Matthieu Ricard’s Trial Balloon

Written by Rob Hogendoorn

1 minute

Matthieu Ricard suggests that to address or reddress abuse [my translation from the French]:

“The Union Bouddhiste de France or another body, should assume this responsibility and act as a safeguard against future abuses of power. Above all, it seems necessary, as it exists in Catholicism, to create a structure that would allow victims to be heard in safety, and to be supported by psychological and legal means.”

This very idea goes to show just how other-worldly—or disingenuous—Ricard really is.

Like many other national Buddhist unions, the Union Bouddhiste de France (UBF) too is dominated by Tibetan Buddhist members (38 out of 95), who, as Ricard himself confirms, are both unwilling and incapable to address the abuses in their midst.

Besides, the opinions of Western Buddhist converts and non-Tibetan Buddhists in the UBF are no concern of the Tibetan Lamas who lead these members and their umbrella organisations.

They are conditioned to believe that Tibetan Buddhism is complete as it is, lacking nothing whatsoever.

To them, because their branch of Tibetan Buddhism is perfect in and of itself, others’ views on abuse are simply immaterial.

Besides, national Buddhist unions and the European Buddhist Union are notoriously underfunded and understaffed. To think that the UBF could act as an ersatz-Catholic fact-finding committee borders on delusional.

A much better warrant against abuses by Tibetan Lamas is continuous publicity by mainstream media, so that the unspecting public at large can vote with its feet and wallets.

Matthieu Ricard understands fully well how effective this will be to curtail Tibetan Lamas’ near-total control over their worshippers, but I suspect he’d rather not plead for such curtailment: his own Tibetan entourage will not thank him for that.

So, this explains Ricard’s trial balloon: it is a diversionary tactic, rather than a viable, effective remedy, to preserve the status quo—of which he’s a prime beneficiary.

As the Dalai Lama’s epigone, Ricard’s first instinct is to always pass the buck to someone else.

Originally posted as a long-Tweet on September 20, 2022 (with slight edits).

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.