Fallout: Recovering from Abuse in Tibetan Buddhism Kindle Edition
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'Tahlia Newland explores the dynamics behind the painful issue of physical, sexual and psychological abuse of students by their spiritual teachers. Her report lays bare the harm and anguish left behind in the wake of such appalling behaviour and the subsequent efforts, by those who seek to maintain their power and control, to denigrate the victims and condone the abusive conduct by invoking the excuse of Tantra. This attitude is a complete distortion of the impeccable Vajrayana path and creates much confusion, disenchantment and pain. So we are grateful to Ms Newland for bravely looking into this controversial issue with such compassion and insight.' Jetsumna Tenzin Palmo.
'This fine work reveals the excruciating pain, resistance and fear of those within the Rigpa organisation as they grapple with a huge shif tin perspective of the teacher they loved and admired--the insightful, brilliant and yet deeply flawed author of TheTibetan Book of Living and Dying--and shows how people can come together in the age of the internet to find truth and express love and caring for one another. The author captures this painful moment in Buddhism's history where cruelty--that most harmful of human flaws and the polar opposite of loving-kindness--has crept into and corrupted the Buddhadharma. She brings both compassion for survivors and deeply penetrating wisdom, dispelling the myth of crazy wisdom and enlightenment-by-abuse with a clear-headed vision.' Dr JackWicks.
'Written with passion and clarity,this shocking expose is a must-read for anyone who has ever been involved with Rigpa and a compelling account of what can go wrong in religious groups for everyone else. Though she pulls no punches, Newland writes with compassion for the victims and makes an attempt at understanding the flawed human beings behind the guru masks. Tibetan Buddhism as always seemed like the 'good guy' of religions; to discover corruption of the message at the heart of some groups is painful, even for one who has only ever been an outsider.' Barbara Scott Emmett, author of The Land Beyond Goodbye.
'This book provides a courageous and disturbing account of disillusionment and eventual break from a Tibetan Buddhist cult. Newland writes with authority and bravery, pulling no punches in her confrontation of the issues. She has put an enormous amount of research into this book, and it shows on every page. Testimonials from other ex-members of the cult abound. This book isn't just one woman's story, it's the tale of an entire community coming to grips with what they've endured, and in many cases, enabled. The book is clearly written for the Buddhist community, with terminology and references unique to the religion, but its lessons and insights can be relevant for people from all walks of life. Highly recommended for those trapped in abusive situations, as well as those who want to safeguard their minds against falling into similar traps.' Amy Spahn, author.
'Fallout has been to me an unexpected gift of clarity and compassion. As a survivor of spiritual abuse in Tibetan Buddhism myself, I want to deeply thank Tahlia Newland for making this work available to everyone. It's based on the Rigpa experience but it applies to all Tibetan Buddhism. To me it's more than a book, it's a manual for recovering from this kind of trauma. ... If you've been in a cult, or have been a victim of spiritual abuse and institutional betrayal, reading Fallout could literally be even better than going to a psychologist, because it will go straight to the point, it will take you step by step through a process of recognizing what you've been through, in order to deal with it. ... Even though I've built a new life for myself, this book allowed me to look back without the feeling of being alone, blamed or misunderstood. Finally all this makes sense and I can put a name on all the past experiences and situations! I can now freely say without any regret, "This indeed happened, and it was not my fault; I was right to speak up, and it's ok not to forgive".' Dr J Perez
'Fallout is a book one can delve into again and again to understand how abusive charismatic gurus come to be and how to avoid their web of abuse. It should be in every school, college and public library and on the curriculum of religious study courses to warn everyone about the dangers lurking on the spiritual path. I couldn't put the book down.' Marion McKenna
Everyone concerned about Tibetan Buddhism in the West or the wide issue of abuse in religion in general should read this book. In Fallout, Tahlia Newland, a long time former student of Sogyal Rinpoche, tells with great empathy, clarity and depth from her first hand experience what it means when you have to realise that your spiritual teacher is not who you thought he was. ... Regarding the ongoing historical process of transmitting Tibetan Buddhism to the West, Fallout is an important and outstanding contribution to its necessary scrutiny.' Bernd Zander
From the Author
After several bursts of intense work on the book, it took its final shape, and though some will find my commentary too kind on Sogyal, Rigpa and Tibetan Buddhism, and others will find it too harsh, it is quite simply just my story and my perspective as the main moderator of an online support group. I hope this book will help others find the closure that I gained through writing it.
- ASIN : B07SBJ8J4B
- Publisher : AIA Publishing (July 20, 2019)
- Publication date : July 20, 2019
- Language : English
- File size : 5048 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 321 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #758,104 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I really wanted to give this book more stars, but I have to be honest about it. This book is the story of the author, a former SR student, when she learns about the abusive people suffered under him. It follows her attempts to publicize this knowledge, collect survivor stories, form groups online, and the various ways these groups have confronted the history of abuse, and the response by Rigpa as an organization as well as a catalog of responses from various teachers and lamas to the open letter to Rigpa. The last section of the book deals with the psychology of cults and cult leaders, and advises one on how to avoid them in the future, as well as making some comments on the complex Buddhist teachings she studied. It is a very important book because it details a system of abuse in a Buddhist organization in the West, led by SR, which has yet to be held accountable for its actions, and this will hopefully warn future students to be wary of it and guru-cults. In that respect it is a document of historical record.
As a BOOK, that someone would buy to read and learn about abuse in Tibetan Buddhism, it’s a mess. The author has written it as one would write a series of blog posts rather than a professional book. She clearly needed an editor to tell her how what is essentially journalism should be properly conducted. Much of the material seems to be wholesale copy-pasted from Facebook messages, blog posts, and other materials on the internet with no listed date, authorship, or indication that she had the rights to any of this material. This doesn’t mean that her claims are spurious – it’s just not the proper way to present them.
A proper BOOK seeking to discuss this topic would probably introduce it drawing from the author’s own experiences (or the experiences of someone who actually suffered physical or sexual abuse, which the author did not), then give a general background on Tibetan Buddhism in the West, Rigpa, and probably a biography of Sogyal Rinpoche, all the while carefully explaining Buddhist terms. This would be the necessary context for the survivor’s stories, which would probably come next, and be in detail from interviews, instead of paragraphs of off-the-cuff writing that were PMed to her on Facebook at some point in the past. Then she would probably present her final topic, on recovering from abusive, after working with a psychologist or showing her own research on the topic, which should be extensive. If you’re going to talk at length about a serious issue in psychology, you should be a psychologist yourself or really know your stuff.
There are survivor stories, but only in brief. More extended tales are quoted from other books. The author’s own story isn’t as relevant because though the experience has been psychologically damaging, she (a) didn’t know Sogyal that well and (b) did not suffer any direct abuse from him, so she’s already a step removed from the information, and she doesn’t attempt to bridge that gap by letting the survivors speak at length. Instead, she reports on how she feels when she answers her emails. Ironically, this is some of the clearest and best material, because she can draw on her own experiences. It just isn’t that relevant to the overall story.
Speaking of the overall story, no attempt is made to place Rigpa or SR in any kind of context for someone new to the topic. Names, terms, and extremely technical concepts are dropped without explanation. Had I not already known almost all of the terms, and what the RIgpa organization was, and something of Tibetan Buddhist teachings, I would have been completely lost.
Part of me wants to recommend this book because survivor stories are always important and this is an ongoing scandal. The other part of me doesn’t think most people will make it through this book with much information they can do anything with based on the way the material is presented and organized. The unfortunate thing is that this book has very important things to say, but it doesn’t say them well.
sogyal rinpoche died today in thailand. as far as i know he did not come to terms with the harm experienced by his students. i hope that the healing continues apace and that this book finds wide readership. gassho
May all sentient beings be free from suffering and its causes.
May all sentient beings never be separated from sorrowless bliss.
May all sentient beings abide in equanimity, free of bias, attachment, and anger.
Top reviews from other countries
Tahlia's book is very honest, and even admits she was wrong to believe the bad press about Mimi, going so far as to publically apologize to her. I thought that was impressive. So many, who left under a dark cloud, were bad mouthed by the organization, and many left over the years. It was bad karma to say anything about the teacher so they said nothing, but those that spoke out, were vilified, and still are. Previous whistle blowers were named and shamed within the organization. The fact that 8 joined together and wrote the letter, created a watershed. They had to be heard, but of course, they were subjected to the same vilification as those that preceded them.
Tahlia's book documents a comprehensive look at disentangling yourself from a toxic organization, where the dysfunction keeps people trapped. The veneer of shallow compassion that Rigpa.org excels in is revealed. They are masters of spin, so much so, that many still choose to believe that Rigpa is the victim in all this.
I think Tahlia draws together the very many resources of psychological help that will help anyone interested in leaving such an organization, and enable you to gain insight into what attracted you to join in the first place. Thanks Tahlia, for an exceptional account and very readable book. I think many will benefit from reading it.
Tahlia, and everyone else who is/was ever involved with the Rigpa organisation, experienced first hand what it was like to have all one's ideals and expectations thoroughly shaken when it became known that the actions of the main Rigpa teacher, Sogyal Rinpoche, were often not at all in keeping with the most basic of Buddhist principles. And that at the centre of the whole organisation lay a very dysfunctional dynamic of denial and cover-up which had deliberately misled and exploited the good intentions of thousands and thousands of very genuine students, devoted to learning the Buddhist teachings.
After decades of the inner circle of closest students knowingly , and many others unwittingly, facilitating abuses of power, trust and teacher/student relationships, a damning legal investigation concluded that Sogyal Lakar should have no further contact with his students.
The book explores many different aspects of the whole situation and how it came to unfold in such a way that it could no longer continue to be hidden from every single Rigpa student, how it affects those who have had to face up to and come to terms with what happened, steps toward recovery from the trauma, and advice for recognising pitfalls and danger signs.
My respect and gratitude go to Tahlia and everyone in the What Now? group who dared to speak out, support each other and to begin to move on wiser and stronger as a result.