You Never Know

Written by Rob Hogendoorn

Less than a minute

The first abuse case I published was that of a South-Tyrolean skipper who turned himself into a Lama overnight, courtesy of Kelsang Gyatso, the Tibetan leader of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT).

This faux Lama began to sexually abuse and terrorise his devotees right away.

The NKT never bothered to warn the locals and Buddhist media never bothered to investigate, even though they were informed more than once. This case demonstrates how easy it is to launch yourself as a Lama while fellow Buddhists do not put the slightest obstacle in your way.

Let this sink in for a while: the Dutch Buddhist Broadcasting Foundation and a Buddhist magazine were warned by desperate community members multiple times, but refused to investigate. Meanwhile, one member became pregnant, another committed suicide.

An editor of the magazine, a ‘Zen teacher,’ refused to speak to the latter woman, who came to see him after he taught in the city where the faux Lama had a centre. Instead of listening, he gave her the brush off—harshly.

Rather then write about the case, he preferred to publish a bland ‘Zen column’ about the very pier where her lifeless body washed up later. He couldn’t have known this. But that’s the point: take those who bring up abuse seriously, because you just don’t know how they are doing—not even when you’re a ‘Zen teacher.’

Originally posted as a long-Tweet on September 19, 2022 (with some 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.