In the Winter issue of Buddhadharma magazine, Lama Palden, Hozan Alan Senauke, Davide Whitehorn and Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat engage in a frank and open discussion about abuse of power in spiritual communities.
Abuse can take different forms: financial, psychological, physical, sexual. Are we willing to look at our Buddhist communities for these sorts of well-known habitual patterns and imbalances and then to dissolve them?
It is said that dharma and the bonds of dharma communities can only be destroyed from the inside. Abuse, then, is not just a personal “incident”; it is also a great threat to the continuity of wisdom traditions. Communities must find confidence to act, shifting toward greater respect and empowerment for women, minorities, youth, and others frequently targeted for abuse. In a community that listens and trusts these voices, would-be abusers cannot operate. How would this kind of community feel? What would happen differently if someone were abusive? How much more potential would be realized by its children?