Why Not Sweep The Stairs From The Top Down?

Written by Rob Hogendoorn

1 minute

The stated position of the German Buddhist Union (DBU) on the documentary ‘Abuse in Buddhism: The Law of Silence‘ (Arte, 2022) rests on a few hidden assumptions:

1. Because the Dalai Lama and Matthieu Ricard spoke in public about abuses after they had been exposed, they did not partake in a culture of silence before these abuses were exposed.

2. Because the Dalai Lama and Ricard are not omnipotent, they shouldn’t be held accountable for their own enabling conduct.

3. Holding the Dalai Lama and Ricard accountable for their enabling conduct detracts from holding other enablers accountable.

4. The documentary-makers chose the wrong subject.

Each of these assumptions is plain silly.

Think about it: neither the teachers, victims and survivors in the documentary, nor the victims and survivors who petitioned him before their meeting in Rotterdam in 2018, asked the Dalai Lama for anything else than to change his own conduct and to do things that are well within his own power.

It’s abundantly clear that he failed to deliver on promises made.

Worse, the Dalai Lama and Ricard could even have accomplished much by doing nothing at all: by not endorsing, visiting, and elevating teachers they knew to be abusive.

And yet, rather than hold them accountable as spiritual leaders and moral authorities for their (in)action, DBU would like to change the subject altogether.

So, my questions to the DBU are: If the Dalai Lama and Matthieu Ricard shouldn’t be held responsible for their enabling conduct, what are they in fact responsible for? And: why not sweep the stairs from the top down?

Originally posted as a long-Tweet on September 22, 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.