Élodie Emery & Wandrille Lanos Present ‘Buddhism: The Unspeakable Truth’

Written by Rob Hogendoorn

1 minute

In a brief video in English, the French filmmakers Élodie Emery and Wandrille Lanos present their documentary ‘Abuse in Buddhism: The Law of Silence‘ [previous working title: ‘Buddhism: The Unspeakable Truth’].

The European network Arte broadcast the documentary on September 13, 2022 on television in Germany and France. It can be watched online at Arte.tv, free of charge. A subtitled English version of the documentary is available here.

Emery and Lanos filmed in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, India, and Nepal, where they interviewed Western, Tibetan, and Nepalese sources.

In Belgium, they documented the criminal proceedings against the abusive Lama Robert Spatz (also known as Lama Kunzang) in Belgium. Spatz was convicted to a suspended prison sentence for the assault and abuse of children, which he appealed from Spain. The verdict on his appeal is expected on October 5, 2022.

At present, Spatz is the subject of a criminal investigation in France.

In Rotterdam, the filmmakers took Oane Bijlsma and Ricardo Mendes, two of the participants in a historic, widely published meeting, back to the hotel room where they met the Dalai Lama in 2018.

The documentary demonstrates that the outcome of the Rotterdam meeting closely resembles that of the Dalai Lama’s conference with Western Buddhist teachers in 1993: when the chips are down, in spite of his verbal assurances, the Dalai Lama cleverly shirks responsibility for his endorsement of Tibetan Buddhist teachers he knows to be abusive.

On September 14, 2022, Emery and Lanos published their eponymous book, which provides much background and testimonies by victims and survivors of abuse and a behind-the-scenes look at the development of their documentary.

Robert Spatz and his organisation Ogyen Kunzang Chöling were endorsed by the Dalai Lama and the French monk Matthieu Ricard. In their book, Emery and Lanos describe their contentious interaction with Ricard and their vain attempt to interview the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India.

Ricard retracted a two-hours interview with Lanos under a threat to sue. The Dalai Lama’s Office in India refused to grant an interview.

A brief description on the book’s back cover runs [my translation from the French]:

“Blinded by its enthusiasm, the West would have almost forgotten it: Buddhism is a religion, with its dogmas, its promises of salvation and its threats of hell. Hoping to reach enlightenment, the equivalent of grace in Christianity, the disciples of Tibetan Buddhism owe obedience and devotion to a master.

Also when he humiliates, hits, or rapes you.

During an eleven-year investigation, Élodie Emery and Wandrille Lanos collected the testimonies of thirty-two victims. They reveal a system that shielded, for 50 years, Buddhist masters endorsed by the Dalai Lama. Some are the subject of legal proceedings. Most are still active.”

About the author

Rob Hogendoorn

Investigative reporter and academic researcher Rob Hogendoorn (b. 1964) began researching the reception of Buddhism in Western society and culture in the early 1990s. His modus operandi remained the same ever since: independent, inquisitive and provocative.