Scientific research into abuse in Tibetan Buddhist communities

Here is the recent paper by Dr. Anne Iris Miriam Anders from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich’s Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology:

Silencing and Oblivion of Psychological Trauma, Its Unconscious Aspects, and Their Impact on the Inflation of Vajrayāna. An Analysis of Cross-Group Dynamics and Recent Developments in Buddhist Groups Based on Qualitative Data.

Qualitative data was extracted from survey responses from victims and witnesses of abuse in Tibetan Buddhist communities, such as Rigpa, Shambhala, Ogyen Kunzang Choling and Pathgate.

Abstract of the paper:

The commercialization of Buddhist philosophy has led to decontextualization and indoctrinating issues across groups, as well as abuse and trauma in that context. Methodologically, from an interdisciplinary approach, based on the current situation in international Buddhist groups and citations of victims from the ongoing research, the psychological mechanisms of rationalizing and silencing trauma were analyzed. The results show how supposedly Buddhist terminology and concepts are used to rationalize and justify economic, psychological and physical abuse. This is discussed against the background of psychological mechanisms of silencing trauma and the impact of ignoring the unconscious in that particular context. Inadequate consideration regarding the teacher–student relationship, combined with an unreflective use of Tibetan honorary titles and distorted conceptualizations of methods, such as the constant merging prescribed in so-called ‘guru yoga’, resulted in giving up self-responsibility and enhanced dependency. These new concepts, commercialized as ‘karma purification’ and ‘pure view’, have served to rationalize and conceal abuse, as well as to isolate the victims. Therefore, we are facing societal challenges, in terms of providing health and economic care to the victims and implementing preventive measures. This use of language also impacts on scientific discourse and Vajrayāna itself, and will affect many future generations.

Dr. Anders’ paper contributes to initial scientific investigation into the mechanics underlying the abuse in Tibetan Buddhist communities and its impact on victims. It serves as an invaluable foundation for future research into this phenomenon.

The full paper can be read here.

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