The Natural Dharma Fellowship
Two noted western women, Lama Willa Miller, and Lama Elizabeth Monson who did the traditional Buddhist three year retreat and identify as survivors of Lama abuse/ misconduct have started their own ethics based community called the Natural Dharma Fellowship. I’m overjoyed to see these wisdom women rising, and voices *not silenced,* and yet still keep our tradition in a more updated, modern, transparent way. They hold strict codes of conduct and emphasize deep personal and social change. Our Dharma tradition, any religion like the Catholics, can’t be used anymore to cloak sexual misconduct, abuse of women and children or a vehicle for control and violence under some excuse of “crazy purifying wisdom.” We see these women-empowered, goddess rising groups everywhere now. I heard it was predicted that in the future, women would save the dharma and have the most accomplishment. It’s amazing, it heals and warms my heart to live to see this!
Evidence based Dharma, Dharma based on rational thought, not magical thinking, check it out: https://secularbuddhism.com/books/
Repost from Reddit about Shambhala/ Lamaism
We were told by the Shambhala administration that the dharma community was intended not for the students, but to support the teachers and lineage, exclusively. We are having an international cold ground war now of power and control, lead by the voices of women who have exposed the exploitation of women, children and control under the trust and auspices of religion. These orthodox, exploitative powers that be are unwilling to change and grow into modern times, and clean up ethics and misconduct issues, and rather, counter blame and ‘shun’ the whistle blowers, classic #metoo mistreatment. In this age of transparency and change, many of us have had quite enough abuse and silencing.
People come to practice generally, because they are in pain and long for something deeper. Once we learn these powerful techniques like calm abiding, forgiveness, real open heart, they really truly can have an impact on society, child raising, politics, the pure Dharma for me is invaluable.
Furthermore, now that it’s all been exposed, no one is going to “sign up” for an unbreakable vow based, “dangerous” path where you are firstly magnetized by the warmth of a teacher or community and later told well now, you are oath bound and can never leave, or speak out, even with abuse, and if you do, there are 16 hells and one special hell for you. It’s grooming, entrapment and clear established cult tactics, no matter what the tantras say, it’s ludicrous, and its not in accord with my understanding of reality as a rationalist or a person thats done a lot of retreat. This concern extends to any Vajrayana community, no student should feel owned and afraid to leave, lest they are spirituality punished.
However, we are all still here and many of us were lied to. I think we all as westerners are deeply questioning some of the tenets we ascribed to and for me, I’m exploring Secular Buddhism more. There is no afterlife punishment, no binding to a Guru, its rational, evidence based science Dharma, insight and gnosis that comes from our own personal experiences over doctrine, the way I believe the Buddha originally intended. I came for simplicity, leaving behind heavy handed morally punitive, hell based religion, and in Tibetan Buddhism, eventually found, even more harshness and punishment. We traded one hell for 18! It’s insane really and time to go back to basics. This is the very Revolution from the misogynistic “Lama Corruption” that the Dalai Lama himself is asking for, he calls out how we are *NOT* owned by a teacher. We should question them and reincarnation, Tulkus etc., and I think concurs with everything said here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wP4rsM7AZQ&feature=emb_logo
I propose that those of us left, who still want to practice, the refugees, consider exploring Secular Buddhism, and maybe we can reform a better way with these tenets? I foresee the closing or rebranding of Dharma Centers being replaced with a truly secular, inclusive, expanding and open community, the way that the vision of benefit, was imparted to us.
“Secular Buddhism—sometimes also referred to as agnostic Buddhism, Buddhist agnosticism, agnostic Buddhism, atheistic Buddhism, pragmatic Buddhism, Buddhist atheism, or Buddhist secularism—is a broad term for an emerging form of Buddhism and secular spirituality that is based on humanist, skeptical, and/or agnostic values, as well as pragmatism and naturalism, rather than religious beliefs. Secular Buddhists interpret the teachings of the Buddha and the Buddhist texts in a rationalist and often evidentialist manner, considering the historical and cultural contexts of the times in which the Buddha lived and the various suttas, sutras and tantras were written. Within the framework of secular Buddhism, Buddhist doctrine may be stripped of any unspecified combination of various traditional beliefs that could be considered superstitious, or that cannot be tested through empirical research, namely: supernatural beings, merit and its transference, rebirth, and karma, Buddhist cosmology, etc.”
We must be able to belong to a religion that can question itself and grow beyond it’s tenets.
We don’t entrap and curse people with punitive vows.
We don’t scare people with frightening talk of 17 torturous Hells.
We don’t remove, silence, shun and stonewall people who speak out against harm.
We don’t blame women for the misconduct and even violence of some Lamas.
We don’t threaten that people will go to hell or get sick if they ever leave a teacher or community.
We don’t mandate pure perception, when what is happening is harm.
We don’t wear the dharma as a robed ornament of spiritual pride.
We don’t support and defend teachers that are unwell and hurt students and society.
We don’t sexually or physically abuse children, ever.
I was even told yesterday that a few “yogi” friends proudly claim to try to use black magic to try to harm people, people that bring to light, these very actions.
How could we have taken something so simple, open, benevolent, well intended and used it for such darkness?
We can and must do better and listen to the Dalai Lama’s insistence on a full-on revolution, returning back to the raw basics of practice and decency.
A new dawning of real kindness, ethics, that empowers people, not teachers or institutions, is emerging. That day is being led by the warmth and power, of women.