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Buddhadharma : Summer 2018
LAMA WILLA MILLER 51 powerful means of control. The secrecy can be used as leverage; if the woman (or man) reveals the relationship, retaliation of some kind will ensue. When it involves a spiritual community, that retali- ation can be devastating. A powerful teacher’s words can sway the minds of an entire community not only to practice dharma, but also to marginalize human beings. If a student decides to leave without speaking up—her other option—she is rarely rewarded for her discretion. Instead, the com- munity, especially if it is insular, may see her departure as a kind of betrayal. This may be reinforced by the teacher himself, who pri- vately experiences her departure as a loss of power and property. I realized fairly early on in the relationship with my teacher that this code of secrecy divided me from myself. But I only realized later that by keeping this secret, I was complicit in an act of darkness that risked undermining the very community I loved. Even after the pas- sage of time and with the help of therapy, I still harbor regrets about this. It is one of the many reasons survivors fail to speak up: we feel ashamed. the myth of one-way samaya In the tradition of Vajrayana, there is something called samaya. While the word literally means “commitment,” it refers to sacred or clean relationship. If you have samaya with someone, it means that you have a commitment to uphold and view them in their fundamen- tal goodness and dignity. Some textual sources state that a dharma student’s most important samaya is the commitment to their primary teacher. Taken out of the larger context of Buddhist ethics, this dimension of samaya would seem to imply that students should not question their teacher’s actions, no matter how unskillful. A one-way samaya sanctions students to become apologists for their teacher’s transgressions. opposite | Both Worlds, 2009