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Buddhadharma : Fall 2017
fall 2017 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 81 Confronting Abuse of Power by Pamela Rubin Abuse can take different forms: financial, psychological, physical, sexual. Recent headlines have revealed that spiritual communities, including Buddhist ones, are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse by male authority figures. At the same time, all over North America, targets of sexual abuse and institutional betrayal are speaking out with newfound energy, their words and experiences echoing over instant media to resonate with millions of others. More and more people are calling out habitual oppressions, exorcising self-blame, and inspiring others to wake up, saying, “No more! I am worthy of decency and respect.” We are casting off centuries of myths that normalized abuses or at best treated them as an insurmountable problem. Communities are genuinely asking, what can we do differently? A new way forward will require daring. If we really think about our future, sanghas must be not only collections of individual meditators but also healthy communities that promote inclusion and provide a good ground for the dharma to flourish. We cannot afford to ignore the value of all our relations. 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? Winter 2014 Pure Dharma, Barefoot Dharma by B. Alan Wallace The assimilation and adaptation of Buddhism is taking place today on an international scale. Given how rapidly this is occurring, there is real danger that the integrity of the Buddha’s teachings may be lost when the teachings are diluted to the level of pop psychology and when teachings from diverse Buddhist and non-Buddhist traditions are haphazardly mixed together. On the other hand, if teachers of buddhadharma refuse to adapt to the modern world, there is the danger that Buddhism will soon appear antiquated and irrelevant. This is certainly the perception of many non-Buddhists, as well as some younger-generation Asian Buddhists. The purity of dharma, then, depends on maintaining both its integrity and its effectiveness in the modern world, leading people from suffering and its causes to an experience of greater virtue, genuine happiness, and understanding. ➤