma. Some bad gurus think they are enlightened enough, forget about ethics and re-write the rules. They rise high and fall hard in shame, leaving a trail of hurt and devastated disciples some of who never heal of their trauma and who cut their ties to dharma. I think that teachers who intentionally destroy the hearts of their followers are the lowest of the low. They are scum and there is no excuse.

All yoga and dharma should begin and end with the fact that all beings have pure wakeful nature, and that the whole path is about discovering it and the students getting empowered through that. There is no place of giving away of one’s power and independence or worship of guru’s personality in dharma. From the beginning until the end it is a path of self-discovery and accumulation of self-knowledge, helped and supported by a method of practice, and by the community and one’s teacher. To me, both as a student and a teacher, there is nothing more sacred than this.

But to remind how bad things can get, once again, here is the letter long term students sent to Sogyal back in 2017. Since then, Sogyal was widely critisized by various lamas, even by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and was forced to resign from his organisation. He passed away a year or so later due to cancer, or so they said. There are rumours about the way he died.

Have a nice day and let’s keep it real and honest,