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Buddhadharma : Summer 2018
54 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY afraid to confide in any one person. But there is a cost to silence. The cost is disconnection, isolation, and darkness in areas that need more exploration and discussion, not less. The release of personal accounts—at least within the inner circle—is critical in order for the community to understand the depth of the harm and to prevent future abuses. Navigating this dilemma requires respect for confiden- tiality, compassion, delicacy, and tact. Ideally, a safe container can be created for survivors to tell their story in an appropriate setting, either in person or through a statement that is read by someone they trust. what to do With the recent wave of revelations concerning sexual misconduct in the international Buddhist community, we may wonder, when will things ever change? My answer is never—unless education initia- tives and concrete protections are put in place, and unless the veil of silence surrounding discussing teacher-student sexual relationships is lifted. Until then, every Buddhist community remains a temple of cards. First, communities need to become educated about power dynam- ics, what constitutes healthy boundaries, and what happens when those boundaries are crossed. Boundary awareness trainings can actually be fun and empowering. Second, concrete preventative measures must be put in place. Those measures include a teacher’s code of ethics, a formal grievance procedure, and training in liability for the board of directors. Third, the loud, clear, and honest voices of women and men who have been in sexual relationships with their teachers must be heard. Without knowing the impact of misconduct on real human beings, we will never understand why we must take measures now While the teacher might have faults, the dharma is pure. Whatever teachings, transmissions, and authorizations you have received from the teacher are still sacred and valid.