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Fallout: Recovering from Abuse in Tibetan Buddhism Paperback – July 20, 2019

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


'Written with spiritual insight, emotional literacy, and common sense, this down-to-earth, wise, and healing book should be read by anyone who is thinking of joining, is part of,or thinking of leaving a religious group, whether it is Buddhist or not.' Geoffrey Beatson, psychotherapist.

'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 shift in perspective of the teacher they loved and admired--the insightful, brilliant and yet deeply flawed author of The Tibetan 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.   

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."' DrJ Perez

'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 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

In the wake of the revelations of  Sogyal Rinpoche's abuse of students, I wrote blog posts for the What Now? blog (now called Beyond the Temple) to help me and others process what these revelations meant for us. After a while, I realised that I had written a great deal of words on the topic and so, as an author, I wondered if there might be some value in turning my writings into a book. Since I'm not an expert in Tibetan Buddhism, cults or psychology, nor was I directly abused myself, initially I wasn't sure how to approach the subject matter, so the idea sat for quite some time as nothing more than a possibility. I also wanted to incorporate other voices, but didn't know what form that would take. 

Eventually it came to me that a memoir format would be the best framework for me to tell the story and examine the issues involved. Even so, I baulked at sharing such a personal experience and perspective until I realised that doing so could have a positive role to play in helping others like me find closure for this painful period of our lives. And so I put aside a month and wrote the first draft using the research I and other members of the What Now? group had done previously. In the end I used none of the blog posts, but I did manage to include other voices by (with permission) using comments they had left on social media. 

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. 

Product details

  • Item Weight : 1.4 pounds
  • Paperback : 436 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0648513041
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0648513049
  • Publisher : AIA Publishing (July 20, 2019)
  • Product Dimensions : 6 x 0.97 x 9 inches
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19 ratings